1981 Season Summary
|1||June 7||Champion Spark Plug Regatta||Miami, Florida|
|2||June 28||Stroh's Silver Cup||Detroit, Michigan|
|3||July 5||Indiana Governor's Cup||Madison, Indiana|
|4||July 12||Thunder-On-The-Ohio Regatta||Evansville, Indiana|
|5||July 26||Columbia Cup||Pasco, Washington|
|6||August 9||Sea Galley A.P.B.A. Gold Cup||Seattle, Washington|
|7||September 20||Circus Circus Thunderboat Regatta||San Diego, California|
|8||October 18||U.I.M. World Championship||Acapulco, Mexico|
|07-Jun||Miss Budweiser (12)||Dave Culley||Ron Jones||Ron Jones||Rolls Griffon|
|28-Jun||Miss Budweiser (12)||Dave Culley||Ron Jones||Ron Jones||Rolls Griffon|
|05-Jul||Miss Budweiser (12)||Dave Culley||Ron Jones||Ron Jones||Rolls Griffon|
|12-Jul||Atlas Van Lines (9)||Dave Seefeldt||Jim Lucero||Norm Berg||Rolls Merlin|
|26-Jul||Squire Shop (2)||Jerry Zuvich||Dave Knowlen||Norm Berg||Rolls Merlin|
|09-Aug||Miss Budweiser (12)||Dave Culley||Ron Jones||Ron Jones||Rolls Griffon|
|20-Sep||Miss Budweiser (12)||Dave Culley||Ron Jones||Ron Jones||Rolls Griffon|
|18-Oct||Miss Budweiser (12)||Dave Culley||Ron Jones||Ron Jones||Rolls Griffon|
|Built||Boat High Points||Total||Team Points|
|1||(1980)||Miss Budweiser (12)||8700||(1)|
|2||(1973)||Miss Madison (4)||5746||(2)|
|3||(1977)||Atlas Van Lines (9)||5223||(3)|
|4||(1973)||Oh Boy Oberto (3)||4890||(4)|
|5||(1979)||Squire Shop (2)||3125||(5-3425)|
|6||(1980)||Pay 'n Pak (5)||3000||(6)|
|9||(1971)||Miss Rent It Shops||1367||(9)|
|11||(1966)||Miss Kentuckiana Paving||1013||(11)|
|14||(1979)||Squire Shop (3)||300|
|16||(1980)||Miss Circus Circus (3)||225||(15)|
|17||(1970)||Miss Rock KISW-FM (2)||169||(16)|
|18||(1967)||Campbell's Food Service||150||(17)|
|20||(1976)||Miss O'Neil & Knudsen||DNQ|
|Driver High Points||Total|
|19||Steve La Cava||113|
Based on competition lap speeds Miss Budweiser and Atlas Van Lines were nearly equal contenders. However Budweiser could achieve its speed down on the water with relatively fewer r.p.m.s than the Atlas. When Atlas Van Lines ran ahead of Budweiser she was on the ragged edge.
Squire Shop was about five m.p.h. behind the leaders and got some new sponsons from Ron Jones. Miss Circus Circus elected to go with a new rear sponson canard hull. The turbine Pay 'n Pak was back for another try, but as amply demonstrated last year was not a stable hull.
Due to a lack of bidding for the 1980 Gold Cup, the race was awarded for the next three years. Seattle would get the regatta in 1981, Detroit in 1982 and then Evansville in 1983. This was to encourage long range planning which would hopefully improve this most prestigious of A.P.B.A. trophies.
In spite of what the tea leaves indicated over the winter Miss Budweiser easily defeated Atlas Van Lines twice in the preliminary heats as well as the final to take the opening event at Miami. Miss Budweiser had 10 m.p.h. over Atlas Van Lines who wasn't any faster than last year at Miami when she was relatively unprepared. The new Pay 'n Pak was 14 m.p.h. short of Budweiser.
Miss Budweiser ran her consecutive heat streak to six in annexing the Silver Cup at Detroit. Atlas Van Lines was 9 m.p.h. behind Budweiser in the Silver Cup while she was only 5 m.p.h. off the pace at this point of the season last year.
Budweiser added three more heats wins to its increasing total in capturing the Indiana Governor's Cup at Madison. Atlas Van Lines was 11 m.p.h. behind the eight ball while the Pay 'n Pak was 12 m.p.h. down.
Atlas Van Lines finally broke through to win a race at Evansville. She was still significantly off the pace being defeated twice by Miss Budweiser in the preliminary heats. But when the Anheuser-Busch entry went dead in the water in the championship heat, driver Bill Muncey didn't hand the victory back to the fates and captured the trophy in Atlas Van Lines' home town.
At the Columbia Cup Squire Shop snuck up on the Miss Budweiser in the final heat after the leading Atlas Van Lines had gone dead in the water and won the Cup by one second. Budweiser was handicapped by a missing windshield holding driver Dean Chenoweth down to 150 m.p.h. on the straightaways. Atlas Van Lines had been defeated by Budweiser in an elimination heat, but made one of its sweeping approaches to the start off the turn diving to lane 2 inside the Anheuser-Busch entry to account for its 4½ circuits in front of the pack.
As a consequence of the heroics at the Tri-Cities the Gold Cup at Seattle shaped up as a good contest between Miss Budweiser and Atlas Van Lines. The Atlas could do 133 m.p.h. around a 2½ mile course while Budweiser could do 128 m.p.h. around a 2 mile course.
The laps were about equivalent, however again the Bernie Little entry had the more stable ride and could do its thing at lower r.p.m.'s
The Gold Cup was run under the Fan Plan as in 1974. Miss Budweiser, Atlas Van Lines, Squire Shop, and Pay 'n Pak qualified for the fast flight. Atlas Van Lines was drowned out before the start of heat one, placed a sick fifth and withdrew for the day with a damaged sponson. Miss Budweiser took the two preliminary heats. Squire Shop had trouble placing second twice and Pay 'n Pak was even further back.
Miss Budweiser figured to win the final heat for the Gold Cup and she did, but Pay 'n Pak was only five seconds behind at the finish with Squire about the same distance behind her. Seattle was a slower course than the Tri-Cities so perhaps the competition lap ratings of Miss Budweiser 127.7, Pay 'n Pak 126.3 and Squire 126.3 were of some relative significance.
Pay 'n Pak did not go to San Diego since turbines and salt water didn't mix and Squire Shop lost their boat in a test run as a result of a classic blowover. Thus the Circus Circus Thunderboat Regatta boiled down to Atlas Van Lines versus Miss Budweiser.
Atlas Van Lines like Miss Budweiser entered the final heat with 800 points. Atlas Van Lines and Miss Budweiser battled for nearly two laps and then the Atlas lost her prop. Budweiser thereafter went on to win another regattta. However unlike his negative assessments following prior races. Atlas driver Bill Muncey said that his boat would be awfully hard to beat at Acapulco.
After flirting with the Unlimiteds for a number of years, Acapulco, Mexico finally got on the circuit. They were to stage a Fan Plan for a purse of $175,000. This was the largest purse by $50,000 in the entire history of Unlimited Racing. Miss Budweiser, Atlas Van Lines, Pay 'n Pak and Squire Shop qualified for the fast section. Squire Shop was a replacement being the first Squire's sister ship-the Circus Circus,which was lighter due to her hexcel construction.
Miss Budweiser took both heats leading up to the championship final. Atlas Van Lines was second in the first heat while Squire Shop held this position in the next heat. Pay 'n Pak could not get out of third place. Miss Budweiser had 4 m.p.h. on the field heading into the determining confrontation.
Atlas Van Lines again swept wide on the turn approaching the start of the crucial heat before making her dive to lane one. This allowed Atlas to have the lead off the initial turn. She had several boat lengths on Pay 'n Pak and then Budweiser as she headed up the backstretch. As the Atlas Van Lines approached the second corner she suddenly came off the water, flew skyward and flipped over backward landing upside down in the water. Tragically the boat did not spit out Bill Muncey before it landed killing him almost instantly. The heat was stopped and Miss Budweiser was given the race based on the preliminary heats.
Bill Muncey was gone and the sport would never be quite the same without him because he was the brightest star in the pits. In 1969 he exceeded Gar Wood in total victories and in 1972 he went by Bill Cantrell's total for both the 725 and Gold Cup class to become the undisputed all time driver. No one could match him as a spokesman for Unlimited Racing. His wife Fran Muncey was to carry on the Atlas tradition with a new driver, Chip Hanauer.
[Statistics from Greene, V.2]