1982 Champion Spark Plug Regatta
Nothing New in Miami
By Bob Greenhow
For the third year in a row Miss Budweiser and Dean Chenoweth took top honors at the season opener in Miami, Florida. The victory, on June 6, was Chenoweth's fourth at the Champion Sparkplug Regatta.
Seven boats came to the pits to open the '82 campaign. Testing did not commence until Friday afternoon, due partially to the short-lived [hurricane] Alberto. Bud was first out and promptly romped around the course at 122 plus—just fast enough to show the others that this team means business. But several hours later out came John Walters in Pay ‘n Pak. Surprise! Pak’s best was 124.48.
On Saturday morning Chenoweth was back out. He turned a quick one—126.050, then cut the course and returned to the pits. By mid-day Walters had matched the mark. Both Pak and Bud tested during the afternoon, but neither made any more record attempts.
Meanwhile the rest of the field was also busy. George Johnson did a great deal of running in Executone, finally qualifying at better than 105 mph. The very same speed achieved by Tom Sheehy in Miss Madison which is sponsored by Rich Plan Food Service.
Atlas Van Lines was probably the most observed boat at Miami. The boat arrived in town still untested. She ran briefly on Friday, then Chip Hanauer qualified her on Saturday in the 112 range. On race day morning man and machine pounded out laps of 123 plus and 125 even. At those speeds the boat appeared light with a veering front end.
Captran Resorts, despite persistent engine problems slipped around the course at a bit over 92 mph. Fred Giese, son of the crew chief, was making his debut at the wheel.
Bob Miller was not able to test the Miss Rock until Sunday. Twice on Saturday the black boat refused to start.
Several laps were turned the next morning, the best at 92 plus, and Miller was in the race. But his problems were not over. After spinning in the lower turn, Miller hit a sandbar while returning to the pits. The boat was refloated, undamaged. Bob must have suffered some embarrassment.
With all seven boats qualified, the top five were slated to run in the first two heats. Then the consolation heat (scored at half-point value) would feature Captran Resorts and Miss Rock along with the two lowest point-earners out of the top five. The top two from the consolation would join the top three in the final.
Early during race week Miami was in the midst of a wet spell. However, starting with Friday some improvement was noted each day. But the ever-present cumulus clouds were just that when action was taking place. Heat one found Miss Budweiser returning to the pits at about two minutes before clock zero with a broken rod. Miss Madison and Executone could not be started. Pay ‘n Pak defeated Atlas Van Lines by a half a lap and averaged 117.995 in the process-a new record by nine and one-half miles. Sheehy was assessed a $100 fine for trying to start his boat during the heat.
Heat two was another duet. This time the participants were Budweiser and Executone. They started and finished in the above order. The others could not start at all: Atlas due to prime system woes and Pay ‘n Pak because of hull damage. Madison was unable to fire up. The winner's average was 105.448.
So Miss Madison and Executone filled out the field for the consolation heat. After leading at the start, Captran Resorts slowed down and was passed by Executone. George Johnson cruised to an easy win at a slow 75.308. Miss Rock, after starting third, eventually took over second after Captran died on the fourth backstretch. Earlier Miller had hooked on the upper turn. Miss Madison again failed to start.
Hopes were high for a Pak-Bud showdown in the finale. Not so. Pak developed engine trouble and stopped after going through the Atlas roostertail. She later re-started and and made it across the starting line, but went dead again shortly afterwards. Meanwhile Bud and Atlas made a fast legal start with the U-1 owning the inside and the lead. Chenoweth stayed in front to the finish, averaging 109.656. Hanauer, Johnson and Miller followed in that order.
The victory was number 12 in 15 race day efforts for the Miss Budweiser. But there remained the challenge of the Pay ‘n Pak and eventually the Atlas Van Lines.
You know... it just could be an interesting year.
(Reprinted with permission from the Unlimited NewsJournal, June 1982)