1984 Indiana Governor's Cup
Atlas Van Lines Makes Hanauer the Man of the Hour
By Gary Schultz, Courier-Journal Staff Writer
Madison, Ind. — Chip Hanauer, who Just turned 30 last Sunday, says his unlimited hydroplane racing career is now complete.
He rounded it off yesterday with an overwhelming victory in the $100,000 Indiana Governor’s Cup race as a crowd estimated at 95,000 looked on from the banks of the Ohio River.
"I’ve been racing here eight years,” Hanauer said afterward, "and I’ve bad everything happen from my boat blowing up to my boat sinking.”
The sport’s winningest active driver had suffered a lot of setbacks in Madison but had not scored a victory until yesterday.
“A career wouldn’t be complete without a win in Madison,” he said. "This is such a historic race. Mira Slovak, Bill Muncey ... all of the great ones have won here.”
And now Hanauer — and the turbine-powered Atlas Van Lines.
Unlimited racing commissioner Don Jones saw special significance in the victory, calling it "a new era in the history of unlimited hydroplane racing.”
It may have been.
A turbine-powered hydro had won once before — the Pay ’n Pak at Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1982 — but that boat never dominated a race like the Atlas Van Lines did yesterday. Indeed, perhaps no unlimited has been so overpowering in one afternoon.
- Hanauer, who came to town winless, left with every record in the book:
- He set a qualifying record (135.034 miles per hour) on Thursday;
- He set a single-lap record (128.479) in a preliminary yesterday, then bettered it (129.328) in the final heat;
- He set a record for a five-lap heat (121.659) in the prelims and came back to smash that (122.822) en route to the championship.
- And he set a record average for a three-heat, 37½-mile race (121.371), erasing the old mark by nearly eight miles an hour.
Even more convincing evidence of his domination were his winning margins — 53.7 and 18.6 seconds in
Heats 1B and 2B, and then 34.35 seconds in the final.
"If he keeps running like that,” said Miss Budweiser driver Jim Kropfeld, who had set all of the previous records last year, "I don’t see anybody beating him.”
Said Miss Budweiser owner Bernie Little: "What Chip did today made the word awesome absolute in our sport.”
Hanauer ended the suspense quickly in the final heat. Virtually even with Kropfeld coming out of the second turn of the opening lap,
he accelerated in the Atlas Van Lines and was long gone.
"I wanted to try to run with him, and we gave it our best shot,” Kropfeld said. "I had the inside lane, and we were doing about 185 on our way to the first turn, but he just went by me.
"He’s about 2,500 pounds lighter than we are, and getting our 7,000 pounds around the comer is kind of hard. For him, though, it’s like pulling a string.”
By the time the Atlas passed the start-finish buoy completing the first lap, Hanauer had a lead of 7.2 seconds — about 700 yards.
His speed for the lap was the record 129.328 mph. When he duplicated that on the second lap, his margin grew to an insurmountable 21.8 seconds.
It then became a matter of whether Miss Budweiser could hold off Miss Tosti Asti II and keep the turbines from a 1-2 finish.
Miss Bud did, helped by a mental error by Tosti Asti driver Steve Reynolds and an average of 112.294 mph to the third-place boat’s 109.876. The margin was 8.82 seconds.
"I thought lap four was lap five (the last lap),” Reynolds said, “and I made a run up on the Bud. The engine overtemped by a good 50 degrees, so I had to back off the throttle. I don’t know if I could have beaten him anyway.”
Although some seemed ready to concede the rest of the season to the Atlas Van Lines, Hanauer wasn’t bubbling with confidence after the victory.
"I don’t think we proved anything other than that we were a good boat today,” he said. "Tomorrow things may go all to hell.”
After missing the first two races, the Atlas failed miserably last Sunday at Evansville, winning only a consolation heat.
That moved Hanauer to say that "dumb luck” was the boat’s only hope at Madison and that the Atlas probably wouldn’t be competitive until later in the month when the circuit moved to the West Coast.
It didn’t work out that way as Hanauer posted his 12th career victory, giving him one more than Squire Shop driver Mickey Remund.
“I didn’t know what to expect because these were our first heats of competition (with the top boats),” Hanauer said after winning an $18,000 share of the Madison Regatta’s highest-ever purse.
“I had to go ‘try them on’ as we say ... and they fit pretty good.’’
With a perfect 1,200-point day, the Atlas moved into eighth place in its bid for a third straight national title with a total of 1,400 points.
Miss Budweiser scored 1,100 points with two easy preliminary victories — by 34.51 seconds and 13.44 seconds — and the second-place finish and moved into the national lead with 3,400.
"We went from third to first place today in national points,” Kropfeld said, "so even if the Atlas beats us every time the rest of the way, it’s still going to be hard for them to take No. 1.”
The Squire Shop and American Speedy Printing, which entered the race ranked 1-2 in points, ran into problems.
An electrical failure caused The Squire Shop’s engine to blow in Heat 1B, and the boat failed to finish. That left it needing a victory in Heat 2B to make the final, but the best Remund could do was finish second to the Atlas.
“You can’t hope for much more than that,” Remund said, “when a boat logs the fastest time ever run here on the first lap (128.479 to The Squire Shop’s 121.934).”
American Speedy Printing, formerly known as Miss Madison, also missed the final. Driver Ron Snyder was shut out in Heat 1A because of a plugged-up fuel line and then had to settle for third place in Heat 2B.
The Squire Shop has 3,169 points going into Sunday’s race at Detroit, the fifth stop on the 10-race circuit, while third-place American Speedy has 2,575.
(Reprinted from the Louisville Courier-Journal, July 9, 1984)