1986 Season Summary
|1.||June 15||Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Championship||Miami, Florida|
|2.||June 29||Budweiser APBA Gold Cup||Detroit, Michigan|
|3.||July 6||Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup||Madison, Indiana|
|4.||July 13||Budweiser Thunder On The Ohio||Evansville, Indiana|
|5.||July 27||Budweiser Columbia Cup||Pasco, Washington|
|6.||August 3||Budweiser Emerald Cup||Seattle, Washington|
|7.||August 17||Miller American Thunderboat Classic||Syracuse, New York|
|8.||August 24||Budweiser Hydrocade||Philadelphia, Penn.|
|9.||September 21||Miller American Thunderboat Regatta||San Diego, California|
|10.||September 28-29||Budweiser Las Vegas Silver Cup||Las Vegas Nevada|
|6/9||Miss Budweiser (16)||Ron Brown||Jones-Brown||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|6/29||Miller American||John Walters||Jim Lucero||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|7/6||Miller American||John Walters||Jim Lucero||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|7/13||Miss Budweiser (16)||Ron Brown||Jones-Brown||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|7/27||Miller American||John Walters||Jim Lucero||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|8/3||Miller American||John Walters||Jim Lucero||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|8/17||Miller American||John Walters||Jim Lucero||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|9/21||Miss Bahia||Dwight Moody||Hickling-Patterson||Bob Patterson||Allison|
|9/28||Miss Budweiser (16)||Ron Brown||Jones-Brown||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|Built||Boat High Points||Total|
|1.||(1984)||Miss Budweiser (16)||8500|
|4.||(1973)||Holset Miss Madison||5742|
|6.||(1982)||Squire Shop (4)||3269|
|7.||(1985)||Miss Budweiser (15)||2975|
|10.||(1980)||Kenney Toyota (3)||1244|
|12.||(1976)||Oh Boy! Oberto (5)||915|
|14.||(1979)||Miss Nevada Palace||521|
|16.||(1982)||Miss KAMT/AA Auto Parts||225|
|Driver High Points||Total|
The Unlimited Class was associated with the Harmsworth Trophy before World War II. But even then you could not build a boat over 40 feet in length although the engines were without limitation. After the War the first rules for the Unlimiteds were formulated. The designation Unlimited was a misnomer to the extent that jet or rocket engines were prohibited and no devices could be employed that would make use of external aerodynamic forces
The aerodynamic force limitation was breached with the rear wing Pay 'n Pak in 1973. The next year the jet and rocket engine restriction was transcended by the debut of the U-95. In due course after 1949 the 40 foot length prohibition was reenacted, but nobody wanted to build a boat 41 feet long.
In 1986 the engines were being limited to 2650 horsepower in a turbine. Also a rule requiring a minimum weight of 4500 lbs. for turbines was put into place. As a result the Unlimited Class no longer existed as unlike previous years you could not wink at these limitations. Perhaps the former Unlimiteds would be known as Gold Cuppers as Gold Cup boats were called between 1922 and 1941
There was a major shake up on the Miller American team as crew chief - co-owner Jim Lucero left the organization. A new hull was planned for the 1986 season specifically designed for the now staple 2650 horsepower L-7 Lycoming turbine engine. The boat was not finished on time. Then Lucero and 51% owner Fran Muncey split up.
Lucero would however finish the hull that he designed. Lance Morris became team manager and John Walters the crew chief. Chip Hanauer would remain as driver.
Budweiser was also to have a new boat in the form of a Ron Jones design with input from the Budweiser crew. However this hull too was not finished in time and Bernie Little would go with the former Lite All Star which was involved in a Anheuser-Busch testing program in 1985. Jeff Neff left the team with Ron Brown taking over as crew chief. Budweiser would have an enclosed cockpit on its turbine just as its new 1985 Rolls Griffon hull had had.
Miss 7-Eleven likewise would have an enclosed cockpit. The Steve Woomer entry also would have new Ron Jones sponsons for 1986. Thus Miller American would be the only turbine without an enclosed cockpit.
In the five years that turbines had run before 1986, 12 different entries had tried to run on salt water to no avail. But at Miami the "new" Miss Budweiser turned the trick. Nevertheless her best competition lap was 13 m.p.h. under the record. Both Miller and 7-Eleven had engine trouble. Miami was an excellent opportunity for the Griffon Miss Budweiser - the team's new boat for 1985 - however she couldn't even beat Holset Miss Madison.
The Gold Cup at Detroit was the following race and Miller American was the favorite for her third Gold Cup having won five of nine regattas in 1985. Any Bernie Little entry that was in the ball park had to be considered and in spite of her unimpressive performance at Miami the ex Lite All Star Miss Budweiser was probably in the aforesaid ball park. Miss 7-Eleven had won two races as a turbine, so she also rated some consideration.
Miller American beat an erratic Miss Budweiser in heat 2-A. Nevertheless in winning heat 3-B, Budweiser turned a lap at 127.9 m.p.h. - 4 m.p.h. better than Miller American's best at that point.
In the championship heat for the Gold Cup Miller American got the inside, turned a lap of 126.6 and beat Miss Budweiser over the finish line by 7 seconds although the Anheuser-Busch entry gave her a good battle until the last lap. Miss 7-Eleven beat Miss Budweiser in heat 1-B, then had engine trouble in the next two heats.
In the final she was 6 to 7 m.p.h. off the pace in placing fourth.
A new Hughes Plan was unveiled at Madison. Instead of two preliminary heats there would now be three. These preliminaries would be three laps long instead of five. The winner-take-all final heat would remain at five laps.
Miller American took Miss Budweiser twice in the elimination heats and then beat her again in the championship heat to win the Indiana Governor's Cup. Miss Budweiser was 2 seconds back in heat 3-B, but 6 seconds behind in the final heat. Both Miller and Budweiser were off the line at the start of the determinative heat. Miss 7-Eleven had another below par regatta running sick a good share of the time - at least 14 m.p.h. behind the leader.
At Evansville Miss Budweiser cheered owner Bernie Little by defeating Miller American in heat 1-A. These entries both won their second heats to set up a showdown in the final.
However at the start of the championship heat there was Squire Shop driven by Tom D'Eath leading the way. Squire Shop was ahead at the end of lap 1, then the second and third laps. But in lap 4 Miss Budweiser pulled in front taking the heat by 9 seconds. Squire, who lost her nitrous oxide in lap 4, was second. Miller American suffered hull damage and finished fourth. Miss 7-Eleven was third and ran about 8 m.p.h. off the pace at best during the regatta.
Out west in the Tri-Cities Miller American and Miss Budweiser won each of their preliminary heats. Unfortunately in the final heat Miss Budweiser could not start and Miller American had an easy win. Although Miss Budweiser was still flighty, she had the fastest competition lap by 3 m.p.h.
Both Miller American and Miss Budweiser again won their elimination heats at Seattle's Seafair. However once more the determinative heat was an anti-climax as Miss Budweiser was watered down before the start and Miller American thereby annexed another trophy for owner Fran Muncey.
The hydros returned to Syracuse for the third time in 1986. Miss Budweiser beat Miller American in heat 1-A and would have won heat 2-A if she had not been disqualified for being off plane at the one minute gun. In the final she expired on lap 3. while giving Miller American a hard battle. Former Miller co-owner Jim Lucero joined the 7-Eleven team at Syracuse, but the Steve Woomer entry was still 13 m.p.h. short.
Miss Budweiser had held the lead in the High Points for the first six events on the tour, however heading into the salt waters of San Diego she was 569 points behind Miller American. Sometimes the best plans of mice and men run amiss and incredibly Miller American failed to qualify in the salt water having made the grade once in 1986, twice in 1985 and once in 1984. The problem was attributed to bad fuel damaging an engine.
Salt water conquered the other turbines too as Miss Budweiser and Miss 7-Eleven failed to start the last heat. This made the Miller Regatta a battle of the also rans. Miss Bahia was rated at 121.9 going into the championship heat. Holset Miss Madison had 120.4 and Kenney Toyota 120.0.
Kenney Toyota never left the dock for the final heat. Holset Miss Madison got caught in some roostertails before the start and followed Miss Bahia by 3 seconds after the first lap. Then her engine quit allowing Miss Bahia to win the Miller American Thunderboat Regatta.
Bob Patterson's Miss Bahia was 19 years old having begun life in 1967 as Parco's O-Ring Miss. Patterson bought the hull in 1970 and ran it a number of years with a rear cockpit. In 1978 the boat was changed over to a cabover.
By 1983 the U-80 could do 120 m.p.h. competition laps around a 2½ mile course. This was a record for a Ted Jones style hull.
Miss U.S., a Les Staudacher designed Ted Jones style, could only do 111 m.p.h. in comparison. Ed Karelsen's Miss Bardahl, a refinement of the Ted Jones hull, did 112 m.p.h. in 1968. Possibly Thriftway, Too should have been designed for a single engine.
Miss 7-Eleven heartened her owner Steve Woomer by defeating Miss Budweiser in heat 1-A at San Diego. The 7-Eleven could live at 135 m.p.h. laps. Miss Budweiser died doing 138 m.p.h. in heat 2-A. Nevertheless the Budweiser managed to cut the High Point margin between herself and Miller American to 269 points heading into the final event of the season at Las Vegas.
Fortunately for the Miss Budweiser, Miller American still wasn't right for this crucial race. Miss 7-Eleven defeated Miller in heat 1-A and Miss Budweiser turned the trick in heat 2-B having 5 m.p.h. on the Fran Muncey entry. In addition Miller had only a 69 point lead for the National Championship heading into the last heat of the season.
Miss Budweiser started the final heat on the outside, entered the first turn ahead and came out of the corner in lane three. Miller American was hosed down in the process. Miss 7-Eleven, who had slid out to lane 2 after starting inside of Miss Budweiser, was bumped into the infield losing part of her tail fin. Nevertheless 7-Eleven kept after Budweiser and was only three seconds back at the end of lap 1. She cut the margin to two seconds in the second lap and maintained this margin until the fourth circuit of the course when she fell back. Miss 7-Eleven was 20 seconds behind Budweiser after five laps and Miller American was another 8 seconds behind her.
However Miss 7-Eleven was penalized a lap for going inside the course on her initial lap. She might have avoided this penalty if it had been ruled that Miss Budweiser had forced her inside the course. An anti-Budweiser ruling would have given the regatta to Miss 7-Eleven and the High Point Championship to Miller American.
The ruling partly turned on whether Miss Budweiser had a reasonably safe distance over other entries in going from lane 5 to lane three in the first turn. It was determined that she had this distance even though Miller American had been washed down.
On the other hand Miss 7-Eleven had slid out and if she hit a legal Miss Budweiser then she deserved to be penalized.
There were hot tempers and a good argument could be made either way. However at the end of the day Miss Budweiser won the race and the World High Point Championship.
[Statistics and summary from Greene, V.2]