1987 Season Summary
|1.||June 14||Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Championship||Miami, Florida|
|2.||June 28||Budweiser's Thunder on the Ohio||Evansville, Indiana|
|3.||July 5||Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup||Madison, Indiana|
|4.||July 12||Budweiser Thunderboat Championship||Detroit, Michigan|
|5.||July 26||Budweiser Columbia Cup||Pasco, Washington|
|6.||August 2||Seafair Budweiser Cup||Seattle, Washington|
|7.||August 23||Miller American Thunderboat Classic||Syracuse, New York|
|8.||September 20||Miller High Life APBA Gold Cup||San Diego, California|
|9.||September 27||Budweiser Las Vegas Silver Cup||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|6/14||Miss Budweiser (17)||Ron Brown||Jones-Brown||Jones-Brown||Lycoming|
|6/28||Miss Budweiser (17)||Ron Brown||Jones-Brown||Jones-Brown||Lycoming|
|7/5||Miss Budweiser (17)||Ron Brown||Jones-Brown||Jones-Brown||Lycoming|
|7/12||Mr. Pringle's||Dan Heye||Jim Lucero||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|7/28||Miss Budweiser (17)||Ron Brown||Jones-Brown||Jones-Brown||Lycoming|
|8/2||Miss Budweiser (17)||Ron Brown||Jones-Brown||Jones-Brown||Lycoming|
|9/20||Miller American||John Walters||Jim Lucero||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|9/27||Miller American||John Walters||Jim Lucero||Jim Lucero||Lycoming|
|Built||Boat High Points||Total||Team High|
|1.||(1987)||Miss Budweiser (17)||6463||(1-7288)|
|2.||(1973)||Holset Mrs. Madison||5053||(3)|
|5.||(1987)||Miller American (2)||4000||(2-6800)|
|6.||(1978)||Pepsi America's Choice||3848||(6)|
|7.||(1979)||Miss Jackpot Garrett Turbo||3280||(7)|
|8.||(1982)||Oh Boy! Oberto (6)||3021||(8)|
|9.||(1984)||Miller American (1)||2800|
|10.||(1984)||Cellular One (2)||2227||(9)|
|11.||(1980)||Kenney Toyota (3)||2154||(10)|
|12.||(1967)||Miss Lighthouse Inn||1244||(11)|
|14.||(1984)||Miss Budweiser (16)||825|
|15.||(1982)||Miss Rock KISW-FM (3)||788||(13)|
|18.||(1979)||Seaco Aviation Fuels||DNQ|
|20.||(1972)||Miss J&M Cafe||DNQ|
|Driver High Points||Total|
In a major move the Unlimited Racing Commission decreed that all new boats were to have an enclosed cockpit. Further all entries would be required to have a safety capsule beginning in 1989.
Perhaps the incentive for this action occurred in the Tri-Cites during the off season. Miss 7-Eleven driven by Steve Reynolds capsized in a test run with Reynolds walking away with no serious injuries as a result of the enclosed capsule cockpit. In previous such occurrences with no capsule the difference between life or death for a driver was whether the boat spit him out or came down on top of him.
Both Miller American and Miss Budweiser debuted lighter hulls for 1987. The Miller was by Jim Lucero and the Miss Budweiser by Ron Jones and the Budweiser crew. Miss 7-Eleven now Cellular One was nearly rebuilt over the winter replacing her Ron Jones sponsons with some by new crew chief Jim Lucero.
All three turbines had trouble in the salt water at the first race in Miami. Miss Budweiser had less trouble than her two turbine competitors, that didn't finish a heat between them, and won the race. Even at that Budweiser was defeated by Pantry Pride in heat 2-B.
Next to Evansville for a fast two mile course on fresh water. Miss Budweiser took the regatta almost as if the other boats weren't there. She had 14 m.p.h. on the field and was declared by driver Jim Kropfeld to be the best boat ever built. Cellular One defeated Miller American in heat 2-B although showing less than the maximum stability during the race. Miss Budweiser had apparently solved her stability problems experienced in a pre-season blowover.
At Madison Cellular One lost to Miss Budweiser in heat 1-A as her bow started to get light. In heat 2-B the Steve Woomer entry clearly got the better of Miller American. Tragically in her next heat 3-A she led Miss Budweiser off the first turn and then executed a classic blowover severely injuring driver Steve Reynolds. Reynolds was saved by the enclosed capsule for the second time in less than a year.
Miss Budweiser won the regatta being the only undefeated entry in the preliminary heats as further racing was cancelled. Budweiser was 5 m.p.h. faster than Cellular One and had 14 m.p.h. on Miller American.
Miss Budweiser looked like a sure bet at Detroit, but jumped the gun in the championship heat to lose the race. Mr. Pringle's, newly powered by a marine turbine,defeated Miller American for second place to win the Budweiser Thunderboat Championship. Pringle's had been beaten by Miller twice in the preliminary heats and was four m.p.h. down to the Fran Muncey entry. Miller had engine problems in the final, however Pringle's got ahead and stayed there with an engine that was down in horsepower to the Miller American being a marine turbine as opposed to an aircraft turbine.
Both Miller and Budweiser improved upon last year's performance at the Tri-Cities. Miller's new entry exceeded last year's charger by three m.p.h. while Miss Budweiser improved upon the Lite All Star Miss Budweiser by 8 m.p.h. As a result Miss Budweiser had a clear advantage.
Even so Miller American made a strong challenge to Budweiser in heat 2-A before encountering a straggler allowing the Anheuser-Busch entry to get away. In the final heat Miss Budweiser was able to squeeze Miller in the first turn and was away for a nine second win.
In spite of her encouraging performance at the Tri-Cities Miller American slipped back to being 17 m.p.h. behind Budweiser at Seattle. Miss Budweiser easily defeated her in the championship heat helped by the excellent start made by driver Jim Kropfeld.
The Miller American team was in a quandary. Except possibly at the Tri-Cities their new boat just was not competitive with the Miss Budweiser. In fact their old boat run from 1984 to 1986 was also not competitive with the Miss Budweiser based on competition lap times. However the old boat was quicker than the new one and even though heavier was selected for the final two races at San Diego for the Gold Cup and Las Vegas.
First John Prevost - a noted limited driver - and his team manager Artie Ross were allowed to take charge of the Miller organization. Then Ed Karelsen was brought in to do some hull modifications and a Texas firm Stuart and Stevenson was hired to do the engines.
The Gold Cup was to be held on a salt water course at San Diego. No turbine had really done well on salt water although Budweiser had triumphed in two non-competitive races at Miami.
The Gold Cup was important to driver Chip Hanauer in 1987 since with six straight victories he would eclipse Gar Wood's record of five consecutive wins. In addition the 1985-86 Miller American would be going for her fourth Gold Cup which would make her the all time Gold Cup boat over three time winners El Lagarto, Slo-mo-shun IV, and the 1962-65 Miss Bardahl - one of My Sin-Tempo VI's victories was uncontested. Moreover Miller owner Fran Muncey would be after her sixth Gold Cup breaking the record 5 by Stan Sayres and Ole Bardahl.
The Miller American team got some encouragement for their new venture when they turned a qualification lap of 155 m.p.h. Miss Budweiser came in at 152 m.p.h. although she had posted a lap of 155 m.p.h. at the Tri-Cities. These turbines had about 20 m.p.h. on the rest of the field, but could they last on the salt water?
Miller American started out by winning heat 1-A. Miss Budweiser struggled to fourth place in heat 1-B catching fire after the heat. Miller American died on the front stretch preceding the start of heat 2-A while Miss Budweiser recovered from her heat one singeing to take 2-B. However in heat 3-A Miss Budweiser blew over and was out of the race. Miller stayed in the ball game by taking heat 3-B.
Miller American's companions for her date with destiny were Oh Boy! Oberto, Household Finance, Kenney Toyota, Holset Miss Madison and Pepsi America's Choice. All but Pepsi were about 10 m.p.h. slower than Miller American. Pepsi was 30 m.p.h. short of the Miller. Madison, Oberto, and Kenney Toyota had finished all their heats in good shape.
For the championship heat Kenney Toyota and Oh Boy! Oberto were not on the course and running at the one minute gun and were out of the heat. Miss Jackpot Garrett Turbo, another entry about 30 m.p.h. behind the eight ball, was allowed to join the competition as a result. Household Finance was Miller's only reasonably serious opposition and was three seconds behind at the end of the first lap. Miller added three then five then 10 seconds to her advantage to win the 1987 A.P.B.A. Gold Cup ultimately by 34 seconds.
Miller Brewing now had the all time Gold Cup boat owned by the all time Gold Cup owner. However in total victories driver Chip Hanauer was still two behind the great Bill Muncey.
El Lagarto had two chances to win her fourth Gold Cup in 1936 and 1937. Tempo VI (My Sin) had four opportunities in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950 while Slo-mo-shun IV had three potential dates with destiny in 1954, 1955 and 1956. This dramatizes the significance of Atlas Van Lines-Miller American's achievement since after four years she was undefeated in Gold Cup competition.
Las Vegas was the final event of the season and Budweiser had a 1263 point margin for the High Point Championship with 1600 points at stake. As a result of the San Diego blow-over Bernie Little would be forced to run his 1986 standard bearer that was maybe nine m.p.h slower than her 1987 replacement.
Miller beat Budweiser in all three preliminary heats and then took the final after the Bernie Little entry had nothing but trouble. Nevertheless Budweiser won the High Point Championship by 488 markers.
[Statistics from Greene, V.2]