1990 Seafair Rainier Cup

Chip Charges to Victory in Rainier Cup

By Dr. Ben Keller

Chip Hanauer drove Miss Circus Circus to victory on Lake Washington in the final heat of the Seafair Rainier Cup on August 5. The win was Chip's third of the season and 33rd career victory, and helped him narrow the gap between him and second-place finisher Miss Budweiser and driver Tom D'Eath in the season high-points chase.

Pre-Race Activity And Qualifying

The annual Seattle race week is like no other anywhere in the country. Although relegated to lesser status by the city's print media, especially In the face of the Goodwill Games this year, the hydroplane race is still the largest single sporting event in the Pacific Northwest, Take an estimated 250,000 spectators on the shores of the lake and along the log boom, add a large live television audience and the potential exposure for race and boat sponsors becomes obvious. The crush of people, the button-selling area, moderate weather and additional local race teams (down this year) make for an experience unlike any other on the circuit.

More spectators also mean more people in the pits; fortunately the Seattle committee provides for considerable numbers of security personnel. Although sometimes over-zealous (one police explorer was observed preventing a boat crew from access to the finger pier as their hull was being put in the water), the guards were seen escorting two young people from the pit area defiantly refusing to put out their cigarettes Miss Circus Circus during refueling. After this incident, this writer was wishing for fireproof cameras and hoping the unsupervised young children running around in the hot pits wearing their validated URC pins would have no need for Nomex clothing!

The first day of qualifying occurred on Thurday as the local statute prohibits the boats from running on Saturday of race week. The schedule, therefore, is moved back by one day. Chip Hanauer in Circus was fastest of the fast on Thursday, reeling off a lap of 157.857 mph. Tom D'Eath was right behind at 157.479. These speeds bested last year's course record, set by Miss Budweiser at 154.540, and marked the seventh straight race this year that course records were set in qualifying. The hull used by D'Eath was the 1989 boat, relegated to backup status after Miami this year, as "Thumper" was still at the shop with paint drying after repairs to damage done at Tri -Cities the previous weekend.

Mr Pringles, Winston Eagle and Oh Boy! Oberto all bested the 140 barrier and Holset/Miss Mazda, i107.7/Jackpot Food Mart and U-3 racing this week as Oberto/Wild Waves rounded out the field. Interestingly, the new Ron Jones creation for the Circus camp, referred to as Circus Circus Star in the local print media, hit the water with team manager Dave Villwock at the wheel. Considerably modified since last being tested at Evansville, the removal of two feet from the stern of the hull was the most visible of the changes. The boat made the field at 138.443, but the older hull was still faster and was the one used on race day.

Friday found Al Thoreson's U-7 making the grade at 104.121 mph, but other teams made more news as "Thumper" came lakeside for the Bud camp and set yet another record at 158.620, prompting thoughts of 160+ even on the unpredictable waters of Lake Washington. Jack Barrie made another attempt in the Rolls-Royce Merlin powered KISW Miss Rock which had been repaired after suffering hull damage in a Tri-Cities try. This time the boat was damaged in a fire that was visually spectacular but caused only superficial problems compared to the holes in the hull from the thrown prop the previous week. and Holset/Miss Mazda and i107.7/Jackpot Food Mart increased their Thursday speeds. Scott Pierce drove the 1989 Bud on Friday afternoon at a speed of 149.447 just to keep from getting rusty, but on Sunday Tom D'Eath and "Thumper" would answer the starting gun for the Budweiser team.

The day ended with pit tour guides hoarse from a second straight day of trying to talk over the Blue Angels (just wait until Saturday, guys!) and photographers staking out their places for the precious "tilt shots" as the boats left the pits to participate in the Torchlight parade.

Only Detroit and Madison can approach Seattle in terms of tradition in the sport of hydroplane racing. Part of this tradition came alive on race day as Slo-mo-shun IV ran two exhibition laps prior to the start of heat 1A. Under a 100 mph limitation imposed by the Seattle Museum of History and Industry, driver George Woods and 83-year-old passenger Joe Taggart brought back many memories for those who last saw the Grand Old Lady run in 1956. Taggart drove the boat in its last races in the 50's, The boat used a Dash - 7 Rolls-Royce Merlin prepared by Jim Harvey with accessories by Dave Culley. Although not quite perfectly "authentic" in restoration details, the work done by Dr. Ken Muscatel and others from the Antique Race Boat Foundation of Seattle was immaculate as the hull was in as fine racing trim as it ever had been. Racing legends Ted Jones (the designer) and Anchor Jensen (the builder) were also on hand for the occasion.

A cleaned up KISW Miss Rock made another qualifying attempt Sunday morning, but sat dead in the water as Slo-mo-shun IV made her run for the nostalgia buffs. This left a nine-boat field, the smallest in Seattle since 1969.

Final qualifying Ladder:

Miss Budweiser ( 1987) 158.620 Tom D'Eath
Miss Circus Circus (1987) 157.857 Chip Hanauer
Miss Budweiser (1989) * 157.479 Tom D'Eath
Mr Pringles 149.790 George Woods
Miss Budweiser (1989) * 149.447 Scott Pierce
Winston Eagle 141.654 Jim Kropfeld
Miss Circus Circus * 138.443 Dave Villwock
Oh Boy! Oberto 140.029 Mark Tate
Holset / Miss Mazda 135.266 Mike Hanson
i107.7/Jackpot Food Mart 124.658 Steve David
Oberto/Waves 120.121 Mitch Evans
U-7 104.121 Jerry Hopp
KISW Miss Rock DNQ Jack Barrie

*Qualified but did not start

Seafair Rainier Cup

Heat 1A found the field no match for Chip Hanauer in Miss Circus Circus, who led wire-to-wire, averaging 128.682 for 400 first place points. Jim Kropfeld finished second in Winston Eagle, averaging 124.996. Oberto/Wild Waves and Mitch Evans, Oberto with Mark Tate and U-7 rounded out the order of finish, Mark Tate's steering wheel came loose before the start of the heat causing Oberto to go beyond the outside course boundary and accumulate a one-lap penalty.

During the score up for heat 1B, George Woods hooked Pringles but regained attitude, made a good start, and finished second to Tom D'Eath in Miss Budweiser, who won with an average speed of 132.840. Steve David in Bob Fendler's i107.7/Jackpot Food Mart showed cautious improvement in a third-place finish, but Mike Hanson failed to finish in Madison's Holset/Miss Mazda, the victim of a faulty distributor drive and resultant burned piston.

Heat 2A saw the days best racing, and course records set for competition 10-mile heat and two-mile lap. Chip Hanauer In lane one, Winston In lane three, and gad on the outside were three abreast to the first turn, but Kropfeld lost ground in the corner. Chip and Tom dueled for two laps with Miss Budweiser setting the lap record at 144.308 on lap one. Circus increased its lead slightly until Bud lost power on lap four with Chip then pulling away. Winston nearly beat D'Eath for second but Tom regained power to prevail. Oh Boy! Oberto and i107.7/Jackpot Food Mart rounded out the field. Circus averaged 137.723 for the win, a record pace, however Hanauer was fined $300 for encroaching on Steve David during the five-minute period prior to the start.

Heat 2B was a cakewalk for George Woods in Mr Pringles with a speed of 123.287 for the five laps. Oberto/Wild Waves finished second. The usually consistent U- 7 and Holset/Miss Mazda both failed to finish, the latter throwing a propeller blade which severely damaged strut, shaft, gearbox, and hull. Bob Hughes, owner rep, estimated the damage at over $20,000, an unfortunate occurrence for a team already heavily in debt.

The final heat promised deck-to-deck racing but it was over after the first lap as Miss Circus Circus streaked away to victory. Miss Budwesier suffered propeller damage in lap two but unlike Mazda was able to run well enough to finish second. George Woods and Jim Kropfeld battled throughout for third with Pringles prevailing on the final straightaway.

The Rainier Cup win was Chip Hanauer's second straight and fifth overall on Lake Washington. The awards ceremony held in the Rainier hospitality area featured presentation to the winning race teams and reading of Mayor Norman Rice's proclamation of August 5 as "Ted Jones Day" In Seattle, Also, announcement was made of an effort to name the Lake Washington race course after Ted Jones in recognition of the great designer's contributions to the sport and to the city of Seattle — a fitting tribute and great end to another great day of racing.

Heat 1A: Miss Circus Circus, 128.682; Winston Eagle, 124.996, Oberto/Waves, 107.294; Oh Boy! Oberto, 99.243; U-7, 75.801.

Heat 1B: Miss Budweiser, 132.840; Mr Pringles, 127.228; i107.7/Jackpot Food Mart, 106.497; Holset/Miss Mazda, DNF.

Heat 2A: Miss Circus Circus, 137.723; Miss Budweiser, 130.488; Winston Eagle, 130.132; Oh Boy! Oberto, 113.620; i107.7/Jackpot Food Mart, 107.427.

Heat 2B: Mr Pringles, 125.287; Oberto/Wild Waves, 105.266; U-7, DNF; Holset Miss Mazda, DNF.

  Final heat: Speed Points
1. Miss Circus Circus 137.427 1200
2. Miss Budweiser 130.754 1000
3. Mr Pringles 126.828 925
4. Winston Eagle 126.583 694
5. Oh Boy! Oberto 110.262 465
6. Oberto / Waves 106.900 620
7. 107.7 / Jackpot Food Mart 104.682 423
  Other entrants:
8. U-7   127
9. Holset / Miss Mazda   0
10. KISW Miss Rock   DNQ

 

(Reprinted with permission from the Unlimited NewsJournal August 1990)