The New "Miss Bardahl" [1967]

King of the Hill Again

by Harry Monahan

Ole Bardahl's green, yellow and black banner waves in triumph above the unlimited hydroplane fleet again, hoisted there almost effortlessly by taciturn young Billy Schumacher, who drove the bright yellow new Miss Bardahl to victory in six of the eight races on the 1967 circuit.

Schumacher clinched the boat and driver national championships for the Seattle racing team by winning the Sacramento Cup on Northern California's Lake Folsom on Sept. 17. But he added a flourish to the very successful season by winning the finale, the San Diego Clip on Mission Bay Sept. 24.

The championships climaxed a brilliant comeback season for a veteran racing team which seas virtually decimated through accidents the 1966 season.

The 24-year-old Schumacher, hand-picked to someday be successor in Miss Bardahl's cockpit, now never faltered in bringing Miss Bardahl back to the lead of the fleet in 1967. Miss Bardahl soon the '67 season opener at Tampa, Fla., then was waylaid by mechanical problems in the world championships at Detroit. Bill Sterett's Miss Chrysler Crew took the title at Detroit while Jim Ranger and his My Gypsy took over the top rung in the national standings.

Then the Golden Dragon started to roll as Schumacher piloted Miss Bardahl to three straight victories at Madison, Ind., and Pasco, Wash., and in the prestige-laden Gold Cup in home waters on Seattle's Lake Washington. Rookie Mike Thomas, driving Miss Budweiser, snapped the Bardahl string in a classic bow-to-bow duel far the British Columbia Cup at Kelowna, B.C. But Schumacher evened accounts with Thomas at Sacramento, taking top prize-and the national titles — there on the basis of 53 seconds of elapsed time when they ended up tied on points after 45 miles of racing.

Schumacher wasted no time on Mission Bay's new 2½-mile oval course, ripping off the fastest 15-mile heat of the season in the opening test witnessed by more than 15,000 spectators. Matched against the Thomas — Miss Budweiser combination and Mira Slovak, last year's driver national champ, with Miss Chrysler Crew, Miss Bardahl averaged 107.784 mph, only 1.972 mph below the unlimited 15-mile world record for a 2½-mile course. Miss Budweiser grabbed second with Miss Chrysler Crew third. Fred Alter drove Parco's O-Ring Miss to a relatively easy win in the second race of the first round, and Bill Muncey, in Miss U.S., had an even easier time in the third race, leaving the opposition scattered around the course. Miss LaPeer, driven by Warner Gardner, lost her propeller on the first lap; Jim McCormick had to nurse Wayfarers Club Lady around the course after she blew a supercharger; Walt Kade misjudged the start and had to take an extra penalty lap in Savair's Mist.

But Muncey also dominated his second heat test, taking the measure of My Gypsy and Miss Chrysler Crew, averaging 103.250 mph for the 15-mile tour. Schumacher accepted the challenge, however, and soon the second race of the second round and hit 105.551. Wayfarers Club Lady came out of the first turn leading, but the bright yellow streak of Miss Bardahl flew by her on the backstretch and was never headed.

This sent Muncey and Schumacher into the final heat tied for the lead with 800 points each. But the final sixboat field proved to be too hot to handle with four boats over the line early, Parco's O-Ring Miss and Miss Chrysler Crew being the only legal starters. Slovak's good fortune didn't last long, however, as Miss Chrysler Crew died in the south turn at the start of the third lap. All Alter had to do seas cruise around the course to bring Parco's O-Ring Miss home first.

Miss Bardahl and Miss U.S. battled bow-to-bow through five laps with Schumacher gaining a gradual edge. In a final fruitless bid to catch and subdue Miss Bardahl, Muncey whipped Miss U.S. around the 2½-mile oval at a speed of 111.38 mph on the fourth lap, posting the fastest single lap of the '67 season.

The two leaders offered an interesting contrast in driving styles during the seven-beat program. To keep speed up, Schumacher carried all the turns wide, sideslipping deftly out of the turns, making up the extra distance with sheer speed. Muncey, however, throttled down oil the turns, hugging the buoys so tightly he could almost reach out and touch them, counting on quick acceleration out of the turns.

Despite the ease of his final heat win, Alter had to settle for second place in the final standings, falling 75 points short of Miss Bardahl which claimed the San Diego Cup with 1100 points after taking second in the last heat. Muncey matched Alter in total points, but lost second place by a matter of 45.6 seconds in total elapsed time for the 45 miles of racing.

Consolation prize for Muncey was second place in the final driver national championship standings, edging out McCormick by 47 ponits. Despite her problems, Miss Chrysler Crew protected second place in the boat standings.

In a co-feature with the unlimited races, Bob Nordskog, 54-year-old boat builder and long distance speedboat racer from Van Nuys, captured first place and $4,250 in the inaugural running of the San Diego 250-Mile Championship Race held oil the same Mission Bay course the day before the San Diego Cup action. Nordskog covered the 100 laps ill three hours, 43 minutes, 45.41 seconds. Second place went to Mike Wallace of Anaheim with Lou Brummett of Pasadena third in the 43-boat fleet.

Hartley W. White, 40-year-old insuranceman from Rialto, was killed during the 250-Miler when his boat flipped on the sixth lap. White died almost instantly from multiple fractures. White's boat leaped out of the water three times just before getting to the south turn. The second bounce slammed White back against the motor and then he was thrown from the boat and the cartwheeling hull struck him. He was lifted from the water by Coast Guard helicopter, but was pronounced dead oil arrival at Scripps Memorial Hospital.

FINAL STANDINGS SAN DIEGO RACE - 1. Miss Bardahl, 1 100 points; 2. Parco's O-Ring Miss, 1,025; 3. Miss U.S., 1,025 (Parco's O-Ring Miss awarded second place on basis of total elapsed time for 45 miles, 27:01.5 to 27:47.1); 4. My Gypsy, 769; 5. Miss Budweiser, 600; 6. Miss Chrysler Crew, 450; 7. Savair's Mist, 427; 8. Wayfarers Club Lady, 394; 9. Atlas Van Lines, 338; 10. Savair's Probe, 225. No points scored by Miss LaPeer, Miss Eagle Electric and Hilton Hy-Per-Lube.

SEASON'S FINAL STANDINGS; 1. Miss Bardahl, 8,325 points: 2. Miss Chrysler Crew, 5,354; 3. Miss U.S., 5,038; 4. My Gypsy, 4,959; 5. Miss Budweiser, 4,904; 6. Wayfarers Club Lady, 4,391; 7. Savair'.s Mist, 3,472; 8. Miss LaPeer, 3,445; 9. Atlas Van Lines, 3,230; 10. Savair's Probe, 3,005; 11. Notre Dame, 1,740; 12. Parco's O-Ring Miss, 1,625; 13. Harrah's Club, 1,4.50; 14. Miss Wickman, 1,159; 15. Miss Madison, 1,150; 16. Hilton Hy-Per-Lube, 1,102; 17. Miss Eagle Electric, 525; 18. $ Bill, 469; 19. Miss Smirnoff, 225.

Bill Schumacher with 8325 points leads all unlimited drivers in points for the national championship for 1967.

(Reprinted from Sea and Pacific Motor Boat, November 1967, pp.33, 86)