1962 Diamond Cup

Tahoe Miss—A Balky Hydro by Any Name

A ghost, suddenly very much alive, will stalk the unlimited-hydroplane-racing haunts again.

The cantankerous Maverick, put to rest two years ago, is on the prowl. The garb is new, but the skeleton is the same.

A Nevada sportsman, Bill Harrah, collector of antique autos, night clubs and money, calls his newest acquisition Tahoe Miss. But, by any other name (Miss Reno last year), it still is the Maverick of old —roaring, snorting and virtually unchallenged in 1959.

That’s the year, as any hydro fan knows, a Reno cowpoke tamed the ornery critter and rode high in the saddle after winning five races.

Then, the late Bill Waggoner retired Bill Stead and his steed to pasture. But not before the Demon of the Chutes had deposited the richest trophy of racing in the wasteland of the Nevada desert. It took two years of prospecting before Bill Muncey and Miss Century 21 struck it rich and returned the Gold Cup to Seattle.

Not a bolt is being left unturned to restore the Maverick to national-championship caliber of 1959.

A crew of six is devoting 10 hours a day, seven days a week to the task of face-lifting the former Queen of the Hydros.

“Last year was a hurried effort,” said Stead, the boyish-looking Reno rancher who still holds a majority of hydro speed records. “You hardly can count those two races.

“We didn’t get the boat in the water until two days before the first race. And Russ didn’t have enough time in the boat.”........

Miss Reno, with Col. Russ Schleeh in the irons, showed her breeding by finishing a surprising third in the Seafair Derby last August. Weeks later, in a trial run before the Gold Cup race, the Reno’s temperament flared and Schleeh was unseated in a spectacular flip.

Was the Maverick as balky as the name implied? Word got around in hydro circles when the boat was for sale that only Stead was capable of handling the ill-tempered nag.

“It’s true,” Stead said, with a shy smile, “the Maverick always was hard to handle in the turns. But on the straightaway, she was 20 miles an hour faster than any other boat around. And the acceleration was terrific.

“I learned not to worry about the turns, but to catch ’em on the straightaways.

“This is how Russ will have to handle the ‘new Maverick.’ ”

Stead will leave the driving to Schleeh, except, maybe, as a “back-up” driver. Stead is manager of virtually the same racing team that established the Maverick as the fastest hydro on the circuit.

The Tahoe Miss crew includes George Goeschl, Ray Coffee, George Mokski and Everet Adams.

The boat, which will take its first dip in Lake Tahoe in about three weeks, will be powered by specially-designed and -built two-stage, supercharged Allison engines of approximately 3,500 horsepower. On the circuit, which will include only the three Western races, the team will have available five engines, three gear-boxes, four propeller shafts, six propellers and an abundance of other spare parts.

“This is an A-1 operation,” Stead said. “Mr. Harrah insisted it be this way or nothing.”

The Tahoe Miss, by any name, still has a reputation to uphold. Among the records still on the books are: 90-mile Gold Cup race average (104.003); Buffalo Launch Club 15-mile heat (102.778) and race (100.507); and 45-mile Silver Cup race (102.086).

--- June 1, 1962