1963 Seafair Trophy Race

Tahoe Miss Bags Seafair Hydro Trophy

by Bruce Calhoun

A new boat with a veteran driver at the helm won the 1963 Seattle Seafair Trophy Race with only six seconds to spare.

Chuck Thompson, with over 150 heats of hydro racing to his credit, came west from Detroit to skipper a brand new craft named Tahoe Miss from Reno to the top spot in the August 11 meeting of the roaring unlimiteds.

The margin wasn’t much but it was enough to place this newest design of Ted Jones, just built this year, over favorite Ron Musson in Miss Bardahl. When the final heat was finished these two were tied up, each having won two firsts and a second for a total of 1100 points. Total elapsed time was the deciding factor with Tahoe Miss clocked at 24:40.0 and Miss Bardahl at 24:46.2. That 6.2 seconds made the difference.

Another favorite, Bill Muncey in Miss Thriftway, running a last race before retirement, won the first heat but conked out with a broken bull gear in the blower in heat 2-B, thus ending a record-breaking career for the boat which had just broken its own record for a 15-mile heat with a speed of 112.500 mph.

All was not well even before the first heat started. Wild Bill Cantrell was taken to the hospital with a stomach ailment. A replacement driver to take over his boat, Gale V, wasn’t needed as she failed to start for the first heat and was scratched.

In that heat 1-A Miss Thriftway finished first; Miss Bardahl, second; Miss Exide (formerly Miss Wahoo to replace the one which exploded in the Diamond Cup Race) was third; Notre Dame, fourth; Tempo, fifth.

Heat 1-B was stopped before one lap was completed with Miss Eagle Electric leading and Tahoe Miss close behind when $ Bill went dead in the south turn and red flares were shot off for Mariner Too which had caught fire in the back stretch. Driver Fred Alter bailed out and was picked up by the helicopter for a trip to the hospital although his burns were not too serious.

A re-run of 1-B found Tahoe Miss finishing first; Miss Eagle Electric, second; and Tempest, third.

The weatherman insisted on an intermission in the afternoon’s program. After starting off the day with sunny skies and warm temperatures that promised no chance of rain, dark clouds gathered in the southwest, a cool wind blew in and lightning flashed in a summer storm of considerable violence which finally blew on to the north.

Heat 2-A, scheduled for 2:15 got under way at 3:45. Tahoe Miss, running at 113 mph in the first lap, took over the lead after trailing Miss Exide, Notre Dame and Tempest across the starting line and finished with her second first heat and a total of 800 points. Miss Exide was second; Tempest, third; Miss Eagle Electric, fourth; Notre Dame, fifth.

Things promised to get really exciting in Heat 2-B with Miss Bardahl cutting inside Miss Thriftway to take the inside at the start although Tempo led both boats across the line. At the south turn Miss Bardahl was still leading Miss Thriftway and held position at the end of the lap. 150,000 hydromaniacs on the shore, barge and boats on the log boom began screaming for their favorites as they could see a "blood" duel shaping up between Muncey and Musson.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Miss Thriftway lost power on the north turn and went dead on the corner. Miss Bardahl held her lead to finish the heat in first spot followed by Tempo, second. $ Bill had been scratched and Mariner Too left the course to enter the pits after the fourth lap in an apparent miscalculation of laps.

Thus it was that Chuck Thompson brought Tahoe Miss out of the pits for the final heat needing at least a second to win and second is what took with Ron Musson bringing Miss Bardahl across the finish line in first place. Tempo was third; Miss Eagle Electric, fourth; and Miss Exide, fifth. Tempest went dead in the north turn of the fourth lap.

It was several minutes after the last heat had finished before the judges made the official announcement of that fateful 6.2 seconds which gave the nod to Tahoe Miss.

Although Thompson in Tahoe Miss won the race and the trophy, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. It was in the backstretch of the first lap of the final heat when, hidden by roostertails of boats he was trying to catch, Thompson’s steed took off into the air, tilted to the left at about a 60-degree angle and then slapped back down on the water right side up. Thompson says he guesses he might have been going too fast — maybe 170 — and that he started out of the cockpit over the right side of the windshield. One hand still on the wheel saved him and somehow he managed to get back in the driver’s seat although he said it might be a few days before he could sit down comfortable again.

Seattle’s Hydro fans were satisfied with the afternoon’s performance and officials are already laying plans for the 1964 event. Rumors continue to flow that Bill Muncey may have retired Miss Thriftway this year but that he isn’t through with the thundering speedboats yet. Time will tell.

In the King Neptune Regatta for limited hydroplanes Billy Schumacher drove his 7-litre Challenger to victory in heats that were interspersed with the big boat heats. Bill Brow in Miss Vitamilk II was second followed by Redskin, third; Yo Yo, fourth; Sun Break, fifth; Sunday Pants, sixth; You Bet, seventh.

Final Scoreboard
1 Tahoe Miss *1100 points $7,000
2 Miss Bardahl 1100 points 3,500
3 Miss Exide *652 points 1,750
4 Tempo 652 points 1,250
5 Miss Eagle Electric 638 points 700
6 Tempest 450 points 500
7 Miss Thriftway 400 points
8 Notre Dame 296 points


(Reprinted from Sea and Pacific Motor Boat, October 1963, p. 44)