1965 Indiana Governor's Cup
Governor's Cup Regatta
If regatta success is measured in terms of spirited dueling, threatening weather, good boat performances, an accident to thrill spectators, and a dispute between drivers to please the hot-tempered -- if regatta success is measured by these things, the Sept. 5 Madison, Indiana Governor's Cup was a rousing success.
Tahoe Miss, with Chuck Thompson driving, won the event the second consecutive year. Following the Detroit win a week previously, this gave the team a two-race score of six consecutive heat victories, which is nice winning any way you care to view it.
It was especially nice after what owner Bill Harrah termed "a long dry spell" during which Tahoe Miss not only won no races, but had difficulty finishing or starting heats! Until Detroit, the sleek Gray Ghost of Lake Tahoe had not won an event since Labor Day, 1964.
For Miss Bardahl and Ron Musson, the removal to second overall, and fifth in the Final Heat, was a severe shock. Bardahl had the race won with two heat wins and a hard-fought lead in the Final when an official ruling penalized the team an extra lap.
Dueling between Savair's Mist and Savair's Probe plus the duel between Bardahl and Tahoe Miss will not soon be forgotten. And Bill Cantrell doubtless will remember forever his sky-ride in Miss Smirnoff and subsequent injuries received in an accident both spectacular and unique. Upon recovery from three fractured ribs, badly sprained wrist and neck plus multiple bruises it's expected he will receive twinges of pain to remind him that unlimited racing is not for the weak or the wary.
The regatta began peacefully and sensibly enough with only adverse weather predictions hovering over it in the form of slow-moving, heavy rain clouds. Heat 1A brought an eager Bill Cantrell and Smirnoff into the first turn followed by Miss Lapeer and Warner Gardner who in turn were followed by twin Leaping Lenas, Such Crust and Savair's Mist. Smirnoff came out of the turn first to remain in the lead. Lapeer blew in the first turn of the second lap. Savair's Mist and Ed O'Halloran passed Such Crust and Clarke Williams. Except for a spray-tossing spin out by Such Crust, that was all there was to that heat.
Heat 1B gave Bardahl and Musson a field easily out-classed. Roostertail and Jerry Schoenith ran a dogged second with no hope of catching Bardahl. Blue Chip and Fred Alter settled into third after taking a tremendous leap into the first turn. And the real race was staged by Savair's Probe as Red Loomis tried every racing trick to pass Blue Chip. What Probe gained in the turns was lost on the straights, and what must have been sheer frustration for Loomis was sheer racing delight for watching spectators.
Heat 1C belonged to Tahoe Miss wire to wire. Madison and Buddy Byers followed her into the first turn and Notre Dame and Rex Manchester took more of Budweiser's roostertail than any boat can handle. By lap two Notre Dame regained speed to pass Budweiser. Then Madison blew a blower to establish the final order of finish: Tahoe Miss, Notre Dame, Budweiser and Madison.
The draw for Heat 2A provided an evenly matched field of Smirnoff, Savair's Probe, Lapeer and Budweiser. Lapeer experienced starting trouble and fired up only seconds before the one minute gun. In powering onto the course the boat left a deep wake that proved the undoing of Smirnoff and Cantrell.
With Smirnoff in lane two and ahead, Budweiser in lane one and charging hard and Savair's Probe in lane three almost exactly opposite Budweiser, the three boats pounded toward the first turn.
Smirnoff took a bad bounce upon hitting the first wave of the V-wake left by Lapeer. Upon hitting the second wave the boat took off like a 727 jetliner until the extreme stern was about 20-25 feet off the water with the bow angled skyward.
Spray from the other boats created the illusion that Smirnoff simply disappeared in mid-air as their tails hid Smirnoff's downward progress.
When next seen the boat was idling flat on the water around the center turn buoy and Cantrell was not in sight. Rescue vessels soon located him and sped him to medical aid as other patrol vessels nosed driverless Smirnoff into shore several hundred yards downstream.
A re-draw brought another field to Heat 2A and dropped Heat 2C from the schedule. Bardahl led the Heat 2A Rerun wire to wire. Lapeer pressured hard from second place while Savair's. Probe and Such Crust passed an ailing, the dead, Roostertail.
In lap two Lapeer missed a buoy, picked it up then drove furiously to shake a close Savair's Probe. As Loomis in Probe fought to take second, Lapeer suddenly spurted oil. On windshield, driver, boat side, deck and finally on the engine, the oil sprayed. There, heated intensely, the hot oil began to wrap the entire course in an oval of blue smoke. In lap five Savair's Probe finally passed Lapeer to make the final order of finish Bardahl, Savair's Probe, Lapeer and Such Crust.
Heat 2B gave Tahoe Miss another start-to-finish lead with Notre Dame second, Madison third, Blue Chip fourth and Savair's Mist fifth. The well-spaced heat proved to be only a lull before action.
With Tahoe Miss and Bardahl tied in points for the Final Heat it was mandatory that either win the heat to win the race. Notre Dame with 600 points could place second overall at best if either leader won, more logically would place third. Savair's Probe and Mist with 469 and 427 each were running for fun unless the rest of the field broke down.
In a sizzling start the Bardahl led Tahoe Miss into and out of the first turn. For the remaining five laps Tahoe Miss never ceased to press Bardahl at every opportunity. In return, Bardahl forced Tahoe Miss wide on turns. Notre Dame lay close behind in a safe, sensible third. Half a straight back the two Savair boats dueled up a real storm. Probe and Loomis took turns on the inside to gain distance, then lost space to the acceleration of Mist and Walter Kade on the straight. But finally in lap five the Probe passed as spectators cheered.
Meanwhile, up front an astounding announcement blared across the Ohio River. Bardahl was being penalized a lap for a rule infraction on the start of the heat. As Bardahl thundered across what should have been a wire to wire finish, only the green flag greeted the Green Dragon and her disbelieving driver.
Tahoe Miss got the checkered flat as Bardahl roared through a penalty lap. Overall results placed Tahoe Miss in the winner's circle with 1200 points; Bardahl was second with 929 and Notre Dame third with 900. Savair's Probe placed fourth with 694; Savair's Mist was fifth with 596. Next was Smirnoff, 400; Blue Chip, Such Crust, and Madison, 394 each; Roostertail, 300; Lapeer and Budweiser, 225.
It was inevitable that Musson would question the referee's ruling on the start, which found Bardahl had forced Tahoe Miss inside the course after starting lanes had been established. Since there is no appeal from the referee's decision in unlimited racing, the ruling sticks despite some beach controversy and puzzled searching of the APBA Rule Book for both the letter and spirit of The Law.
Best news of the event came as the crowd dispersed. Cantrell's injuries were less severe than at first reported, and Smirnoff, with only a sponson dented, might be repaired for the Tahoe World Championship Regatta in three weeks.
Other crews, meanwhile packed for the long drive across the nation to finish the 1965 season at Lake Tahoe, Sept. 25, then San Diego, Oct. 3. If a proposed exhibition race on Lake Berryessa, California was accepted following the San Diego race, it was certain the entire unlimited contingent would cry "Enough!" after squeezing 9 regattas and four cross-country trips into a 14-week season.
At any rate, the final two races would determine the outcome of the national high point championship race which, until the Governor's Cup Regatta, was led by Notre Dame. At Madison the Bardahl, with 5477 points, slipped past Notre Dame, 5469, by eight points.
Whether the Green Dragon and Musson could hold and increase this slim lead was only one question the Tahoe event would answer.
Whether Musson could beat Tahoe Miss on her home waters was the other.
(Excerpted from "Following the Unlimiteds . . . From Ogden to Madison" by Eileen Crimmin, Boating News, October 1965)