1966 Presidents Cup

Sterett Captures Hydroplane Contest

Driver in Debut With Unlimiteds

Manchester, Musson Also Take Heats at Opening of Presidents Cup

By Steve Cady

Washington, June 18 [1966] -- On the banks of the Potomac, cocky drivers of unlimited hydroplanes talked patronizingly today about "the little limiteds" that snarled up and down the river.

For the drivers of the smaller racing boats came the scornful rejoinder "Who wants to see those big pigs run? Unlimiteds are over-rated, and the guys who drive them are prima donnas."

At the 35th Presidents Cup regatta, it was apparent again that nearly everybody in the boat-watching fraternity liked to watch prima donnas and hardly anybody cared about limiteds.

A crowd of 35,000 turned out in the sultry, overcast weather for the opening program of the two-day event. That was 10 times more than the number last year, when only limited inboards competed. At least 25,000 were expected for tomorrow's closing program.

With 13 unlimiteds ready to run, the opening heat was split into three races—five boats in the first, and four each in the others. Tomorrow will see another divided heat of three races and a six-boat final.

Heat 1A went to the rookie combination of Bill Sterett and Miss Chrysler Crew, the first unlimited in modern history to use twin automobile engines rather than surplus aircraft engines.

Notre Dame, the Seattle boat driven by Rex Manchester, won heat 1B. Heat 1C was taken by the radical new front-drive Miss Bardahl, piloted by Ron Musson.

Sterett, the nation champion in the 7-liter class the last three seasons, sent Miss Chrysler Crew to the front on the second lap of the six-lap, 15-mile race. She finished a quarter of a mile ahead of Tahoe Miss, driven by Mira Slovak. Wayfarer Club Lady was third and My Gypsy third. Miss Madison, the early leader, washed out on the first turn and failed to finish.

Noisier Than Jets

According to Sterett, he got more publicity from unlimiteds before he even put his new red and white boat into the water this year than he had from all his championships in the limited classes.

"That's the difference," the Kentuckian said. "An unlimited driver can foul a sparkplug and its written up all over the place. Nobody pays much attention to the limiteds."

He averaged 99.337 miles an hour on the 2.5-mile course, driving conservatively once his lead had become secure.

Notre Dame, which averaged 96.826 miles, had an easy time once she had passed Gale's Roostertail on the lower turn of the first lap. The latter, driven by Jerry Schoenith, held on for second place, followed by Miss Dixi Cola. Savair's Mist broke down on the first lap.

Miss Bardahl, too, was impressive. She is the successor to the boat that won the national championship (with Musson at the wheel) the last three years. Instead of sitting behind the engine, as he did with the old Miss Bardahl, Musson sits in front of it in the new design.

In heat 1C, Miss Budweiser was second, Miss Lapeer third, and $ Bill fourth.

If the three-ton unlimiteds are big pigs in the eyes of limited hydro drivers, they are swaggering, plumed knights of the boat-racing world to the average spectator.

What other boat throws two tons of water into the air at one time in a rooster tail 75 feet high and 300 feet long? What other boat can drown the noise of jet planes, as the "thunderboats" did today to jets taking off from Washington International Airport, just across the river from Hains Point?

The crowd, skimpy and yawning during the preliminary limited-class events, began to swell late in the afternoon as the hour for the appearance of the unlimiteds approached. It will be the same story tomorrow, when the big hydros take to the water at 3:30 p.m.

* * *


(All races 15 miles)

Heat 1A

1. Miss Chrysler Crew, Bill Sterett, driver
2. Tahoe Miss, Mira Slovak
3. Wayfarers Club Lady, Bob Fendler
4. My Gypsy, Jim Ranger
Time—9:03.7, Speed—99.337 mph.

Heat 1B
1. Notre Dame, Rex Manchester
2. Gale's Roostertail, Jerry Schoenith
3. Miss Dixi Cola, Fred Alter
Time—9:17.7, Speed—101.218

Heat 1C

1. Miss Bardahl, Ron Musson
2. Miss Budweiser, Don Wilson
3. Miss Lapeer, Warner Gardner
4. $ Bill, Norm Evans
Time—8:53.5, Speed 101.218


(Reprinted from the New York Times, June 19, 1966)