1967 Atomic Cup

The Atomic Cup

A rugged Miss Bardahl outlasted 13 rivals on July 23 to win the second annual Atomic Cup regatta for unlimited hydroplanes in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. Racing on the Columbia River 24-year-old Bill Schumacher, youngest driver on the unlimited circuit, endured a smashed windshield and a bilge fire to post his third victory of the season. An average speed of 102.389 m.p.h. by second-place Miss Chrysler Crew actually bettered Bardahl's clocking of 101.161 for the 45 miles.

Driver Bill Sterett thrilled the spectators with a quick maneuver in the initial heat. From his third place position at the start, Bill steered Miss Chrysler Crew around Miss Atlas Van Lines and past Miss Budweiser midway up the backstretch of the first lap. No one could catch the fleeing Kentucky veteran as he extended his lead on each lap. Miss Budweiser trailed by 9.2 seconds at the finish followed by My Gypsy and Atlas Van Lines. Savair's Mist went out with a blown supercharger on the second lap.

Jack Regas showed the fans his eight-year racing retirement had not dulled his sense of timing in heat 1-B. The former national champion brought Notre Dame across the starting line as the gun sounded and into an early lead on the backstretch. Runner-up Miss Bardahl quickly moved into contention and ahead as the leader began to falter at the end of the stretch. Schumacher continued to move away from the field and held a 20 second edge over Wayfarers Club Lady at the finish.

Miss U.S. led the three boat-field from start to finish in heat 1-C. Pressed by an early challenge by Miss Lapeer, three time national champion Bill Muncey pushed the Detroit hydro to a record 110.024 m.p.h. lap the first time around. Four laps later when the challenger pulled into the infield with a "blown rod" $ Bill, piloted by Norm Evans, moved into second.

At the start of heat 2-A, Miss U.S. appeared to be on her way to duplicate her performance of the previous event. Muncey took the lead at the first turn ahead of Savair's Probe, Miss Budweiser and My Gypsy. On each lap he extended the advantage another five seconds. Then less than a quarter of a lap from the finish, an oil starved gear box sent the U.S. to the infield. Savair's Probe moved up to first with Miss Budweiser and My Gypsy following.

A three boat field answered the starter's gun in heat 2-B. It was Harrah's Club over the line first with Miss Bardahl and Atlas Van Lines, a length behind. At the corner, Schumacher steered to the inside with the Nevada boat still a length ahead on the outside. Up the backstretch a torrid duel developed as the two roared deck to deck. At the deceleration buoy Harrah's entry shot past as the youngster prepared to turn. In passing, the massive roostertail thrown up by Harrah's Club destroyed the Bardahl's windshield and momentarily slowed the craft. Bruised by the debris striking his face and curtailed by limited visibility of his goggles Bill continued in pursuit of the leader. Two laps later the Tahoe speedster was forced to withdraw when her supercharger expired and Miss Bardahl went on to finish alone. Atlas Van Lines had retired earlier with gear box failure.

Wayfarers Club Lady led Miss Chrysler Crew across at the start of heat 2-C and never relinquished the advantage. Repeated challenges by the twin "hemi-powered" contender pushed Jim McCormick in the Diner's Club entry to a new heat record of 105.386 m.p.h. for six circuits of the 2½ mile Pasco course. Chrysler Crew finished five seconds back followed by Notre Dame and $ Bill.

The top six boats qualified for the final event. Miss Bardahl had 800 points, Chrysler Crew and Wayfarers Club Lady tied with 700 each followed by Miss Budweiser with 600, Savair's Probe 569 and $ Bill with 469. In the event of a tie, total elapsed time would be the deciding factor. At this point Chrysler Crew held a 28.6 second edge over Miss Bardahl and 7.6 seconds advantage over Wayfarers Club Lady.

With the outcome of the Atomic Cup resting on the final heat, the start was all-important. As expected, the three leading contenders with near-perfect timing came down together as the gun sounded. At full racing speed

Miss Bardahl hugged the buoy line, Chrysler Crew took the outside with Wayfarers Club Lady in the center. Streaking to the first turn the Chrysler entry rounded the corner and started up the backstretch in the lead. A length behind, Miss Bardahl began to challenge from the inside. Two lengths back Wayfarers Club Lady pressed the leaders. Midway up the backstretch Bardahl drew even then lost ground as Sterett maintained boat speed far into the turn. Coining out the veteran steered very close to the exit buoy and into the inside lane. Not daunted by this maneuver, young Schumacher took his craft to the outside and began to reduce the four length advantage held by tile automotive powered craft. It was a tremendous spectacle as the two leaders raced almost dead even to the backstretch of lap two when the heavier Rolls-powered Bardahl passed the Chrysler entry.

Behind the blistering duel for the lead Wayfarers Club Lady maintained third followed by Savair's Probe and Miss Budweiser. $ Bill failed to finish. Three heat wins gave Miss Bardahl a total of 1,200 points, the Atomic Cup and $5,000. For second Chrysler Crew earned $3,700 followed by Wayfarers Club Lady $2,700, Savair's Probe $2,100, Miss Budweiser, $1,600, $ Bill $1,250, My Gypsy $1,050, Miss U.S. $850, Notre Dame $750, Harrah's Club $700, Atlas Van Lines $625, Savair’s Mist $500 and Miss Lapeer $500.

Final Standings:

1) Miss Bardahl, Bill Schumacher, 1200 pts.;
(2) Miss Chrysler Crew, Bill Sterett, 1000 pts.;
(3) Wayfarers Club Lady, Jim McCormick, 925 pts.;
(4) Savair's Probe, Bob Miller, 738 pts.;
(5) Miss Budweiser, Mike Thomas, 727 pts.;
(6) $ Bill, Norm Evans, 469 pts.;
(7) My Gypsy, Jim Ranger, 450 pts.;
(8) Miss U.S., Bill Muncey, 400 pts.;
(9) Notre Dame, Jack Regas, 352 pts.;
(10) Harrah's Club, Chuck Hickling, 300 pts.;
(11) Atlas Van Lines, Bob Schroeder, 169 pts.;
(12) Savair's Mist, Walt Kade, 0 pts.;
Miss Lapeer
, Warner Gardner, 0 pts.;
Hilton Hy-Per-Lube
, Bob Gilliam, 0 pts.


— Bob Brinton

(Reprinted from Yachting, September 1967, pp.209-210)