1969 Seafair Trophy Race

Atlas Starts Seafair Tests With ‘POW!’

By Del Danielson


It wasn’t a sonic boom, but it was just as loud.

Jim McCormick was taking the Atlas Van Lines unlimited hydroplane out for a test run in preparation for Sunday’s Seafair Centennial Trophy Race on Lake Washington.

The boat, after a run of 93.913 miles an hour in the morning, was out for its second go yesterday afternoon. The 12-year-old hull had been towed away from the docking area in the Stan Sayres Memorial Pits, where a thick growth of weeds prevented the boats from moving out under their own power. McCormick touched the starter button and . . .


Parts of the aftercooler on the engine went straight up — 200 feet. And, as they say, the boat was dead in the water.

Crewmen reported that the explosion was due to nitrous oxide in the manifold. A spark from the starting engine ignited the gas, and the several hundred pit-goers momentarily were deafened by the result.

"You’re Damned right I jumped," McCormick replied to the obvious question when he returned to the pits. "I bet I went up about two feet."

The aftercooler was the only thing damaged, and the Atlas was expected back on the course today.

McCormick’s "pop" and a brief, three-way skirmish on the course provided yesterday’s "attractions."

The Miss U.S., the Miss Bardahl and the Atlas found their way onto the course at the same time yesterday morning, and the three thunderboats buzzed around the three-mile course, getting an early feel of the race conditions that should prevail Sunday. Bill Muncey, in the Miss U.S.; Fred Alter, in the Bardahl, and McCormick exchanged the lead several times in the closest thing to a race that hydro fans will see until Sunday.

Alter and the Bardahl were late entries and should add spice to what already promised to be a very competitive race.

Alter turned a lap at 109.091 m.p.h. during the three-sided workout. That qualified the Checkerboard Comet for Sunday’s Race.

Two other boats must qualify for the race, not having been in a previous race this year. Bob Gilliam’s Mister P’s and Ron Kasper’s Wanderer were at the Tri Cities, but did not hit the 100-mile an hour mark to make the finals.

Both boats are here and have until 3 p.m. Saturday to officially get on the program.

An 11-boat field is set. Only the Miss Budweiser had not shown by the 3 p.m. closing of the course yesterday. The Pride of Pay ‘n Pak came in late yesterday to join Savair’s Mist, Parco’s O-Ring Miss, Myr’s Special, Notre Dame, Mister P’s, Wanderer, Atlas, Miss U.S. and the Bardahl.

SPEED TRIALS — With only a few of the hydros having to qualify for Sunday’s race, tomorrow’s speed trials will provide most of the pre-race excitement. An oil company will dish out $1,500 to the boat turning the fastest lap, $750 to the second fastest and $250 to the third quickest.

All boats are expected to compete for the cash prizes.

A drawing was scheduled at 4 p.m. today to establish an order of precedence. Each boat will be given one warm-up lap and two laps in the run for the money. The faster lap will count.

Speed trials begin at 9 a. m. tomorrow.

(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, July 31, 1969)