1973 Kentucky Governor's Cup

Dean Chenoweth and Bernie Little join forces
to win the 1973 Kentucky Governor’s Cup

The 1973 Unlimited season saw the introduction of the “winged wonder” Pay ‘n Pak, the first boat to sport a horizontal stabilizer wing (patent pending). Owner Dave Heerensperger had Ron Jones fashion the hull. He had Jim Lucero to manage his racing team, and he hired Mickey Remund to drive. The result was a victory in the first race at Miami.

Two weeks later. Gene Whipp replaced George Henley in the turbocharged Allison-powered Lincoln Thrift 7¼% Special and won the President’s Cup at Washington D.C., leaving Pay ‘n Pak and in his wake. Whipp then retired after winning his only start as an Unlimited driver.

The ‘73 season was starting out in fine competitive fashion.

Next came the Kentucky Governor’s Cup race June 17th on the 2-1/2 mile Ohio River course at Owensboro. Ten boats made the scene, including U-3 Mister Fabricator, the former Tahoe Miss, with Ohio’s Tom Kaufman making his debut in the thunderboats. Tom D’Eath brought George Simon’s new Miss U.S., reworked after failing to qualify in Miami. Bob Gilliam arrived with the wildly-painted U-16 Valu-Mart, which was formerly Fred Alter’s Towne Club.

Charlie Dunn resigned as Miss Madison’s pilot and was replaced by Tom Sheehy for the season. Also entered were Remund in the Pay ’n Pak, Dean Chenoweth in Miss Notre Dame, Bill Muncey in Atlas Van Lines, Fred Alter in Gale’s Roostertail, Jim McCormick in Red Man, and Andy Miller replacing Whipp in Lincoln Thrift Special. Not entered was Shirley Mendelson McDonald’s Notre Dame, which received hull damage in the previous race.

A determined Bill Muncey won the opening heat over Red Man and Valu-Mart. The Notre Dame developed engine trouble and finished fourth.

The Pak had an easy time in Heat 1-B, besting Miss U.S., Roostertail, and Fabricator. Miss Madison couldn’t get started.

Bob Gilliam got the jump on the field in Heat 2-A, and powered his Valu-Mart to victory after Mickey Remund was penalized a lap and settled for fourth behind Roostertail and Fabricator. Lincoln Thrift finished fifth.

Miss Notre Dame took the last preliminary heat over Red Man, Atlas Van Lines and Miss Madison. Miss U.S., built of lightweight titanium, was disqualified and returned to the pits a battered hull. Tom D’Eath was in for yet another rebuild job before the next race at Detroit.

The Final Heat was somewhat of a mess as the favored Pay ‘n Pak floated lifeless at the one-minute gun, unable to get started. Likewise, Valu-Mart chugged to a halt prior to the start. This left Miss Notre Dame, Atlas Van Lines and Red Man to run for the roses.

Muncey, the defending champ, really pushed Chenoweth hard for the six laps, but the Bud driver averaged 104.166 mph to Atlas’ 103.151. Red Man was third at 91.

[Reprinted from Thunderboat, May 2012]