1979 Champion Spark Plug Regatta

Muncey Win's Fourth Straight Miami Race

Exclusive " on-the-scene" . report by Mike Garey

Defending national champion Bill Muncey had it easy once again as the Unlimiteds opened their season with the Champion Spark Plug Regatta June 10 at Miami's Marine Stadium. His Atlas Van Lines minced to victory in three heats against a field of challengers that was made up of new boats, has-beens and also-rans. At least the show was livelier than last year when Atlas coasted home alone in the final heat with no competition at all. This time Steve Reynolds in the refreshingly hopeful Miss Circus Circus added a bit of pressure on the winner to make it look good to the Miami race fans, who have been snakebitten by the thunderboats' performance in recent years.

Eight boats made the scene for this ninth annual race held on beautiful Biscayne Bay. A touch of drama was added to the qualifying trials on Friday when Atlas pulled into the pits from a test run with a gaping three foot hole in her bottom. Crew boss Jim Lucero put his boys to work in an on-the-spot repair job that kept the U-1 on shore until race day. The sparkling new Miss Circus Circus led the qualifiers with a 120 mile per hour run, followed by Atlas, Jack Schafer in the U-3, Milner Irvin in Miss Madison, Bob Maschmedt in the much improved U-8 Dr. Toyota, Terry Turner in the Chevy powered Candyman and Jon Peddie in the My Gypsy, running this race as the back-up Miss Budweiser.

Heat 1-A on race day consisted of Atlas, Circus Circus, Miss Budweiser and Miss Madison. Reynolds chased Muncey for part of lap #1 but fell back to take second on the 1⅔ mile course, shortened from the regular 2½ mile track due to rough seas out in the open bay end of the course. The Gypsy/Bud took a slow third and Madison failed to start after entering the course and stalling in the first turn Atlas went 99.205 for five little laps.

The second, section brought out the U~3, last year's Budweiser, who had. an easy time defeating Candyman and Dr. Toyota. This heat proved historic in that it was the first time a single auto powered boat, namely Candyman, was able to start and finish an Unlimited heat. Brian Keogh's U-70, now a cabover, was to have been in this heat had she qualified.

2-A was a walkaway for Miss Circus Circus. Reynolds averaged 95.755 with a top lap of 103.80 in defeating U-3 and Dr. Toyota. Once again Miss Madison entered the race course and conked out. The crew said it was an electrical problem but it looked more like those nagging fuel problems that have been plaguing Madison boats for years.

Muncey jumped the starter’s gun in heat 2-B, along with Terry Turner in the Candyman. This left the lead to Peddie in the Budweiser. With the extra lap penalty imposed upon him and, with two slow-moving combatants as his competition, Muncey stayed on the gas pedal, lapped the Bud and won the heat.

The mighty Atlas placed another feather in Jim Lucero's war bonnet in the final heat as the U-1 powered through the first turn into the lead and was never headed from there. Circus Circus made an impressive debut by taking second, followed by U-3, Candyman and Budweiser. As one departing spectator was overheard saying, "It's too bad Brian Keogh doesn't drive Atlas. Then he would be the champion." Hmmm.

9th Annual Champion Spark Plug Regatta
1. U-1 Atlas Van Lines Bill Muncey 1200 Points
2. U-31 Miss Circus Circus Steve Reynolds 1000
3. U-3 (Myrna K.) Jack Schafer 925
4. U-5 Candyman Terry Turner 694
5. U-12 Miss Budweiser Jon Peddie 652
6. U-8 Dr. Toyota Bob Maschmedt 450
X. U-6 Miss Madison Milner Irvin Dns
  U-70 (No Name) Brian Keogh Did Not Qualify


— Unlimiteds Detroit