1979 Golden Spike Governor's Cup

Chip Hanauer's First Unlimited Victory

The Squire Shop Wins It all

by Craig Fjarlie

Some people had been waiting a long time. Some people had almost given up hope. Some people wondered if they'd live to see the day. Bill Muncey lost a boat race.

Chip Hanauer, driving The Squire Shop, won the Golden Spike Governor's Cup on Willard Bay near Ogden, Utah last Labor Day. The victory was Hanauer's first in the Unlimited class.

A fleet of eight boats turned out for the regatta. The U-3 (Tri-City Tile & Masonry), driven by Jack Schafer, suffered damage during qualifying and had to be withdrawn. A propeller blade broke off, causing the shaft to twist and disengage. The force damaged the strut and possibly a couple of frames.

The course was slightly less than 2½ miles around; 2⅜ was one figure reported to the press. A 2½ mile timing chart was used, so all speeds were inflated. The altitude, nearly 4,500 feet, caused problems for a number of crews. Carburetor adjustments became critical, and some teams spent the entire test period searching for the right combination. Hardest hit seemed to be the Miss Circus Circus, which was towed in a number of times. Fastest qualifier was Bill Muncey in Atlas Van Lines who toured the course at 137.405.

When the drivers' meeting was held Sunday afternoon, Tad Dean's Miss Budweiser (Schrader Wood Stoves) was still unqualified. Officials pored over their notes trying to decide if a rule passed at Evansville applied at the Utah race. (They decided it did.) Would four six-boat heats be held, with the Miss Budweiser as alternate should it qualify, or would a draw be held, splitting the boats 3 and 3, with the Miss Budweiser going into 1-A if it qualified? The rule was crystal clear, specifying four six-boat 'heats. If a seventh boat qualified it would be designated the alternate. The idea was to prevent three-boat heats. "I'm sure Tad's boat will qualify," observed chief referee Bill Newton. Then he ordered a draw. The intent of the rule was ignored. The Miss Budweiser got helped into the race by a cooperative official. Spectators saw three of the dullest elimination heats in recent memory.

Heat 1-A featured Miss Van's P-X, Miss Circus Circus, Miss Budweiser and the U-69, running as Schrader's Wood Stoves. Chenoweth took the inside at the start, with Reynolds next to him. The two battled through the first turn, with Circus Circus holding a slight edge. Exiting the corner, Circus hooked, hopped twice, and slid into the path of the Budweiser. Chenoweth turned right, through Reynolds' roostertail. The move to avoid a collision cost Chenoweth a couple of seconds, and by the time he got going, Reynolds had a buoy-length lead.

Reynolds held his lead for two laps, ..with Chenoweth keeping a cautious distance between himself and the U-31. Gradually, Chenoweth began to make his move. He closed the gap, and on the third lap, pulled even. Chenoweth challenged for the better part of a lap, before Reynolds backed off. Circus Circus was evidencing handling problems, and the right upright on the wing support was damaged in the first turn spin. When the boats entered the last lap, Chenoweth got the green flag, Reynolds didn't. Circus Circus had struck a buoy in the third lap and the officials penalized him for it. The penalty dropped Reynolds to third, behind Van's P-X. The lagging U-69 was lapped by everyone,

Heat 1-B consisted of Dr. Toyota, Atlas Van Lines and The Squire Shop. Dr. Toyota took the inside at the start, with Squire next and Atlas wide. Hanauer led through the first turn and was never seriously challenged. Muncey settled for second and Dr. Toyota brought up the rear. On the second lap, Muncey ran over the entrance buoy to the first turn, but the officials thought his wake had hit it, or something. At any rate, there was no penalty assessed, although incriminating orange and green paint decorated the underside of the Atlas Van Lines left sponson. A penalty lap would have made no difference in the heat standings, as both Squire and Atlas lapped the Dr. T.

Heat 2-A featured Circus Circus, the U-69, Budweiser and Dr. Toyota. Chenoweth again took the inside at the start with Reynolds to his right. Bud led through the first turn, with Circus on his hip. At the halfway point of the backstretch, Circus Circus came to a halt. The U-31 had broken another prop, shed another shaft, and damaged another strut, The force popped the deck at the transom. This time, the boat didn’t sink. The heat degenerated into a miserable parade, with Bud first, Dr. Toyota second and the U-69 third. The only anxious moment occurred when the U-69 reached its last corner. The engine died, the boat stopped. Tom Martin quickly restarted and finished.

Spectators who thought 2-A was dull were in for an even worse display in 2-B. Atlas Van Lines charged into the lead and never looked back. Hanauer was content to take second, averaging five miles an hour less than Muncey. Van's P-X never got on a plane, having blown a hose on one of its plenums. After a lap of chugging, Armstrong was black-flagged.

The course was certified for six boats, so with Circus Circus out, everyone else was in the Final. The real race occurred during the dicing in the one-minute gun period. Chenoweth and Muncey were so involved with each other, they completely disregarded the clock and the competition. Moving into the shape-up turn, Chenoweth won the inside lane from Muncey. The Atlas had no place to go, and climbed the Bud's roostertail, Muncey had a roller coaster ride, and it undoubtedly cost him the race. He was at one point completely airborne, bow pointed skyward. The right upright on the wing support was broken, and Atlas stalled momentarily. Muncey got going again, and both he and Chenoweth headed for the line early. Budweiser jumped the gun by a full buoy length, Muncey by a roostertail, Hanauer was right on the money, with Armstrong, Maschmedt and Martin trailing.

Physically, Budweiser led the parade, with Atlas second. Hanauer, the true leader, ran third. At the exit pin of the second corner of the third lap, Atlas came to a stop. Muncey later restarted and ran another slow lap before the damaged, water-logged boat came to a permanent halt.

Hanauer nearly jumped out of the cockpit when he received the checkered flag. One of the most talented and deserving drivers in the fleet finally got a long-awaited win. Van's P-X took a strong second. Miss Budweiser lapped the two stock Allison boats and took third. Dr. Toyota was fourth, U-69 fifth and Atlas DNF.

Chip Hanauer's victory proved a popular one. "It feels great," he said. "I can't express it," He finally did what many people have been unable to do. He beat Bill Muncey.

— Unlimiteds Detroit