1979 Jack-in-the-Box Regatta

Miss Circus Circus Triumphs In San Diego

By Craig Fjarlie

People who have never been to San Diego are missing one of the more pleasant stops on the Unlimited hydroplane circuit. The weather is balmy, the course is fast and the crowds are serene. And, this year, the Jack-In-The-Box race was one of the best of the season.

The September 16 contest marked an overdue triumph for Steve Reynolds and Miss Circus Circus. Prior to the San Diego stop, the season for Reynolds had been marked by either frustration or second place. Persistence has its rewards and Reynolds got his after A long wait.

A dozen boats filled the pits on East Vacation Island. Bill Muncey paced the qualifying rounds with a record-setting 133.929 tour of the course. The Atlas Van Lines, in spite of a defeat at Ogden two weeks earlier, seemed to be back in its winning form. Close behind were Miss Budweiser, in at 131-579, Miss Circus Circus at 130.058, and The Squire Shop at 128.571. The rest of the speeds ranged down to 95.7^5 for Precision Marine. Miss O’Neil & Knudsen churned for about 200 feet in front of the pits and, obviously, didn't qualify.

The first elimination heat had all the makin's of a final. Atlas, Budweiser, Circus, Squire, U-3, and Candyman were drawn together. Each of the drivers, anxious to have an edge on his competitiors, approached the starting line early and had to throttle back. Exiting the first turn, it was Chenoweth first, Hanauer and Reynolds in a tight duel for second. Muncey was caught back in fourth, with Schafer and Turner bringing up the rear.

Chenoweth had things his way, and the awesome Rolls-Griffon won the heat easily. Squire Shop belched coming off the second turn of the first lap, and the craft nearly stopped before Hanauer got it moving again. The Squire Shop's carburetor problem would haunt the team all day, and ultimately cost them the race.

Schafer blew an engine in the second lap, while Muncey obliged his competitors by doing the same on lap Circus Circus took second, Squire third, and Candyman held on for fourth.

Heat 1-B featured Dr. Toyota, Miss Van's P-X, Precision Marine, Electricraft, and U-96. Chuck King didn't start at all, while Miller was shot down by the one minute gun.

Bob Maschmedt timed the start just right and led through the first turn. Armstrong charged after him as the two headed for the second turn. Dr. Toyota got loose on the backstretch, and Van's P-X surged into the lead. The remainder of the heat turned into a parade; it was the only lackluster elimination of the day. Van’s P-X won easily, with Dr. Toyota next and Precision Marine a distant third.

Dean Chenoweth took Heat 2-A. The high flying Budweiser performed flawlessly as the mighty Griffon growled its way to victory. Steve Reynolds ran a strong second. Squire Shop had continuing carburetor problems and placed third, with Dr. Toyota fourth. Again, neither Electricraft nor U-96 started.

Muncey had to win 2-B. There was no other choice. The admission ticket to the Final Heat was a minimum of 400 points. Muncey coveted those 400 big ones, and put his thoughts into action. The races for lesser positions were more exciting. Schafer seemed a shoo-in for second, with Turner trying his best to edge Armstrong for third. In the second turn of lap four, Armstrong made a move on Turner and grabbed third. Then, in a crafty fashion, he began to do the same thing to the U-3. Closer, closer, then into the final turn. Schafer swung wide, and Armstrong played tag with the buoys. At the exit pin, Van's P-X slipped into second and scampered to the line. Schafer came home third, with Turner fourth and Tom Martin a distant fifth in Precision Marine. " "*

The top six, ready for the Final Heat, included Miss Budweiser (800 points), Miss Van's P-X (?00), Miss Circus Circus (600), Dr. Toyota (469), The Squire Shop (450), and Atlas Van Lines (400). Precision Marine (352) was alternate.

The Final Heat start was sloppy, with some drivers early and others late. Muncey wanted to cap the season in style, and the Blue Blaster was hung out as far as it would go as the field swept through the first turn. Muncey exitecl the corner first, with Chenoweth, Reynolds and Hanauer in hot pursuit. What the crowd on shore didn't know was that Referee Lee Schoenith called a one lap penalty on Muncey for forcing Miss Budweiser into a buoy in the initial turn.

The penalty on Muncey bacame a moot point as the boats approached the line at the end of lap one. A plume of fire erupted from the Atlas' engine compartment, and rods went everywhere. Budweiser moved into the lead, but met the same fate as the Atlas a lap later. Chip Hanauer, running wide but fast, assumed the lead for a backstretch. Coming off the second turn in the third lap, The Squire Shop's engine belched again. Victory slipped away as Steve Reynolds slid into the lead. The last two laps were anticlimactic; Reynolds just watched the markers go by until he got the checkered flag. Hanauer held on for second, with Van's P-X taking third, and Dr. Toyota finishing fourth for the sixth time this year.

Muncey and Chenoweth each got tows.

Back in the pits, Reynolds obliged Jim Hendrick's radio network, then went off in search of Muncey, The two hugged each other; Muncey showing obvious pleasure that Reynolds had found the winner's circle at last.

The Circus Circus team accepted their trophy with dignity and pride. The long season had finally paid off.

With Jim Lucero moving over to the turbine Pay'n Pak project next season, the future successes of the Atlas Van Lines are less than assured. The last couple of races in 1979 may give a hint of what's in store. That being the case, 1980 could be anybody's boat race.

— Unlimiteds Detroit