1983 Champion Spark Plug Regatta

Budweiser Returns To Form In Miami

Nine boats pulled into the pit area at Marine Stadium in Miami, Florida for the 1983 rendition of the Champion Spark Plug Regatta. The largest field of boats to grace Biscayne Bay since 1972 indicated that this year the race might be something other than one big yawn.

The U-3 Miss Renault joined the same fleet that had done battle at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. With Milner Irvin at the helm of the Miss Renault the new craft was pushed to a 98+ mile per hour average on the 1⅔ mile Miami oval. The new craft is decked out in yellow, white, dark blue with a very short 9" high wing. Experts wondered if this wing is really having much of an effect on the boats handling.

Qualifying was once again led by Chip Hanauer in the Atlas Van Lines and ran all the way down to the Miss Tosti-Asti which was driven by Jack Schafer Jr. Todd Yarling would then drive the craft in competition. The Miss Tosti-Asti is the old CU-22 that ran briefly in 1974 and then resurfaced in a qualification attempt at Houston last year. The boat is now decked out in white, red & green somewhat like the Oberto boats.

The Executone with George Johnson driving wasn’t without problems during qualifications. The boat that sank last year in Seattle is now decked out with a wing/stabilizer and a new cowling courtesy the 1982 Atlas Van Lines. On one qualifying run the entire wing was blown off the boat, returning to the pit area with one upright still standing and the other one laying flat against the deck.

Despite close action in the prelims experts scoffed at the action calling it "staged" Heat 1A was one such heat with a duel between the Miss Budweiser and the Squire Shop with rookie Earle Hall aboard. In the end the results were like this: Miss Budweiser 103.79, Squire Shop 102.020, American Speedy Printing 92.35 and the Miss Renault DNF.

Heat 1B produced a shocker as Atlas with little competition jumped the gun and had to lap Pure D'Lite 87.79 and Miss Tosti Asti 57.68. The Executone quit after one lap, the boat running minus its wing assembly.

Atlas Van Lines and Miss Budweiser easily captured 2A and 2B respectively, setting up what looked to be a real showdown in the final between the two fastest boats on the unlimited circuit.

In the final heat Jim Kropfeld led in Miss Budweiser by a slight margin at the start. Chip Hanauer in the Atlas Van Lines stayed within a roostertail length for one lap but gradually lost ground to the Griffon powered beer boat. During the fourth lap flame shot out of the stacks of Chip Hanauers boat, the U-1 lost power, got going again and was never really endangered of losing second place. Miss Budweiser roared home at 112.994 with Chip taking second at 105.263, followed by the Squire Shop 95.58 Miss Pure D'Lite with Bobbie Howard at 73.171 and Todd Yarling brought up the caboose at an agonizingly slow speed of 43.4.

Bernie Little and Jim Kropfeld and the whole Budweiser crew were extremely pleased to say the least after all it had been a whole season since the Miss Budweiser had reached the winners circle. The beer boat also had a 650 point lead in National high points over Squire Shop. The Griffon powered team looks to have returned to form and will be the boat to beat for 1983.

(Reprinted from the Unlimited NewsJournal, June 1983)