1983 Missouri Governor's Cup

Rich Plan Triumphs In Missouri

The script had been written, the play rehearsed, the seats sold, and the actors prepared. Then somebody changed the script. The rehearsals became meaningless, and the audience witnessed a drama they hadn't paid to see, for the lead actress (Atlas Van Lines) didn't win. Neither did her understudy (Miss Budweiser).

A supporting actress (Miss Rich Plan Food Service), the kind that are supposed to get little of the publicity and none of the glory, stole the show. Approving loudly was the Lake of the Ozarks audience. Approving with ample praise were the critics, who also proclaimed that justice had been served by the ending. Such a proclamation is quite rare in the stormy theatre of unlimited hydroplane racing.

As always, act one for the unlimiteds begins with qualification trials. By the end of day one, five boats had achieved the 90 miles per hour minimum average speed. By Saturday, the total had reached seven. Miss Pure D’Lite, driven by its new owner Bobbie Howard, bumped the count to eight with a successful Sunday morning qualification attempt. Top qualifier was Chip Hanauer, who drove his Atlas Van Lines to a 133.531 mph speed. Jim Kropfeld and Miss Budweiser were second best at 132.548. Then came Ron Snyder/Rich Plan Food Service (125.348), Earle Hall/The Squire Shop (122.783), Fred Leland/American Speedy Printing (106.888), Todd Yarling/Miss Tosti Asti (105.263), and George Johnson/Executone (103.211).

Although American Speedy owner Fred Leland managed to qualify his boat, he was not eligible to drive during the race due to recently enacted standards for new drivers. Among the new standards is the following requirement: "A driver who did not participate in an unlimited event during the immediate previous two racing seasons must produce documentation from APBA administrative offices stating that he has at least twenty heats of competition in the past two calendar years in the following classes: 280, 225, 5 litre, 7 litre division I, 7 litre division II, Mod U, Mod 120, SST 120, KRR, GPI, or Champ boat. At least five of the twenty required heats must be in one of the following classes: 225, 5 litre, 7 litre division I, or GPI. Of the required twenty heats, the driver must document that he has finished first, second, or third in no less than 50% of the required heats." Leland was unable to satisfy this requirement, so a phone call was made to Jack Schafer in California. Schafer caught a Saturday evening flight to St. Louis and arrived at the race site prior to Sunday's first heat.

Because the race was being run under the "fan plan" format, the four fastest qualifiers (Atlas, Bud, Rich Plan, and Squire) were entered into heat 1A. The remainder were entered into heat 1B. As the boats of heat 1A entered the "shape-up" turn (the turn before the run to the starting line), Budweiser was on the inside and Atlas was alongside Bud. Squire and Rich Plan were a roostertail behind. At the apex of the turn, The Squire Shop spun 270 degrees and went dead. Atlas and Bud proceeded down the front straightaway to the starting line with Rich Plan trailing. The two leaders exited the first turn together and raced down the backstretch. As the two entered the second turn of the first lap, the drivers saw the floating Squire Shop for the first time. Kropfeld ducked inside the Squire but Hanauer was forced to maneuver his craft to the outside. There was room for one boat, but little more, on that inside path. Hanauer's maneuver gave Bud a lead which Hanauer attempted to close. The attempt ended in the first turn of lap three when the defending national champion boat came to a halt with a blown engine. Miss Budweiser went on to an easy win. Rich Plan was second.

Heat 1B was a three-boat affair as the American Speedy Printing had a sick engine and was unable to make the start. Executone and Miss Pure D’Lite crossed the starting line together with Executone on the inside. Miss Tosti Asti trailed badly. For five laps the two unlimiteds were virtually even. Executone won the drag race off the last turn to earn first place. Miss Pure D’Lite was second and Miss Tosti Asti was a very distant third.

Atlas driver Hanauer won the inside for the start of heat 2A. On the outside was Squire and Miss Bud was in the middle. Rich Plan trailed. For two laps Kropfeld kept his craft in the lead on the outside, although he was unable to establish a large enough lead to create an overlap and consequently take the inside position. On lap number three Atlas erased the U-12's lead and had pulled ahead at the apex of the second turn. The Atlas's supercharger then let go and Miss Budweiser went on to her second straight heat victory. Meanwhile, Rich Plan had passed The Squire Shop by the end of the first lap and had moved into second when the Atlas went dead. Squire Shop came in third.

Executone and Miss Pure D’Lite appeared to be on their way to another five-lap battle in heat 2B, although for this heat the inside belonged to the Miss Pure D’Lite. The five-lap duel came to a premature end when the Miss Pure D’Lite broke a propeller while leading slightly at the end of the first lap. Executone cruised to an easy first place finish over the Miss Tosti Asti in this last preliminary heat.

Despite having earned a grand total of zero points in the preliminary heats, Atlas Van Lines was granted one of the final heat slots. Eligible via just means were the Miss Budweiser, Rich Plan, Squire Shop, and Executone. Miss Tosti Asti was designated the alternate.

In preparation for the final, Executone changed an engine, and Atlas combined the supercharger from the engine they blew in heat 1A with the block of the engine that lost its supercharger in heat 2A. The engine surgery was successful and Atlas managed to get onto the race course with little time to spare. Not so fortunate was the Executone , which experienced a starter-motor failure while attempting to trailer-fire the engine. Without enough time to change the starter, the Executone was forced to withdraw, thereby giving the Miss Tosti Asti a final heat start.

The start for the final was anything but normal. Rich Plan driver Snyder positioned his boat in good shape in the shape-up turn as Squire and Miss Tosti Asti trailed slightly. Meanwhile, Kropfeld and Hanauer had begun their tricks. As Rich Plan neared the apex of the shape-up turn, Budweiser and Atlas were charging toward the entrance buoy of the turn. Both boats were in the infield and Atlas was closest to the buoy-line of the backstretch. As the two unlimiteds approached the entrance buoy, Hanauer made a most unusual 270 degree left turn. Kropfeld attempted to turn inside of the Atlas and went dead as his engine loaded up, sputtered, coughed, blew black smoke and flame, and finally fell silent. Exit Miss Budweiser. Atlas continued its turn and left the infield at the entrance buoy of the shape-up turn. Meanwhile, Snyder had crossed the starting line without company. Squire and Miss Tosti Asti were trailing the leader. Incredibly, Hanauer and Atlas were nearly a half-lap behind by the time the U-1 crossed the starting line.

At the end of one lap Atlas had managed to pass both Squire Shop and Miss Tosti Asti. Passing Rich Plan was to be a task of a different sort. Lap by lap the Rich Plan lead dwindled, and at the first turn of lap number four the Rich Plan lead was only a roostertail. Atlas got no closer, for at the exit buoy of the first turn of lap number four, Atlas encountered electrical problems and its engine fell silent. Victory belonged to Rich Plan. Squire was second and Miss Tosti Asti achieved third. Said an obviously happy Ron Snyder at the post-race celebrations "It's going to take surgery to get this smile off my face."

Heat 1A
1 Miss Budweiser  
2 Rich Plan Food Service 108.017
- Atlas Van Lines DNF
- The Squire Shop DNS
Heat 1B
1 Executone 101.101
2 Miss Pure D'Lite 100.788
3 Miss Tosti Asti 72.318
- American Speedy Printing DNS
Heat 2A
1 Miss Budweiser 120.321
2 Rich Plan Food Service 111.801
3 The Squire Shop 106.66
- Atlas Van Lines DNF
Heat 2-B
1 Executone 94.837
2 Miss Tosti Asti 85.357
- Miss Pure D'Lite DNF
- American Speedy Printing DNS
1 Rich Plan Food Service 111.248
2 The Squire Shop 104.481
3 Miss Tosti Asti 85.665
4 Atlas Van Lines DNF
5 Miss Budweiser DNS


(Reprinted from the Unlimited NewsJournal, May 1983)