1983 Stroh's Thunderfest

Chip's Got Spirit

By Mickey Kress

Atlas Van Lines finally broke into the winner's column June 26 in the Stroh's Spirit of Detroit Regatta. Hanauer outlasted the unruly Detroit River and a struggling Miss Budweiser with Jim Kropfeld aboard to claim his first win in four 1983 starts and his second consecutive Detroit race.

The race-day course was its usual cantankerous self. If the brisk, up-river breeze had been 20 degrees more westerly, there would have been no racing. As it was, two hulls were damaged on race day in addition to the U-18 Dobson Movers being destroyed when Jon Peddie hit a roller near the Detroit Boat Club during Thursday's practice. Peddie was sore all over but escaped serious injury.

The fan plan format matched the five fastest qualifiers in heat 1-A. In the latest edition of their milling-around period head games, Hanauer got inside of Kropfeld and was off to a flying start. His maneuver couldn't overcome Miss Bud's power, however, and Kropfeld passed him in the belle Isle turn. Hanauer kept up the pressure but couldn't catch the Beer Boat which finished with a 121.896 - not that it would have mattered. Both Hanauer and Ron Snyder in Miss Rich Plan jumped the gun and ran an extra lap to finish second and third, respectively. Terry Turner's U-5 Richard Buick Special lost an oil line near the finish of lap 3. Turner received a painful burn on his leg, but he was able to fix the problem, restart and finish fourth. The Squire Shop received a hole in its bottom during pre-race testing and driver Earle Hall had to watch from shore.

Bobbie Howard was allowed a qualifying attempt in the Miss Pure D'Lite after 1-A was run but was black flagged after two laps.

Heat 1-B was red flagged before it began because Fred Leland's American Speedy Printing Centers had stalled precariously at the starting line. During the warm-up Todd Yarling in Miss Tosti Asti startled everyone on the seawall west of the pits with a close encounter of the worst kind. It wasn't as scary as Steve Reynolds' near miss in 1979, but Yarling gave the fans a good soaking. George Johnson in Executone, Milner Irvin in Miss Renault and Leland hit the line nearly three abreast on the restart. Irvin won the drag race to the turn but Leland pulled up to run deck to deck down the Belle Isle straightaway. Irvin made a tight Roostertail turn to regain a two-tail advantage. Leland's final-lap charge fell short and he settled for second behind Miss Renault's 100.210. Yarling gave the Reynolds' Wall fans another dousing on lap 2 as he nearly caught Johnson. Executone stalled on the next lap and Johnson restarted a lap later to finish fourth behind Yarling.

Exiting the shape-up turn of heat 2-A Hanauer cut to the outside right in front of Snyder who was aimed for lane 1. Hanauer had a small lead through the lower turn, increased it slightly on the Belle Isle straight then pulled to an insurmountable lead at the Roostertail turn, finishing with a speed of 115.713. Snyder charged for a couple of laps then laid back with a lock an second place and a spot in the final. Turner left the pits then sucked some valves and never completed a warm-up lap, a broken primer nozzle prevented Kropfeld from starting Miss Bud and Hall watched again.

The URC allowed Howard to try qualifying Pure D'lite again at the start of 2-B. Howard led Executone, the only other boat on the course at the one minute gun, to the lower turn, but Johnson got by at the exit pin. Howard caught up on the belie Isle straight and stayed close through the Roostertail turn when Johnson nearly hooked his boat. Howard's charge was for naught because he was black flagged at the end of the first lap. Johnson motored around the remaining four laps along at a leisurely 89.619 to qualify for the finals.

The consolation heat would send the fifth boat to the final heat, and Earle Hall left no doubt who that would be. He took a deep run at the outside lane at the start and had a commanding lead at the first turn. Leland was second until Irvin passed him on the back stretch. With Squire running strong, Hall's lead increased with each lap and averaged a strong 106.800. Renault's Allison began smoking in the third lap and Irvin quit racing after lap 4 and returned to the pits. Speedy stalled on lap 4, which gave Yarling second place but no final heat for the first time this year.

During the final heat warm-up period, Hanauer and Kropfeld circled and circled on the infield then picked up the field as it approached the Detroit Yacht Club. Johnson had lane 1 so Hanauer grabbed lane 2. Kropfeld went deep into the shape-up turn but Snyder and Hall were deeper, so he was stuck with lane 3 and early. Hanauer backed off, then punched it and easily passed Johnson to lead Kropfeld by several tails into the Belle Isle turn. Hanauer's lead increased on the backstretch and Hall, who may have had the best start, challenged for second. Kropfeld pulled away slightly through the Roostertail turn, but by then everyone realized that he had jumped and that Hanauer was on his way to a 110.164 clocking. Squire's Merlin threw a rod and sawed the crankcase in half along the Belle Isle Beach on lap 2, and a faulty wire in Budweiser's master switch finally separated and shut everything down in lap 4, so Snyder earned a much needed second place check. Johnson was third.

On the trophy stand after the race Hanauer was cordial as ever. He answered fans' questions, individually introduced and complimented the crew, and shook off a bumping incident he and Snyder had before the race. He was so happy with the win that he didn't even mention the water.

Fast Group (A) Heat 1 Heat 2 Consolation Final
Atlas Van Lines 2-300 1-400 1-400/1100
Miss Rich Plan 3-225 2-300 2-300/ 825
Miss Budweiser 1-400 DNS DNF / 400
Richard Buick Special 4-169 DNS DNS - / 169
Squire Shop DNS DNS 1st DNF / 0
Slow Group (B)        
Executone 4- 85 1-200 3-225/ 510
Miss Renault 1-200 DNS DNF - / 200
Asp Centers 2-150 DNS DNF - / 150
Miss Tosti Asti 3-113 DNS 2nd - / 113


(Reprinted from the Unlimited NewsJournal, July 1983)