1984 Miller High Life Thunderboat Regatta

Miss Bud Wraps Up Season

Unlimited hydroplane driver Jim Kropfeld piloted Miss Budweiser to victory in the final of the Miller High Life San Diego regatta, clinching his first national championship and the seventh for boat owner Bernie Little.

Kropfeld guided the thunderboat through the 2½-mile course on Mission Bay at an average speed of 114.125 mph during a second championship heat, run after the first heat was halted by a controversial safety hazard.

The victory raised Kropfeld’s points total to 8,000, putting him out of reach of his closest pursuer, Mickey Remund’s The Squire Shop, with two races left in the 10-race season.

In seven previous races, Kropfeld had four wins and a second.

Officials canceled the first heat shortly after the race began after Atlas Van Lines’ turbine exploded, sending metal parts through the boat’s hull. Driver Chip Hanauer jumped overboard, which calls for an automatic halt to the race.

Hanauer was not in danger, but jumped in the water to alert the patrol boat that his hydroplane was sinking.

"Jumping in the water like that was the act of a low-life scum,” said Kropfeld, who was leading the five-lap race by nearly a mile. “That’s twice in a year he’s (Hanauer) done that to me. He did it last year and won at Houston. He jumped in the water to stop the heat, not to save himself.”

Said Hanauer: “Kropfeld is not responsible for the Atlas Van Lines.

There was no way I was going to let my boat get submerged in saltwater and destroy the engine and honeycomb aluminum body frame.”

The Bob Patterson Special, with Ron Armstrong driving, was second, averaging 111.559 mph, while and Todd Yarling and the Spirit of Detroit (109.438 mph) took third.

(Reprinted from the Louisville Courier-Journal, September 17, 1984)