1986 Budweiser Thunder On The Ohio

Hanauer’s 132.499 tops five Evansville qualifiers

By Joyce A. Venezia, Associated Press

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Five of nine unlimited hydroplane boats qualified yesterday for Sunday’s Thunder on the Ohio while drivers of the other four worked out last-minute kinks.

The fastest run went to Chip Hanauer in the Miller American turbine. Hanauer qualified in the morning at 111.077 miles per hour but raced again late in the day to top it at 132.499 mph.

Hanauer said that speed was actually less than what he ran.

"The buoys had run way down river" because of breezes that picked up in the late afternoon, he said. "To make sure we had it official, I ran around all of them, so it would have been a lot faster speed."

Until Hanauer decided to place his boat back in the Ohio River with only 15 minutes left in qualifying, Steve Reynolds of the Miss 7-Eleven turbine team was the fastest qualifier at 130.364 mph.

Hanauer said he needed to test the boat again to work out some vibrations he felt in the morning run.

"We really had some steering problems last week in Madison," he said. "We changed the mechanism, but we still had a little problem on the first run today. We didn’t have it the second time around."

The third turbine entered, Miss Budweiser, qualified at 115.200 mph, but not without problems that forced the crew to scramble for Sunday's race.

"It’s the gear box," said driver Jim Kropfeld, the leader in the season’s points standings. "There may be a shop locally that may have the parts we need, or we may have to go to Detroit."

The boat remained out of the water all afternoon, "and we may not even run it tomorrow," Kropfeld said.

Also qualifying were the Miss Madison, piloted by Ron Snyder at 111.715 mph, and the Risley Express, with Todd Yarling in the driver’s seat, at 107.946 mph.

The Risley Express also experienced problems, however, and the crew spent the afternoon trying to keep the engine from sputtering during practice laps.

"All we wanted to do today was get in the show," Yarling said. "Now we can pick it up for race day. It’s not quite right yet, but we’ll get it straightened out."

Oh Boy! Oberto, driven by George Johnson, ran several laps but did not break the 105-mph minimum speed required to qualify for Sunday’s race. The crew spent much of the day working on a fuel-line problem and giving the boat an occasional test lap.

A local entry, the Miss Liberty, also got into the water in the morning — her first race in Evansville — but did not finish the lap. Driver Jack Schafer and his crew concentrated on a carburetion problem.

The Thor Racing Team worked all day on its turbo-charged engine. Driver Jerry Hopp took the boat out for several warm-up laps before the course closed, but did not attempt to qualify.

The Squire Shop team scrambled to find sponsors and arrived at midafternoon to set up, but the boat was never put in the water.

Crew chief Jim Harvey scrambled to get organized, saying, "We’ve just going to go ‘boom, boom, boom’ and get in the race."

"If we’re right up to snuff, we’ve got a shot at Sunday," said driver Tom D’Eath. "It’s time to get the helmet and jacket on and race."

(Reprinted from the Associated Press, July 12, 1986)