1988 Miller High Life Thunderboat Regatta

Thunderboats return to Mission Bay soon

Two years ago, unlimited hydroplane star Chip Hanauer next thought he would be glad to return to San Diego's Mission Bay.

Due to the salt water which caused his Miller High Life boat to fail to finish a heat in the 1986 event, Hanauer saw a great season (five wins) go down the drain as he lost the national championship.

But, for the 34-year-old college graduate from Seattle, Wash., he went from the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory in one year after capturing his sixth consecutive "Gold Cup" and setting a world speed record in last September's Miller High Life Thunderboat Regatta.

Now, with a seventh "Gold Cup" on his mantel, Hanauer returns to that "rollercoaster" site Sept. 16-18 in an effort to repeat his 1987 performance rather than the 1986 disaster.

"I never thought I'd say I'm glad we're coming back to San Diego after two years ago," said Hanauer, winner of two events in 1988, including the "Gold Cup" at Evansville, Ind. "That year was so disappointing. But, after last year's win and record qualifying run, I'm excited to be back at Mission Bay."

Last year's Regatta saw Hanauer rewrite the record books twice.

By winning a sixth "Gold Cup," Hanauer displaced Gar Wood for the most consecutive APBA Gold Cup wins. Wood won five straight Cups from 1917 to 1921. And Hanauer also set a new world speed record for unlimited boats at 155.979 miles per hour in qualifying.

"The salt water had caused compressor stall with the turbine in 1986," said Hanauer. "A friend. Derrick Rogers, who is an employee of Boeing, helped us last year by designing an air intake system for the engine. Plus, the addition of Stewart and Stevenson (engine specialists) enabled us to beat the salt water problem."

For this year's race, Hanauer and the Miller team have made another change.

"We've decided to return to our newer boat for San Diego," Hanauer explained. "Last year, we went to our older hull before San Diego and it paid off. Now, we've taken the best aspects of the old boat and combined them with the new hull. I think we're ready to get back on the winning track."

Hanauer's new mount is a familiar one, though. He piloted the hull to his seventh "Gold Cup" title as the Miss Circus Circus.

Both the Miller High Life and the Miss Circus Circus, with John Prevost driving, are campaigned out of La Mesa resident Fran Muncey's unlimited hydroplane operation in Seattle.

"The season hasn't gone like we would have wanted," Hanauer commented, "but we are coming back to the two events we won a year ago (San Diego and Las Vegas, Sept. 25). And that's optimistic."

Qualifying begins Friday, Sept. 16, with the Miller High Life Regatta set for 12 noon Sunday, Sept. 18.

(Reprinted from the Chula Vista Star News, September 11, 1988)