1994 Exide Nautilus Battery APBA Gold Cup

1994 APBA Gold Cup

By Shav Glick

DETROIT--The garish purple and yellow Smokin' Joe's Unlimited hydroplane, with hometown driver Mark Tate in the cockpit, won the APBA Gold Cup on the Detroit River on Sunday in a race without nine-time champion Chip Hanauer.

With an estimated 350,000 spectators lining the shores of Belle Isle and downtown Detroit, Tate had a perfect day in the Steve Woomer-owned boat, which is powered by a Lycoming helicopter turbine engine. He swept four heats and the five-lap Gold Cup.

Hanauer suffered fractures of the lower back and groin injuries in an accident Saturday when the escape hatch blew open on the bottom of the Miss Budweiser boat at 130 m.p.h. and water slammed into the cockpit.

"It felt like someone hit me in the back with a sledge hammer," Hanauer said Sunday after being released from the hospital. It was similar to an accident that occurred last year shortly after Hanauer had won a race in Madison, Ind.

"This was much worse than Madison, " Hanauer said. At that time, he said it felt like getting a 150 m.p.h. kick in the groin.

"It's a shame Chip wasn't out there because he's a legend in our sport and I enjoy racing against him, but in no way does his not being there taint our win," Tate said. "I've been coming to the Detroit River since I was a kid growing up and watching Bill Cantrell and later Bill Muncey drive in the Gold Cup, so it means a lot to me to win here."

Tate, who set the Detroit River qualifying record of 170.087 m.p.h. last year, averaged 145.260 for the 12.5-mile Gold Cup and also had the fastest lap of 151.280.

It was Tate's second Gold Cup victory--both without Hanauer in the race. Tate won in 1991 for Woomer in the same boat when it was the Winston Eagle, a year in which Hanauer sat out the season.

Nate Brown, who was Tate's crew chief in 1991, finished second in The Tide. It was the fifth consecutive year the boat had finished second in the Gold Cup.

Miss Budweiser, with Mike Hanson substituting for Hanauer, was credited with third place after Miss Exide was docked a lap for cutting off PICO American Dream in the first turn.

PICO American Dream, driven by Dave Villwock, was expected to be Smokin' Joe's toughest competition in the finals, but the boat was swamped when it was cut off.

Hanauer, who returned to the river in time to coach Hanson, is not expected to race Sunday in the Texas Hydrofest in Lewisville, Tex., but hopes to be healed in time for the June 26 Pontiac Thunder on the Ohio in Evansville, Ind.

"Right now, it's hard to imagine getting in the boat, but hopefully I'll feel good enough in a couple of weeks," Hanauer said. He is the defending series champion and has won the national championship seven times.

(Reprinted from the Los Angeles Times, June 6, 1994)