Friday, July 31, 2015

Seafair's Nemesis - Once known as the Atomic Cup Celebrates Unlimiteds History in 2015

The late, great Dean Chenoweth at the controls of the U-12 Miss Budweiser in 1982. (Image source:
While arguably Seattle's Seafair dwarfs its other side's Hydroplane race in the Tri Cities, nonetheless, the Gold Cup still remains the sport's most prized trophy...

Over one-half century ago during a time when Unlimited Hydroplane racing ruled the roost as the Top sporting event in the Pacific Northwest, most notably Seattle; before any of its current day "Stick & Ball" Professional Sporting Franchises, i.e.; Seattle Supersonics, Sounders, Seahawks, Mariners or the Storm existed, a different type 'O sport introduced the nation to what was then fondly known as the "Jet City" upon wresting control of the Unlimited Hydroplane's prestigious Gold Cup away from its then predominant home of Detroit.

The Gold Cup was first awarded in 1904 as the American Power Boat Association's (APBA)  Challenge Cup - shortly thereafter reverting to its current nom de plume, aka the Gold Cup.

The race was first held in Detroit in 1916, which had been preceded by legendary boat builder Christopher Columbus Smith of Chris-Craft fame being the first to break the 60mph barrier.

Shortly thereafter the legendous' Gar Wood obliterated  the competition en route to five successive Gold Cup victories between 1917-21 before the rules were changed to stop Wood's stranglehold!

After World War II, along with its surplus of Allison and Rolls royce aircraft engines - plus the revolutionary design work of Ted Jones and company, a unique craft prowled the shores of Lake Washington and beyond flying the flag for the Seattle Yacht Club.

Simply known as Slo Mo, boat owner Stan Sayres went to Detroit and shocked the boating world when his revolutionary Unlimited Hydroplane, the Slo Motion IV, the first to capitalize upon the three point design of skimming along the surface on its sponsons with Ted Jones at the controls captured the 1950 Gold Cup. Seeing Sayres take the Unlimiteds "super Bowl" trophy back to Seattle, which would become its status symbol the next several years pre Professional Sports.

As I'm not really sure why I'd never made the connection before, having read previously the name Fageol when penning my monstrous Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials Saga tome...

As I marveled over the oddity of the double Offenhauser engine vehicle starting second in the 1946 Indianapolis 500 named the Fageol Twin Coach Special with Paul Russo at the controls, but that's another story for a different day.

Yet, it seems like I should have made the connection, especially after hearing No Fenders "Papa Bear" Tomas Sr. marvel over Miss Slo Motion for years now.

Shuhzamm! Whilst I'm supposed to be reading Donald Davidson's Autocorse Official History of the Indianapolis 500, instead I'm scribblin' once again about a different subject...

Cutting to the chase, Sayres had a new & improved Slo Mo V built the next year for which Lou Fageol thoroughly decimated the Gold Cup competition, the first of his two outright victories, whilst relief driving in a third. Since the race was now being run on Lake Washington for the very first time ever.

Stan Sayres, along with various drivers including the aforementioned Fageol would win the prestigious Gold Cup five years in-a-row, (1950-54) tying Gar Woods record before Fageol flipped the Miss Slo  Motion V in 1955 on Lake Washington in the first ever barrel-roll by a Hydroplane! And although Fageol survived, he'd never race again!

Until 1963, the Gold Cup was held at the defending winner's home circuit and since has been held mostly in Detroit, its spiritual home, albeit both Tri Cities and the Seattle Seafair race have been included numerous times with the likes of legendary pilots Bill Muncey, Dean Chenoweth, Chip Hanauer and Dave Villwock to name just a few. Not to mention boats named Miss Budweiser, Atlas Van Lines, Miss Bardahl, Miss Thriftway, the Hawaii Kai III and Miss Century 21 all capturing the cup.

In 1966 the very first race known as the Atomic Cup was held in Tri Cities, Washington on the "Mighty Columbia" (River) in deference to the bright lights  of its Hanford Nuclear Reservation, with the cup lasting 'til 1972.

For '73 the race in Eastern Washington was the home of the APBA Gold Cup, the first of its three bi-yearly hosting's, i.e. 1973-75-77. In-between the race took turns being the APBA World Championship in 1974 before becoming christened the Columbia Cup in '76.

Two years later the race reverted back to permanently being known as the Columbia Cup thru 1983.

Next, from the early 1980's to the new millennium, (1984-2005) the event became simply known as the Budweiser Columbia Cup, albeit in 2006 the Atomic cup moniker returned one final time. Perhaps in a nod to the races fortieth anniversary?

Nah, Me Thinks it was due to Budweiser pulling its two-decades sponsorship as organizers scrambled for a title sponsor replacement.

Meanwhile, as noted by the three previous races in the Tri Cities, from 1963 to 1990 the Gold Cup rotated locations before becoming a permanent fixture in Detroit, although the race looked set to end its century-plus connection with Detroit this year after the Detroit River Regatta Association (DRRA) ceased operations this past February 28th after  having run a deficit for years.

Hence, the storied Gold Cup race was transferred to Pasco, Washington's Water Follies festival celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year - becoming this year's HAPO Gold Cup event, having just taken place last weekend (July 24-26) and becoming the golden cup's new home for the time being, since naturally H1 Unlimited, the sanctioning body wouldn't wish to have its Super Bowl event missing from the calendar! While thankfully, wiser heads have prevailed in the "Motor City" and Detroit's race has been saved.

Although it's great news that the Detroit race has been rescued and now will take place Aug 22-23, nevertheless, the H1 Unlimiteds schedule seems tenuous at best, with possibly Detroit being the season finale - when I began scribbling this.

Yet the official 2015 schedule currently lists five races: Madison, Tri Cities, Seattle, Detroit  and San Diego appear to be the only likely events this year. As it would be somewhat appropriate to finish the season this September with the Bill Muncey Cup stateside after all...

Alas, in typical fashion, Y'all don't have a boat race unless you've got two great combatants jousting to be supreme. As a quick scroll thru the roll call of Gold Cup winners denotes the likes of Billy Schumacher, George, NOT Don  Henley, Dean Chenoweth, Tom D'Eath all being winners.

As fabled Blue Blaster chauffer Bill Muncey became the first to eclipse Gar Wood's record of five victories, with Muncie going to his grave having won the trophy a then record eight times!

Next, Muncey's protégé, the young Seattleite Chip Hanauer, who appropriately replace his mentor in the Atlas Van Lines reeled off a record seven 'W's in-a-row from 1982-88 before later retiring from driving with an unheard of eleven Gold Cup victories and one less career victory overall than then record holder Muncey's 62. As Hanauer currently ranks as the sport's third winningest driver ever with 61-victories.

 Yet, to put Hanauer's accomplishment into comparison, think of how multi-times National High Points Champion Steve David has the dubious honour of finishing runner-up twelve times while never being able to "Close-the-Deal" at the Gold Cup!

As the recently retired "Boat Jockey" (Steve David) stands as a mere sixth in all-time Unlimited victories, with 18, behind the Top-3 drivers along with the deceased Budweiser greats Chenoweth; 25-wins and Jim Kropfeld's 22-wins respectively

A third name next came to prominence during the late 1990's thru  the 2000's, when now the sport's winningest driver ever, Dave Villwock captured ten Gold Cups mostly in the iconic Beer Wagon simply referred  to as "The Bud," aka Miss Budweiser and later the Spirit of Qatar - surpassing the late Bill Muncey's career win tally in 2011 and currently sitting on 67-career wins.

As although I don't think I've heard an official re-retirement from the sport, Villwock seems to have disappeared from the cockpit - most likely hanging up his helmet for good? Along with Steve David, and now the Gold Cup as well as the contenders for the throne of H1 Unlimiteds' next dynasty falls upon the shoulders of Jimmy Shane, Jean Theoret and J. Michael Kelly, with the Oh Boy Oberto, Ellstrom Elam Plus and the Graham Trucking teams all vying for their turn in history!

For the conclusion of this epic two part Seafair tome, see; SEAFAIR 2015: Famous Names from the Golden Ages of Powerboat Racing and Beyond weave Roostertails in Seattle

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Move over Formula 1, its Roundy-round time on Our Network!

Ah, the tranquility of getting to watch; Err listen to another Formula 1 Broadcast; Uhm? Where'd I-T go, eh?

So, a large part  of me wanted to give "Peacock-lite," nee NBC Sports Network a "You're Number One!" 'Fast Eddie (Carpenter) salute this past weekend, or even more appropriate a Will  Power Double Byrd salute in regards to some FREAKIN' pain in thy ARSE "Taxicabs" race from Mother Speedway trumping F1!

As really NBCSN? Like why isn't the Brickyard 400 on the B-I-G' Network channel? As that's pretty rich that first some two-wheels bicycling marathon from France and then Red Bull's Global Rally Cross is taking precedence Thar!

As F1's getting the Red Hair Step 'Seester treatment - with just a single lowly 4-FRILLIN' DARK-30 AM airing  upon CNBC. As I cannot even discern a single replay; WTF! And I thought it was the pinnacle 'O motorsports, eh? Uhm, that must be why NBCSN is trimming one half hour off of their riveting Friday Qualie' replay, right?

As do NOT want to hear one FREAKIN' word 'bout F1 television ratings being dismal Stateside when you dump them off to a third rate channel in order to host Rally Cross and 'RASSCAR instead, although surely Y'all can watch it live  on your smart devices, right?

GADS! Never thought those good 'Ol SPEED Dazes would have been so simple, when they had broadcast "equity" with F1 replays every Tuesday morning after a Grand Prix weekend at 9:30AM! (Pacific) Ro-Ro, am I being too critical towards F1? As good thingy' they DON'T have NO STINKIN' GAG ORDERS!

Especially since this FUCKING STUPENDOUS Rule made my blood Boil over when first hearing it NO less then on the very day that Formula 1 was grieving the death of Jules Bianchi in Nice at his Funeral!

As why do I feel like Mark Miles needs to breathe into a paper bag? Or is that also being too critical? Uhm, may be I shouldn't say any more, since I'm already pushing the boundries by noting;

F1: Budapest and Mid-season thoughts...

Can it already be time for Formula 1's annual summer break - which surely All of the F1 Mechanics are looking forward to..

Bloody Hell! I've finally gotten to watch; Err listen to another Formula 1 race for the first time since Barcelona! As the Spanish GP seems a long, long time ago - which I actually arose for, listened to thy Talking Heads beginning at Oh DARK-30! Uh, 4:30AM Pacific, plus the race's first twenty-plus minutes before simply being too knackered and going back to bed.

Being totally akin to "Louise 'JAGUAR" Hamilton's quip 'bout when he was a 'Wee lad and would watch the starts, go back to sleep and wake-up at the end for another Schumacher victory! As now all we need to do is replace Schuey's name with Hamilton...

Yet little did I know that my TV would "DONE BLOWN U-P!" The night before departing for Indianapolis and  hence, the television "Blackout" all these following months - having finally procured a spiffy new Telescreen the night of the Fontana IndyCar race; but I digress...

Yet during this self imposed Telie Blackout, whilst reading the  daily pundits reports on Zed Internetz, it just seems to Mwah that F1's leadership(?) with ultimately the money grubbing Capitalists at CVC pulling thy strings. While Uncle Bernaughty flaps his wings, Jean Todt hides behind  his desk and the STUPENDOUS Strategy Group throws darts wildly about... I distinctly feel like they're A-L-L just grasping at straws while hoping not to pull the short one.

And with The Lewis & Nico Show still going strong, as the Box Score shows that Rosberg's won three races from Barcelona to Silverstone vs. Hamilton having won just two Pre-Hungary; where I left off of this season 'Wayback on Mums' Day. Nevertheless, Lewis is firmly in command of the championship on the back of his five-wins to NIco's three.

Alas, although I'm NOT holding my breath! Hopefully Budapest can throw a spanner in the Silver Arrows Duo - as it'd be Uber enjoyable to see one of Team Willy's boyz win, or HELL! Even Seb Vettel; GASP! Or even better yet one of the much maligned Red Bulls. Although my Numero Uno F1 pilote' Valtteri Bottas was all the rage pre-Hungaroring, and it would only be fitting to see him hoist his first Grand Prix winner's trophy there.

And with all of the speculation on who'll go where, etc. I'm surprised nobody's gesticulated 'bout thy "Iceman," nee 'Kimster, aka Kimi Raikkonen going to Haas? I mean what better exposure could you get besides that? As they're reputedly a Semi-works Ferrari 'B-Team.

Although I still think Esteban Gutierrez is a better fit for one of the seats, i.e.; Double Dipping marketing exposure from Mexico and America. As thee "Incredible Hulkster" (Nico Hulkenberg) and Gutierrez would make a formable pairing, albeit that would leave American F1 hopeful Alexander Rossi who was second in the points, 65 adrift of this year's runaway GP2 leader Stoffel Vandoorne prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend. Once again on the outside looking in.

Or if you're Hulkenberg which is better? A customer Mercedes or Ferrari lump? And Kimi, the sport's current most favourite F1 driver could surely give Rossi a pointer or two, as Alexander's team leader, but hey, that's why they call it Silly Season, right?

Obviously, A-L-L of the Driver Market fuss was prior to the news of Jules Bianchi's death, which was first reported late Friday evening, the week prior to the Hungarian GP...

Alas, whilst its somewhat funny, as the other nine F1 Constructors seemingly quibble for table scraps, albeit the multi-millions in Sterling Pounds Constructors prize fund awarding AIN'T exactly anythingy' to sneeze at! Yet the Silver Arrows just serenely go on their way pummeling the opposition, as The Lewis & Nico Show juggernaught whistles away countless "Klicks" (Kilometers) en route to another 1-2 finish; YAWN!

You're getting very sleepy, sleepy; Hya!

As it's a virtual Whitewash; Ahem Sir Frank and your predominantly white paint scheme; Hooah! As seriously, Mercedes had won eight-of-nine races Pre-Hungaroring, with Sebastian Vettel's lone victory for la Scuderia (Ferrari) at Malaysia upsetting the German team's Apple Strudel; Err Kart, Ja Volt!

As Lewis Hamilton  has completely obliterated the competition - along with his teammate, having racked up nine Poles in the first ten races, i.e.; Hungary, where he seemingly made Rosberg squirm in the Post-qualifying interviews! As Hamilton passed Vettel for third most ever Pole positions in Formula 1 fittingly at his home circuit, nee Silverstone, before notching his 47th Pole to date at the Hungaroring. Only 21-shy of All-time leader Michael Schumacher's 68 and his Hero Ayrton Senna's 65!

But Williams remains strongly on the upswing, excluding high downforce circuits a la Hungary, Monaco - showing well with its current third place overall in the F1 Constructors standings - as I doubt they'll overtake Ferrari, unless Raikkonen completely packs it in?

Or more likely his car keeps failing him!

And what can I say about the once mighty McLaren? Other than Honda's come up against a much more formable task in the new Power Unit era then its past "Glory Years," a la the once mighty Renault - for which Chris Horner, Helmut Marco and "Deeter Majestik" have taken great Glee in kicking about! As Grizzled Journo' Joe Saward points out the obvious, noting how the days of customer (Cosworth DFV V-8) engine teams winning championships in Formula 1 are long gone!

What an absolutely wonderful weekend 'O racing from the previously known "Hunga-boring!" Which was anything but that, first marveling over a most enjoyable GP2 Feature race on thy Telie, the first I've seen A-L-L season long. Where Team Willy' Development driver Alex Lynn scored his maiden Feature race 'W ahead of Dams team-mate Pierre Gasly, with the exalted Stoffel Vandoorne finishing fifth after an unsafe Pit-stop release netted the Belgian a five second time penalty. As Sergey Sirotkin took the podium's final step with unknown of Indonesian Rio Haryanto sandwiched between S-Squared' (Sirotkin) and Vandoorne.

Although not overly enthralled with getting up at 4:30AM! What an absolutely Wild, Wacky and Wonderful race the B-I-G' BOYZ, aka Formula 1 put on! As I won't try recapping the race blow for blow, as I'll let the Heavy Lifting be done by the "Professionals" race report...

First of all, Yuhs gotta feel for thee 'Iceman, nee Kimi Raikkonen who appeared to have a second place finish in-the-bag, only to see his Kinetic Energy Generator unit (MKGU) QUIT working, and leaving him a sitting duck with a loss of 100bhp or more!

And when would you think that the Talking Heads would A-L-L be in a lather over both McLaren's finishing in the points. Or WOW! Fernando Alonso finished fifth - McLaren-Honda's best season result to date! As  I'm afraid this won't last once we get back to racing on "Horsepower" circuits, nee Spa and Monza for starters.

And the P12-13 place finishes of Williams is certainly not representative of their true performance this year, nor is the Red Bull's double podium finish. Whilst Max "Dutch boy" Verstappen's career best-to-date fourth place finish despite a drive-thru penalty is very impressive, as he's easily my F1 Rookie Of the Year so far!

Meanwhile, "Professor" Steve Matchett's Post-race Quip 'bout Nico Rosberg just wanting the interview to be over were priceless, as I was laughing-out-loud too loudly to remember exactly what he said; Hum, something 'bout body language and Nico rolling his eyes?

As Nico came off to Mwah as a totally petulant, childish bore, whom as thy 'Wee "Willie Buxom" (Will Buxton) eluded to, was chasing his tail A-L-L weekend long! While I thought thee young "Louise 'JAGUAR" Hamilton, which ties in nicely with the reported lion's head tattoo he got on his chest recently! Seemed pretty serene publicly about "His Bad Day at the Office." As he  seemed to be totally taking his driving errors on the chin - not bemoaning how he didn't know what's wrong a la  Rosberg.

And while I've begrudgingly come to the fact that Hamilton's simply the best driver on the grid, I'd have to say that perhaps Seb' Vettel is more ruthless and the only driver who currently can match Lewis's performance. As I'd say the "Smiling Assassin" is definitely back! And it'll be impressive if la Scuderia can ever match the Silver Arrows performance to watch these two go Mano e Mano!

Especially since it was Vettel tying the legendous' Ayrton Senna's career win tally first today in Hungary, as Sebastian notched his 41st Grand Prix victory and seemingly is just getting warmed-up!

As sadly, Me Thinks "Fredrico Suave's" (Fred Alonso) days at the front of the grid are numbered, if not gone? As how many years can the "Raging Bull" toll away behind the wheel of a recalcitrant McLaren? And can Honda, along with Renault get back in to thy thick 'O things? As that was one race definitely worth getting up for!