As that’s some pretty legendous’ company He’s
closing in upon…
While I realize it’s definitely akin to comparing
“Apples to Oranges,” and Arse-sumedly only the most Diehard Racing Aficionados
will be aware of this. Since it took your Humble No Fenders Scribe a fair amount
‘O Digging! Nevertheless, Scotty thee Iceman 2.0’ Dixon’s surpassing of
SuperMario’, nee Mario Andretti for second most career IndyCar victories made
me think of this, since Ye Blogosphere’s been Chock O’Block Full of Dissecting Mario,
Scott and will Powers accomplishments. Whilst the “Fastest boats on H-2-O” have
been on my mind Ah-lately, following the return of Seattle’s Seafair this
As I’m still sorta pinching myself over a
conversation I had a few months ago now at our local El Mexicano restaunte here
in Bumfiddle Florence! I sat at the far end of our table next to Carol, a super
nice lady who told me She’d lived in San Diego for 31 years.
So I casually told Her about having gone to the
Del Mar Fairgrounds once a Zillion years ago for an IMSA GTP Sports Car race,
and Seaworld to “See” Shamu!
As I still recall that “Mean Jean” Alesi was
driving a shiny red Ferrari F40, which I believe was appropriately sporting the
number 40! And that “Gentleman John” Andretti was part of the Miller High Life
Porsche 962 driving roster. Whilst I was Rootin’ primarily for the Bud Light Jaguars…
And then I casually mentioned the Hydroplane
race at Mission Bay, to which Carol told me that once they Had to make a run
for it when Chip Hanauer’s Hydro’ Flipped onto the Beach! Presumably during His
Miss Budweiser years?
Then for the Kicker’, Carol told me their next
door neighbor was the (Unlimited) Driver who Died in Mexico City, to which I
immediately said Bill Muncey, OMG! Like He was only the Sport’s Biggest legend
ever! Said they were social, but didn’t see much of them, and She heard His wife
Fran owned a resort at Lake Tahoe… As Who’d Ah-Thunk It? That I’d be sitting in
a local Mexican restaurant in Bumbfiddle Florence talking about Unlimited Hydroplanes
and two of the Sports most legendous’ Drivers, i.e.; chip Hanaure and Bill Muncey
with somebody I’d never met before, Ariva Ariva Ariva!
Dave Villwock is the H1 Unlimited Hydroplanes
All-time winner with 67 career victories prior to this year’s San Diego season
finale. Whilst the Dom or Godfather of Unlimited Hydroplanes, the legendous’ Bill
Muncey won 62 times in His career before His Death at Acapulco in 1981. With His
“Apprentice” Chip Hanauer being the Sports third winningest driver with 61
victories. Before you drop down to the late Dean Chenoweth who scored 25 APBA
Unlimited victories, fourth most in Unlimited History.
As it’s Hard to believe that it’s almost a Half
Century ago as a Wee lad’, I was crushed by my All-time favourite Unlimited
Hydroplane driver losing to His Arch Nemesis on Lake Washington during the 1973
UIM World Championship! Since although that Donnybrook of a race is still
indelibly etched into my memory banks. I simply chose the Miss Budweiser since
Tomas Sr. was a Died in the Wool Pay ‘N Pak man. Thus presumably I didn’t even
know who Dean Chenoweth was that unsuccessful day? Since I lost the Bet with my
Pops’ and Had to wash the family car, Sigh!
Yet Chenoweth was simply another of His
Bombastic Owner Bernie Little’s shrewd choices as Miss Budweiser Skippers’,
since Bernie was the Al Davis of Unlimited Hydroplane Owners! And I’d say that
Bernie coined the phrase “I like Winners!” Way before we’d be Hearing Chip
Ganassi say it…
Dean cut His teeth racing inboards and amassed
some 70 Odd wins along with three “Junior” Inboards Championships before moving
up the ladder enroute to winning more titles before making His Unlimited debut
in 1968. With Chenoweth at the tiller of the “radical” Lead Sled Miss Smirnoff,
who’s Boss Joe Schoenith was another Colourful Owner! Being the first Unlimited
Hydroplane employing the now long, de riggour Picklefork front nose design.
Dean scored His first two Unlimited victories
the following year at the Indiana’s Governors Cup and the Tri-Cities Atomic Cup
before resigning at season’s end.
Thus Dean got His ultimate break upon replacing
the Bud’s retiring Bill Sterett for 1970, and the rest as they say, is History!
As Chenoweth would claim four wins including
His first APBA Gold Cup victory and National High Points Championship that
season. In a career that would span twelve years driving for Little, resulting
in claiming four APBA Gold cup victories and four National High Points
Championships. Along with amassing a total of 25 Unlimited Hydroplane wins.
And although I didn’t know it Wayback nearly some
50 years ago, Chenoweth’s Miss Budweiser was the former Pride of Pay ‘N Pak,
albeit three years older and 1,000lbs Heavier! Versus the current Pak with
future Bud chauffeur Mickey Remund at it’s controls.
As it was a typical Gloomy Seattle day, Grey
Clouds dispersing Mist and more of that Wet Stuff while these two drivers put
on the show of the Century! Since although Remund got the Jump on Chenoweth with
the preferred inside lane, these two fierce competitors went Deck to Deck for
the entire five laps on the three mile “International” course with Remund
holding off Chenoweth by a mere 25-feet!
But it was Chenoweth getting the best of the
Pak after Remund’s Hydroplane threw a propeller blade during that year’s Gold
Cup at Tri-cities, along with Dean winning His second National High Points
Championship before being forced into retirement.
Yet it was the successive Miss Budweiser Hulls
simply known as the Juggernaut! The mighty Rolls Royce Griffons Beerwagon with “Dynamo
Dean” at it’s controls beginning in 1979 that cemented Chenoweth being my
All-time Numero Uno Driver! As Dean, who’d been wooed out of retirement after
five years wasn’t even phased after a wicked Blowover on Lake Washington when
attempting a World Speed record and traveling above some 215mph!
As the Bud was untouchable between 1980-1982 with
Dynamo Dean at it’s controls. Winning Back to Back APBA Gold cups and National
High Points Championships, including six of eight races in 1981 before his
untimely Death in 1982.
As Chenoweth wasn’t able to “Walk Away” this
time from another Nasty Blow Over at the Tri-Cities Columbia Cup on July 31,
1982. And perished at the Age of 44 on the Mighty Columbia.
Ironically exactly 40 years later this past
July, Jimmy Shane at the tiller of the Miss Home Street won His twenty-second H1
Unlimited Hydroplane race at the Tri-Cities HAPO Columbia cup. As remember the
number 22 Y’all.
As “Seattle’s” (Kent, WA) Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum’s website has a Great article on Dean Chenoweth with multiple photos you can check out by searching their site for The Dean Chenoweth Story…