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 August.
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…