Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Things to consider when renting a boat on Lake CDACoeur d'Alene boat rentals page to find an extensive listing of local boat rental service providers.
Pontoon boats are surging in popularity on Lake Coeur d'Alene as manufacturers have incorporated enhanced design features that allow pontoon boaters to ski, tube, and get from point A to point B much faster than they would have on a pontoon twenty years ago. Pontoons on Lake CDA commonly range from 18' to 26' with 9 to 16 person capacity. Newer performance models may be equipped with 150 HP to 250 HP engines capable of 30 to 45+ MPH.
Runabouts are small to medium sized powerboats ranging from 16' to 24' and include models like ski boats, bow riders and cuddy boats. Capacity generally ranges from six to 11 persons, and these boats are often equipped with sufficient power for pull-behind sports like tubing and skiing. These boats are often a fun and affordable way to enjoy the lake however smaller models may not handle well in choppy waters caused by weather and boat traffic.
Wakeboard boats are highly specialized to create a huge wake and range from 21' to 24' with 8 to 16 person capacity. Many water sports boat manufacturers have developed systems to further enhance the shape of the wakes their boats create. These devices often help to lower the stern of the boat, which creates a larger wake and are very useful when wakesurfing as well. However, the quality and size of the wake is largely a function of the hull design and ballast weight of the boat (thank you Wikipedia).
Water safety, Rules, and Regulations - The best way to have fun on the lake is to be safe and follow the boating rules: Idaho Boating Laws and Handbook and Kootenai County Boating Rules.
Questions, comments or stories to share? Add your input below or share a post on the Lake Coeur d'Alene Facebook page. Thanks for reading and have a great summer!
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Where to stayThe southern end of the lake is peaceful and quiet with convenient access to the St. Joe and Coeur d'Alene rivers where you'll find unlimited outdoor recreation including the well-traveled Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.
Also on the southern shores is the city of Harrison, a charming and inviting lakeside community with a great public marina, good restaurants, and several lodging options to suit your needs. For more information about Harrison, visit the Harrison Chamber website.
On the north end of the lake discover fine dining, spas and boutique shopping in downtown Coeur d'Alene. For additional lodging options and travel information, please checkout coeurdalene.org and VisitIdaho.org.
Waterfront vacation rental homes are plentiful on Lake CDA, and there are a number of useful listing websites. The following links will take you directly to their listings of Lake CDA vacation rentals:
~ airbnb - TripAdvisor - VRBO ~
parks and recreation areas?
Stay fit - Kayak, bike and swim?
Be entertained - Listen to live music, try your luck at the Coeur d'Alene Casino, or check the CDA Visitor Bureau's calendar to see what's happening downtown.?
Go boating - There are plenty of boats available to rent.
Questions, comments or stories to share? Add your input below or share a post on the Lake Coeur d'Alene Facebook page. Thanks for reading and have a great summer!
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Additionally, the conclusion of summer brings with it a great opportunity to celebrate the changing of seasons and the long history of craft brewing at one of the local Oktoberfest events:
Upcoming local Oktoberfest Events:
September 26 & 27: Downtown Coeur d'Alene Oktoberfest (4-9pm Friday; 1-8pm Saturday)
October 4th: Harrison Oktoberfest (Saturday 1-7pm)
Need help get your water toys and classic cars ready for winter?
- Put it away clean with some help from Pat at Carney's Detailing. Give Pat a call to get quote for a full auto or marine detail, (208) 660-4507.
- Add a protective shrink wrap by Summer Snow Shrink Wraps. Call Jake (208) 964-3259.
- Full service and seasonal boat storage by Harrison Boat Storage.
Avista's annual Coeur d’Alene Lake drawdown
Full Avista Press Release: SPOKANE, Wash. Sept. 2, 2014
Avista is beginning its annual fall drawdown of Coeur d’Alene Lake Tuesday, Sept. 2. The lake will be gradually lowered approximately a foot from full pool by the end of September, and an additional 1½ feet per month thereafter until reaching its winter level. Property owners and boaters should take measures to secure docks and boats for the winter season during this period.
As part of Avista’s FERC license to operate its Spokane River Hydroelectric Project, which includes Post Falls Dam, Avista is required to maintain the level of Coeur d’Alene Lake at or near the summer full-pool elevation of 2,128 feet from as early as practical in the spring until the Tuesday after Labor Day.
The slow drawdown will increase flows in the Spokane River downstream of Post Falls, and will slightly decrease river levels between the lake and Post Falls’ Spokane Street Bridge. Spill gates at Post Falls Dam will not be opened for the drawdown, and the river should remain open for recreation until November; however, river users should be aware that water levels can fluctuate at any time depending upon weather and dam operations.
Customers can access waterflow information at avistautilities.com/waterflow or if you prefer the information is still available on our 24-hour telephone information line. You will find notification of anticipated elevation changes on Lake Spokane, the Spokane River and Coeur d’Alene Lake. In Washington call (509) 495-8043 and in Idaho call (208) 769-1357.
The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in the lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use.
About Avista Utilities ?Avista Utilities is involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy. We provide energy services and electricity to 365,000 customers and natural gas to 325,000 customers in a service territory that covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.5 million. Avista Utilities is an operating division of Avista Corp. (NYSE: AVA). For more information, please visit www.avistautilities.com.
Mary Tyrie, (509) 495-4470, email@example.com
Avista 24/7 Media Line 509-495-4174
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
By Don Heikkila
The Geological History
Glacial activity about 9,ooo to 15,000 years ago created Lake Coeur d’ Alene out of what previously had been the valley of a river. At the time ice sheets also occupied major valleys to the north. As the glaciers receded, melt waters as deep as nearly 100 feet at times flooded across the outlet of the river valley beyond the present city of Coeur d’ Alene from old Lake Missoula. Rock, sand and gravel blocked the old river channel. This backed up the river, submerged the valley, and produced one of the Pacific Northwest’s most magnificent lakes.
The lake is about 25-30 miles long, from one to three miles wide, as deep as 190-210 feet near Coeur d’ Alene to as shallow as 35-50 feet deep at the southern end from Harrison south. The St. Maries River enters into the St. Joe River at the city of St. Maries, and then the St. Joe enters the lake near Conkling Park. The Coeur d’ Alene River at Harrison also enters the lake. The Drainage into Lake Coeur d’ Alene is from approximately 37,000 square miles of land. The Spokane River at Coeur d’ Alene provides the outflow of the lake, which eventually empties into the Columbia River. The statistics quoted above vary somewhat, according to the sources.
The Coeur d’ Alene River is fed by Latour Creek, the Southfork of the Coeur d’ Alene River and Northfork of the Coeur d’ Alene River, which originates from the mountains near Murray and Pritchard . It travels some 37 miles down the valley past Rose Lake, Bull Run Lake, Killarney Lake, Medicine Lake, Cave Lake, Swan Lake, Black Lake, Blue Lake, Thompson Lake, and Anderson Lake before it enters Lake Coeur d’ Alene at Harrison. Access from the river to the lakes exists for smaller boats to all of the lakes except Rose and Bull Run. Navigation on the outlet river, the Spokane, continues to Post Falls where navigation is stopped by the Post Falls Dam.
Post Falls Dam
Lake level is controlled in part by the Post falls Dam, which was constructed in 1906. This dam most generally produces enough power for the city of Coeur d’ Alene. The elevation of the lake varies from 2128 feet to as much as 6 feet lower by the end of December to 2122 feet to allow for spring runoff. There is nearly 50 square miles of water surface, which contains about 2,260,000 acre feet of water and is officially classified as a Glacial Reservoir. Some historic levels of the lake are: 5/31/1894-2,137.60; 5/17/1917-2,135.90; 12/25/1933-2,139.05 (highest on record); 5/23/2008-2,134.78; 4/25/2009-2,129.41; 6/22/2010-2,128.18; 5/26/2011-2,132.49; 4/29/2012-2,133.24. It is interesting to note that higher levels have been maintained consecutively for the last five years.
Coeur d’ Alene
Fort Coeur d'Alene was established in 1878 and was later named Fort Sherman. The city of Coeur d'Alene developed east and north of the fort and within a few years had become the business center of the North lake. Coeur d'Alene's importance as Kootenai County's center was reinforced when voters moved the county seat to Coeur d'Alene in 1908. By 1910 the population was 8,000. Six large lumber mills were located in or near Coeur d'Alene, and the city boasted four banks, five hotels, nine churches, four grade schools and a high school, a movie theater, and two telephone systems. Four railroads served the city: the Northern Pacific, the Inland Empire Railroad electric line, the Milwaukee Road, and the Spokane International. No railroads serve the city now. Spokane residents talk about a light rail system, like the one the served both cities at the turn of the century. However, a bicycle trail follows much of the former route and is very popular.
Coeur d'Alene's major industries were timber, tourism and agriculture, and the timber industry today still has an impact on the economy with its facilities located in nearby communities, mostly to the north . By the early 1930s, Coeur d'Alene was Kootenai County's economic and social center. At one time the city served four major rail lines and boasted six major lumber mills, however the last mill was taken down a couple years ago. Today the city is a college town served by North Idaho College and satellite campuses for the University of Idaho and Lewis and Clark State College. It has a population of about 44,137 people and is the center of the tourist industry attracting visitors from around the world.
Gold and Silver Discovered
The Amelia Wheaton, first steamboat on the lake, was built by Fort Coeur d’ Alene under the supervision of Captain C.P. Sherman to provide access to the Coeur d’ Alene River Valley and the placer gold claims near Pritchard and Murray. Ruby El Hult, in her book, “Steamboats in the Timber” said that it was a stern-wheeler, eighty-five feet long, with a fourteen-foot beam, which cost $5000, was named after the daughter of Fort Commander General Wheaton, and was launched in the fall of 1880. Gold was discovered in Murray in the fall of 1881 by A.J. Prichard, and the discovery of silver near Kellogg later made the Silver Valley one of the largest silver mining areas in the nation. From this beginning the Silver Valley provided much wealth and development to the region and is credited as being an important source of critical metals used to win World War II. Although pollution from this mining activity created a considerable problem for some time, a Superfund cleanup during the last few decades has improved water quality and pollution considerably. Recreation in the Silver Valley has greatly improved, especially after the improvement of Jackass Ski area when its name was changed to Silver Mountain and the world’s longest Gondola was opened in 1990.
Steamboats on Lake Coeur d’ Alene
Ruby El Hult in her book, Steamboats in the Timber, claimed that, ‘In the heyday of its water commerce, Lake Coeur d’Alene was the scene of more steam boating than any other lake, salt or fresh, west of the Great Lakes. It was the little Lake Erie of the West; its rivers, miniature Mississippi’s of the West.’
The most important thing the steamboat era accomplished was to develop the area and promote it to the rest of the world as a place of great beauty. And the huge tourist industry that now exists owes its gratitude to the steamboat history that came before.
The natural resources of the St. Joe and Coeur d’ Alene River Valleys provided resource-based jobs to the new area. Homesteading in the region later provided incentive for many people to move to the area, requiring transportation, easily provided by steamboats. The Lake and River system was an easy water route from Coeur d’ Alene to as far as Cataldo on the Coeur d’ Alene River and St. Joe City on the St. Joe River, with many points in between. Here are the names of many of the boats that served to move people and goods to a growing population around the lake: Amelia Wheaton, Avondale, Belleville, Boneta, Bonnie Doone, Coeur d’ Alene, Clipper, Corwine, Colfax, Defender, formerly Laura Lyons, Dolphin, Echo, Elk, Fleetwood, Flyer, Idaho, Georgie Oakes, General Sherman, Grant, Harrison, Idaho, Imp, Irene, Julietta, Kootenai, Mica Bay, Michigan, Miss Spokane, Mudhen, Milwaukee, Tacoma, previously named Narin, North Star, Radio, Rob Roy, Rover, Queen, Schley, Seattle, Shoshone, Spokane (built in 1881) Spokane (built 1901) Stern-wheeler Harrison, Tacoma, Torpedo, Victor, Volunteer, Wallace, Wardner. The previously named boats (not all included) all operated either on the lake or one of the rivers. If the smaller pleasure boats and tugboats were all mentioned I’m sure there would be several hundred.
The Sunken Ore of Lake Coeur D’ Alene
More has been written about the Steamboat activity on the lake than would fit in several books. References to the lake in the Harrison Searchlight alone would fill several volumes. However one of the most alluring stories about the lake was told by Ruby Hult, in her book, Lost Mines and Treasures, told about the “Sunken Ore of Lake Coeur d’ Alene”. Here are excerpts from her book: “In the late 1880’s three large steamboats plied Lake Coeur d’ Alene from the little town of Coeur d’ Alene at the north end of the lake to the head of navigation on the Coeur d’ Alene River. Two of the steamers, the Coeur d’ Alene and the General Sherman had been built during the gold rush days of 1883-84 when men by the thousands went streaming into the Coeur d’ Alene Mountains to the creek named Prichard for the man who had first discovered gold there.
The gold excitement lasted only a couple of years, and the steamer business would have fallen on lean days had not a new and different strike been made. In 1885 the strayed mule of an old prospector, N.S. Kellogg, was found standing on a wide, glittering ledge of galena. This became the fabulous Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mine, which is still producing annual fortunes in lead and silver ore; and it was but the first of several important lead and silver strikes in the immediate area.
All this ore had to be transported out of the mountains somehow, and D.C. Corbin solved the problem by building a ‘chippy railroad’ (a narrow gauge) from the mines to the river. He converted the two gold-rush steamers to ore carriers, then built a third vessel, the ice-breaker Kootenai to operate in winter months. His system was so profitable that the Northern Pacific Railroad bought him out in 1888.
Head of navigation on the Coeur d’ Alene River was the Old Mission-location of the Mission of the Sacred Heart built by the Jesuit fathers in 1853. One day late in the fall of 1889, when the Kootenai arrived at the Old Mission, Captain Nesbit received orders to take down two barges loaded with 150 tons of ore each, as the river was beginning to freeze. As he proceeded downstream he discovered that the boat and barge made too broad a front push against the river ice, so he tied one barge to the bank near the present site of Springston, then went on, towing the other.
After the Kootenai crossed the bar at the mouth of the river into the ice-free lake around midnight, the crew felt the big job was over and everyone not on duty went to bed. Fred Wilson, afterwards a captain on many lake steamers, had joined the Kootenai crew as a fireman, and he remained to stand watch for the engineer, Captain Waters, who had had a grueling day.
‘My who duty was to oil the cylinders and answer the bells if there were any,’ Wilson wrote in an account later published in the Coeur d’ Alene Press. ‘After and hours of quiet, I looked out the port window and saw the barge riding way over on its side. I rushed to the speaking tube and reported to the captain. I got the bell to stop the engines. Later came the bell for half speed ahead. The captain had decided to start for shore about a quarter of a mile beyond McDonald’s Point.
‘The ore was in three long tiers, running the length of the barge and piled about four feet high. When we were about 300 feet from shore, the port pile toppled over and splashed into the lake, and of course in a minute the starboard pile went overboard, and then almost all of the center pile lurched into the lake. A few seconds later, when the captain drove her into the, we rushed onto the barge to see only fifteen tons of the ore remaining scattered all over the deck.’
In those minutes, 135 tons of ore, then worth $15,000 and today worth about twice that, disappeared beneath the lake waters.
Following Captain Nesbit’s report of this loss, the Northern Pacific brought in a diver, who found that the ore had sunk to a depth of 60 to 100 feet and the cost of recovery would be more than it was worth. So the NP wrote it off as a total loss.
This left the ore a fair prize for anyone who could raise it. A steamer employee, Charles Griswold-later a captain on the lake-suggested to Fred Wilson, who knew the exact spot, that they give a try to dredging up those sacks.
‘It seemed like a good idea, Wilson’s account says. We both quit our jobs, got a big grubstake, some lumber, one hundred fifty feet of half-inch rope, so peaveys, a grappling hook, some nails and spikes, loaded along with us, and paddled for McDonald’s Point.’
‘After a good night’s sleep we started to build a raft of logs, covering the logs with the lumber we had brought. When it was finished we towed it up to where canvas sacks, mildewed and worn out, and each sack contained one hundred twenty-five of ore. We worked faithfully three or four days, brought up an ore truck and a locomotive headlight. We would pull up heavy objects but when we got them near the surface they would drop back to the bottom. Whether we ever got hold of any ore we do not know, although we did bring up bits of canvas. Anyway we quit.’
In 1951 this sunken ore story was revived by Clement Wilkins in his ‘Backward Glances’ column in the Kootenai County Leader. By then Captain Fred Wilson was dead, but William E. Merriam, and old steamboat engineer, said that Wilson had often pointed out the exact spot to him and he thought that with modern diving equipment salvage might be comparatively easy.
Wilkins’ column excited the interest of a local diver, Wesley R. Johnson, who made his living by such projects as lifting sunken logs for mills, fishing out lost bulldozers for bridge builders, and raising cars lost in lake accidents. Johnson made a trip to the sunken ore location and said salvage operations appeared practicable. He told Wilkins that as soon as he got a slack spell in his diving work he would take the navy landing craft which he used in his work to the sport near McDonald’s Point and go down to look for the ore. ‘If it’s there, I’ll find it,’ he said.
As he was well equipped, Johnson probably would have found it and might have been successful in bringing it to the surface. But when the slack spell came, he got into some trouble in Bonners Ferry, where he landed in jail. He became despondent, slashed his wrists, and died in his cell.
Because of this tragedy, no one has yet applied modern diving techniques to the problem of raising Lake Coeur d’ Alene’s sunken treasure. Bill Merriam is no long around to give directions, but one veteran steamboat man still lives in Coeur d’ Alene, the engineer Captain Ernie Weeks. He knew Fred Wilson well and made countless trips with him across the lake. If anyone still knows the approximated resting place of the $30,000 worth of ore, it is Weeks.
For those to who this unclaimed wealth lying on the lake bottom presents a challenge, the first thing to do would be to find some other diver or underwater salvor who would go take another look and see if he agrees with Johnson that salvage is practicable. If the answer is yes, then the project would seem worthwhile. As for operating funds, a number of interested parties might pool their resources. In treasure hunting that has often proved reward to all concerned.”
In an article entitled “Treasures and Tragedies of Lake Coeur d’ Alene, The Spokesman Review-Chronicle, Sunday September 28, 1986, an article featuring Tom Michalski, well-known diver at the time, discussed the silver ore on the lake bottom with diving friend Don Budvarson. “It’s just a junkyard,” said Budvarson. It’s just a dump for the city of Coeur d’ Alene and the surrounding towns-everything from cars to bodies to old telephones are on the bottom.” Silver, steamboats, airplanes, cars and assorted bodies are a jetsam of more than a hundred years of North Idaho history that rests on the bottom of this lake.
At that time the men were estimating that assuming that modern methods could extract 1000 ounces of silver from each ton of ore, the hoard would be worth almost $800,000. That is easily the most valuable thing in the lake. At today’s prices with silver reaching $20.00 to $30.00 per ounce with 135,000 ounces the value of the ore could be from about $2,700,000 to over $4,000,000. During the summer of 1985 a Seattle dive team looked for the ore off McDonald Point, but apparently they did not find anything because they didn’t come back. Failure to find any trace of the ore could easily be complicated now by being covered up with as much as 10 feet of silt the divers said.
Tom Michalski’s project in 1986 was to recover artifacts from the tugboat “Reliable”, which sank near Spokane Point. He recovered the steering wheel and whistle and its owner’s blowtorch and shoes. This author was there in 1987 when he raised the steam engine of the tugboat as shown in the photos. It was amazing how good the engine looked after being in the water so long.
Lake Coeur d’ Alene was the primary method of transporting timber in Kootenai and Benewah Counties after the timber industry started before the turn of the last century. In fact, prior to a fire in 1917, Harrison was considered as the potential county seat of Kootenai County, as the swiftly growing lumber town was near the mouth of the Coeur d’ Alene River, and less than five miles from the mouth of the St. Joe River as they entered the lake. After the fire of 1910 that burned 15 billion feet of timber in the Inland Northwest and the Harrison fire of 1917 the mills in the city of Coeur d’Alene became the most prominent. With its proximity to Spokane, WA, and due in part to the electric line that served the two cities, Coeur d’ Alene then grew to become the county seat.
During the late 1950’s the Lafferty Transportation Company used 12 tugboats to tow logs on the lake for five timber firms. About 125,000,000 board feet of logs were transported each year on the lake. They were towed in booms of up to 4,000,000 board feet per trip and were moved across the lake at a snail’s pace. Tows usually took about 36 hours to cover about 23-25 miles. For river towing the logs were moved in bundles called “Brails”. These Brails were assembled into “Booms” for the trip to the mill. The last brails of logs that were towed from St. Maries to Coeur d’ Alene by tugboat were about in about 2009-10.
The city was named after President Benjamin Harrison who was a family friend of the Crane family who founded the city about 1891 and built the first house, which is owned by the Crane Historical Society. At the turn of the century Harrison had seven sawmills on its waterfront. In 1900 Coeur d’ Alene had 505 residents and Harrison had 702. In 1911 there were 1250 residents. Later Harrison had a population of between 2500 and 3000 residents depending on what source of information used. In 2010 there were 203 residents in town. As the only other city on the lake, it was in a perfect place to take advantage of this commerce. There was so much White Pine in the Coeur d’ Alene and St. Joe River Valleys they thought they would never be able to cut all of it. That is why the lake was referred to as, “The Magnificent Millpond”. Opening of Homesteads around the lake after the turn of the century created a need for transportation into the region and soon many beautiful steamboats traveled this unique lake and river system. This all combined to make Coeur d’ Alene Lake one of the most desirable areas to settle.
After the fire of 1917 that destroyed most of the business district many people left for places like Coeur d’ Alene. Only one sawmill remained, The Russell and Pugh Mill at Springston until the late 1950’s.
Recreation Commercial Potential
The combination of this river-lake system now creates a unique recreational potential today. Boaters and fishermen travel the waters and lakes and enjoy excellent fishing. Camping and fishing in the Coeur d’ Alene River system is accessible by land and water. Waterfront homes along all these lakes and rivers enjoy unique access to this water system.
Robert Ripley featured Lake Coeur d’ Alene in his early travel columns, and many travel writers extol its beauty regularly today. It has been further said that it is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. One of the main reasons for such accolades is that it is connected to three rivers-the St Joe, Coeur d’ Alene and Spokane, which makes this scenic by-way an appealing boating, fishing, camping and recreational paradise. The St. Joe River travels from its source at St. Joe Lake to where it empties into Lake Coeur d’ Alene. Its crystal clear water offers outstanding scenery, excellent catch and release fishing, and plenty of wildlife. There are numerous small, rustic campgrounds along the shores of the road portion of the river (39.7 miles) and a trail along the entire wild portion (26.6 miles) of the river to its headwaters at St. Joe Lake. The river was originally named the “St. Joseph” by Father Pierre-Jean Desmet, a Catholic priest who established a mission nearby.
There are two islands on the lake, Kid Island in Kid Bay (North End of lake) and Corine Island at the mouth of Swede Bay. There is also the famous floating golf green island on the lake as part of the Coeur d’Alene Golf Course.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe owns the southern third of Lake Coeur d’Alene. In United States v. Idaho, the United States Supreme Court held an 1873 executive order issued by Ulysses S. Grant transferred ownership to the Tribe. While the court holding has not affected usage and access to Lake Coeur d’Alene, the Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that the Tribe may set its own water-quality standards on its portion of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Recreation is probably the most common use of the lake and river system today with watercraft of every description traveling the waterways. The largest boats on the lake today carry up to about 500 passengers and operate mostly at the north end of the lake, except for St. Joe River Cruises to the South. Modern roads that were built around the lake shortly after the 1920’s, eliminated the need for water transportation to various destinations that were more easily reached by automobile. Water access to many campgrounds and lake and river access points provide many recreational opportunities.
The Steamboat Days on Lake Coeur d’ Alene will always be a romantic and nostalgic period of our history. There are memories of Sunday dance bands playing on the Idaho as she steamed up the lake to St. Maries; the whistle of the Harrison alerted the town that she was about to arrive to pick up passengers for Amwaco; the Georgie Oakes, gallant lady of the lake, would stop to buy wood along the lake to fire her boiler; the Flyer would stop in Harrison on her way to St. Maries or Coeur d’ Alene. All these memories of days gone by are for each one of us to imagine, treasure and remember.
Credits: The Harrison Searchlight, Crane Historical Society, Museum of North Idaho, Bert Russell, Ruby El Hult, Iva Carns,The Spokesman Review, The Coeur d’ Alene Press and several state and federal agencies that provide information about Lake Coeur d’ Alene. Originally printed in The Harrison Searchlight, Old Time Picnic Celebration Edition, Vol 66, No 66.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Finally, on last day of our vacation, we ventured up the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes from the Springston trail head (near Harrison, Idaho). It's not uncommon to see moose, waterfowl, and other critters on the trail, but this time they all stayed hidden leaving time for us to reflect and enjoy some spectacular reflections before heading back to Chicago.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
The top two runners up will also be selected to support Miss Diamond Cup Coeur d’Alene 2013.
The First Place Winner will receive $750.00, the second place winner will receive $500.00, and the third place winner will receive $250.00 In addition, a check for $500.00 will be presented to a local Charity of the winner’s choice.
Entry forms are available on the official Miss Diamond Cup website. The venue for the Miss Diamond Cup Coeur d’Alene 2013 events is being hosted by The Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises.
"VOTE ON THE BOAT" Top Ten (10) Selection Contest - August 22, 2013
7:00 to 9:00 PM aboard one of The Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruise boats.
The participation fee is $20.00 per person and includes one vote for your favorite contestant. Tickets can be purchased at Live after 5 (Wednesday Evenings from 5-8:00 PM at the Corner of Sherman and 6th, CDA), on the Miss Diamond Cup tickets page, and at the events. Boarding will take place at Independence Point on the West side of the hotel
Finals Contest - August 29, 2013
7:00 to 9:00 PM at the Hagadone Event Center on beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene.
The participation fee is $20.00 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the event.
For more information, check out the following links of interest:
Miss Diamond Cup Facebook Page
Coeur d'Alene Diamond Cup ticket sales
Lake Coeur d'Alene Cruises
Events Hosted By The Lake Coeur d'Alene Cruises. The Miss Diamond Cup Coeur d’Alene 2013 events are brought to you by Miss Diamond Cup Coeur d’Alene LLC., in cooperation with the Hydromaniacs Booster Club.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
The draw had been made and the time had come to race. Would the 1960 be a repeat of the chaos of ’59 or would this be the best race ever? Race organizers were lobbying for the latter.
At the time of the draw on Friday night, two of the boats remained unqualified – Tool Crib and KOL-Roy. They were told at the heat draw that they both would be given another opportunity between 10:30 am and and the start time of the first heat on Saturday (1:30 p.m.) to make the minimum speed.
If either of them made the field, they were to be added to the first section of heats in the order they qualified. The order would be reversed only if the KOL-Roy and KOL-Roy 1 ended up in the same heat since two boats from the same camp could not compete in the same heat of racing.
Saturday – July 23
Cooler temperatures greeted race fans and teams as they arrived Saturday morning. The cool morning would lose out to rapidly rising temperatures, and the racecourse hovered near 87º by the time mid-afternoon rolled around.
As had been the case in both of the previous races, the real weather issue was not the heat, however. It was wind. Sustained winds had created a roiling mess of whitecaps and rollers the full length of the course as the pits opened on Saturday morning.
Despite repeated efforts, both Tool Crib and KOL-Roy failed to qualify before the 1:30 pm deadline on Saturday. Their failure could be partly blamed on mechanical issues and partly on the water conditions. At any rate, neither qualified and the heat draws didn’t change.
Ron Musson arrived in town in time to take a brief, bumpy test run at the wheel in Hawaii Kai before the start of racing. He had arrived late Friday, having been able to find an earlier flight from Akron.
Ron Musson started the day in Coeur d’Alene rather than on an airplane. He was able to get an earlier flight out of Akron after all and arrived late Friday night. This allowed him to take a brief, bumpy test drive of the Hawaii Kai before the start of Saturday’s racing.
The 1960 Diamond Cup got officially underway just prior to the beginning of the Saturday’s racing with the playing of the national anthem by the Washington Air National Guard unit from Spokane. Punctuating the ceremony was a surprise flyover by several of the Air Guard unit’s F-86 jet fighters.
The heavy winds and rough water that had roiled the racecourse in the morning continued into the afternoon hours, and the start of Saturday’s racing was delayed for nearly thirty minutes. After conferring with Referee Stanley Donough, drivers and owners agreed to race despite the poor conditions.
The two fastest boats from testing and qualifying were pitted against one another as the boats took to the course to begin racing when the course was finally opened. Miss Spokane and Miss Seattle Too lived up to expectation and most certainly didn’t disappoint.
All five boats made it into the water, but all five did not make it safely to the start line under power.
First to fall to the wayside was Bob Gilliam and KOL-Roy 1. Because of a balky battery and fuel mixture, Gilliam was unable to get the boat running before the one-minute gun. When he finally did get the boat up and going, he was forced to bring it back to the dock. A post race assessment by the team revealed that in the short while it was running that the team had suffered a blown gearbox and drive shaft that later caused Gilliam to withdraw the boat from the race entirely.
The field shrunk by another contestant just shortly before the starting gun sounded. Red Loomis, driver of Miss Everett, had a very close call during the scoring-up period prior to the start of the race. The main shaft gearbox tore completely loose from its mountings and nearly knocked Loomis out of the boat’s cockpit.
As Loomis fought to stay in the boat, he gripped the big steering wheel with sufficient force that it bent in his grasp. The damage to the hull when the gearbox let go was severe enough that owner Bob Miller withdrew his boat from the race as well.
Meanwhile, the remaining boats, $ Bill, Miss Spokane, and Miss Seattle Too, battled against the swirling 15 mph wind on the front straightaway as they approached the start line. Cutting to the first lane, Norm Evans brought Miss Seattle Too into position to make one of his prototypical starts.
Evans had the pole position as the boats headed for the start line and was nearly two full-boat lengths ahead of Rex Manchester and Miss Spokane as the field sailed past the official barge. He widened his advantage as he moved into the north turn, and was in full command as the Miss Seattle Too exited onto the back straight.
Reflecting his intense starting charge, Evans posted a first lap of 107.356 mph despite the increasing wave action. Behind him, Manchester steered through the slop with Miss Spokane to a first lap speed of 101.124.
For four and one-half laps, Evans maintained a respectable distance on Manchester, and at the end there was just a 2.07 mph margin between the two. Miss Spokane averaged 100.708 mph for the 15 miles while Evans and Seattle Too posted a five lap average of 102.778.
Evans seemed to have no problems keeping the rough water boat close to each turn buoy. The lighter Miss Spokane was noticeably less successful in negotiating the turns, but Manchester seemed to close the distance on Evans several times as the boats roared down the straightaways.
“You can’t beat the Rolls engine,” said Evans in a post-race interview. “It simply has more stuff coming out of the turns than the Allison. The boat ran great all the way. I heard one ‘pop’ on the first straightaway, but that probably came as I saw I was a little late and tromped on her.”
Ray Crawford scored a late third place finish with a rough running $ Bill. He managed to post a speed of only 79.741 mph and suffered the embarrassment of being lapped by Seattle Too on the final lap. Miss Spokane was about to do likewise as the two boats crossed the start-finish line.
As planned, Evans departed for the Spokane airport after his win and caught a flight east to drive in the St. Clair International Trophy Race in St. Clair, Michigan. His plane left at midnight, and he was scheduled to arrive in Detroit at 10 am and St. Clair at around 11 am which was a scant one hour before the scheduled start of the race on the boundary of Canada and the U.S.
The winds continued to be uncooperative as the starting time for Heat 1-B was set back an additional thirty minutes.
Miss Thriftway, Hawaii Kai, and Miss Burien all hit the start line in a near perfect start. Bill Muncey had taken the inside lane coming out of the south turn and all three of the boats were somewhere in the area of a full two seconds behind the starting gun when it sounded signaling a safe start. Ron Musson had somehow mistimed his start in Hawaii Kai and found himself some six-boat lengths behind the lead boat, Miss Thriftway.
The first lap ended with no change in the running order, but a struggling Miss Bardahl appeared to continue to lose ground on the three lead boats. By the end of lap three, Miss Burien had also begun to fall off of the blistering pace set by Thriftway and Hawaii Kai. By the start of the final lap, it was down to a two-boat contest.
Running strong despite the steady winds, Musson and Hawaii Kai had stayed within striking distance of Muncey in Thriftway. As the two boats entered the south turn towards the end of lap four, Musson seemed to reach down and find another gear and Hawaii Kai surged forward.
Muncey stayed on the inside lane, but Musson drew alongside of him as they exited the turn. He had enough acceleration left in the Kai to pull past Muncey and into the lead as the two boats thundered across the start-finish line to begin lap five.
As the two leaders exited the north turn onto the southbound straightaway, both appeared to be at full throttle. Again the advantage of acceleration went to Hawaii Kai, and Musson was able to use the increase in separation to cut in toward the entrance buoy on the south turn leaving Muncey in the midst of his roostertail. Musson then kept the power on full-bore in his sprint to the finish line and finished nearly 300 yards ahead of Thriftway at the end.
Musson’s speed for the 15 miles was 106.761. It was even more impressive when one considered the water conditions involved. The hot lap for the Hawaii Kai was the decisive fourth lap when it toured the course at a blistering 112.500 to Muncey’s 103.647.
As Musson stepped from his boat onto the dock following the heat, he said:
“I knew Muncey would try to force me wide, but he never did flare out and take me way down the lake on the turns, so I had things under control all the way. When I had my chance coming out of that fourth lap, I shoved it into the firewall and, man, she really started flying! I did 112 in that lap? I guess she really was flying.”
“Why was I beaten? Because he outdrove me,” Muncey said in his post-race interview with the media. “The Kai may have had a slight advantage because of the weight, but that isn’t why I got beat. He just outdrove me. I had him on my hip and I never should have let him off, but I did…and I let him loose at the wrong time.”
The actual margin of victory for Musson in the fifth and deciding lap was 1.744 mph over Muncey’s hard-charging craft. Chuck Hickling and Miss Burien came in third at 98.720 mph, and Jim McGuire and Miss Bardahl placed fourth and was well off the pace with an average speed of 93.861 mph.
When the teams re-drew for slots in the second section of racing, the talent appeared to be spread fairly evenly between the two heats. Both of Saturday’s winners were drawn into Heat 2-A, signaling that it may be the one to watch. Joining the Hawaii Kai and Seattle Too in 2-A were $ Bill, Miss Everett, and KOL-Roy.
Any of the four boats drawn into Heat 2-B had the potential to win, as Miss Thriftway, Miss Spokane, Miss Burien, and Miss Bardahl filled the slots for that heat.
Sunday – July 24
The high temperature for Sunday was a more comfortable 83 degrees, and the choppy water conditions that had prevailed throughout the first two heats on Saturday gave way to near placid conditions.
Light breezes prevailed as the boats took to the water for Heat 2-A.
The crowd size for the opening heat on Sunday was estimated at 75,000 to 100,000 fans depending on who made the estimate. Whatever the number, they watched as Dallas Sartz and Miss Seattle Too positioned themselves well for the start of Heat 2-A. Sartz had secured the all-important inside lane in the run up to the start and appeared to be as much as a second and a half behind the start clock. Running much wider, Ron Musson and Hawaii Kai made up the split between them coming off the turn. Both boats made a legal start with time to spare as Hawaii Kai edged ahead slightly as the boats crossed the start line and thundered down the main straight.
Sartz kept his foot firmly on the accelerator pedal. He maintained the inside position all the way to the apex of the north turn. Passing within a few feet of the center turn buoy, Sartz literally flew around the north end of the course. Coming out of the turn, Seattle Too appeared to kite off the water several times, recover the proper attitude, and then accelerate down the backstretch. By the end of the first lap, the Sartz easily led Musson and Hawaii Kai by slightly more than a thousand yards.
As the two lead boats entered lap two, Hawaii Kai’s water temperature gauge plugged up, sending a spray of hot water into Musson’s face. He had no alternative other than to ease back and, from that point on, Sartz and Seattle Too were effectively by themselves all the way to the finish. Over the course of the five laps, Musson had made up only a few yards of the initial lead that Sartz had built.
Sartz posted an average speed of 102.857 mph, with Hawaii Kai garnering a five-lap average of 99.667. Bob Gilliam and KOL-Roy 1 was well off the pace in third place with an average speed of 89.315 mph, and Ray Crawford was barely able to keep $ Bill on a plane with a dismal 71.3.53 mph. The fast lap for the heat came on lap one when Sartz recorded a 107.570 mph circuit.
Water conditions on the lake were “millpond quiet” as the four contenders took to the water for Heat 2-B at the five-minute gun. Badly in need of a win, Bill Muncey thundered Miss Thriftway over the start line in a deck-to-deck battle with rookie Jim McGuire and Miss Bardahl. Just behind them were Rex Manchester and Miss Spokane and Chuck Hickling and Miss Burien, both hidden in the roostertails of the two lead boats.
Muncey kept his speed up deep into the turn, edging Thriftway just ahead of Bardahl. Hickling and Burien also gained ground on the leaders from his position on the outside. As the boats moved through the turn, Burien and Thriftway were seen to be side by side, but as they exited the turn Thriftway had suddenly pulled ahead.
Muncey led from that point forward with Hickling pursuing him hotly for the majority of the first two laps. Taking on water towards the end of lap two, Burien briefly lost speed and when Hickling was able to regain some momentum, McGuire and Bardahl had passed him and Thriftway was nearly out of sight.
Hickling spent the majority of the remaining laps chasing down Bardahl. He finally passed the Green Dragon as the two boats roared out of the final turn.
Muncey didn’t slack off, and averaged 107.398 mph for the 15-mile heat.
When Hickling returned to the pits after the race he raised both fists in anger towards Muncey. There ensued a heated confrontation wherein Hickling accused Muncey of “chopping him off”. Through it all, Muncey steadfastly maintained his innocence.
Photo documentation shows Hickling coming within inches of taking off the tail and rear cowling of Thriftway.
“I don’t know how I missed Muncey – he really cut me off in the turn. They should keep that guy out of a boat, “ Hickling fumed.
“I had to go someplace; I sure wasn’t trying to get you,” he emphatically told the Burien driver.
To settle the issue, the Burien team chose to file a formal protest, and the race officials promptly rejected it. They ruled Muncey had a legal overlap over Miss Burien, and thereby had violated no racing rule. The ruling that there was a legal overlap was immediately questioned on the basis that Miss Burien returned to the pit bearing some of the Thriftway’s bright orange paint on his hull.
Outside and slightly behind Burien and Thriftway in the first turn was Jim McGuire and Miss Bardahl. He was reported in one of the Spokane papers as saying he thought Muncey had left enough room for Hickling to get through. He also thought the two had indeed collided and someone had been thrown from one of the boats. Seeing Miss Burien brushing across Thriftway’s transom, McGuire was certain that the white-and-red boat had flipped. He immediately swung wide to permit the rest of the field to miss Hickling if he indeed had been thrown into the water.
In making his hasty move, McGuire zoomed so close to the nearby city beach that the name on the boat could be read without a pair of binoculars.
Miss Spokane blew a water line just as it crossed the starting line and suffered a loss of power. Manchester took the boat back to the pits in an effort to avoid further engine damage. Fortunately for the Miss Spokane team, the 300 points Manchester earned in the other preliminary heat would be enough to put them in the final. It took a crewmember about three seconds to make what was a relatively minor repair and to ready the craft for further action.
With the friction generated in Heat 2-B still lingering in the air, the final heat promised to be a genuine old-fashioned barnburner and not simply because of the dust-up between Muncey and Hickling.
Qualifying for the heat were the day’s four hottest boats: Miss Burien, Miss Thriftway, Miss Seattle Too, and Hawaii Kai. Joining the four hot boats in the final were the marginally competitive boats driven by Jim McGuire in Miss Bardahl and Rex Manchester in the local favorite Miss Spokane. Ray Crawford and the underperforming $ Bill rounded out the field. With the probable exception of $ Bill, all of the boats were capable of taking the trophy if the stars were to align correctly. This set the stage for an exciting and strategy-filled race for the 1960 Diamond Cup crown.
The race itself was far from disappointing. The start was as exciting as any Diamond Cup start had ever been with five of the boats moving their bows across the start-finish line together at an estimated 170 mph.
As the tightly knit pack headed for the narrow north end of the course, Muncey and Thriftway seemed to get to the turn buoy first …but in actuality he didn’t. Chuck Hickling had taken a position just outside Thriftway with Miss Burien, and he succeeded in getting Burien’s nose in front of Muncey as they slid into the turn.
Trapped between Burien in front of him and Hawaii Kai behind him about a third of the way through the turn, Muncey tried to cut between them into a clear lane. As he did so, he caught one of their wakes and the white-and-orange boat went airborne. When Thriftway landed back on the lake, the running order of the field changed radically.
Hickling was now charging away with Burien out in front. A short distance back was Hawaii Kai, with Miss Seattle Too a very close third. Tons of water had swamped Muncey and Thriftway, and he slowly drifted to a stop. With the ignition watered down, Muncey lay dead in the water in the midst of the turn.
With Muncey sidelined, Sartz needed only to place ahead of Musson and Hawaii Kai to take the trophy home.
As the boats thundered down the backstretch, Hawaii Kai and Seattle Too were chasing Hickling at distances of between 200 and 400 yards. Suddenly, Hawaii Kai went dead as the boats approached the entrance buoy to the south turn.
Hawaii Kai was out for good. The boat had thrown a blade off of its three-bladed propeller, and Musson nearly landed on his nose when the boat suddenly hooked. Simultaneously, the severed blade tore through the bottom of the boat, ripping open a gaping hole near the left side of the rear transom. With one of the blades gone, the propeller became unbalanced and the shaft connecting the propeller to the gear box “pretzeled” – twisting badly enough to tear loose one of the two struts holding the shaft away from the bottom of the boat. This left another hole in the bottom, and the Pink Lady quickly began to sink.
Fortunately, one of the several hundred craft tethered to the log boom on the west side of the course was Fred Murphy’s pile-driving barge. Quick action led to the boat being hooked onto the cables on the pile driver. A pump aboard the barge kept the damaged craft afloat, and Musson watched the rest of the race from this location.
After the race, Musson was careful not to lay blame on the maker of the faulty propeller. It was probably the most politically correct thing to do, since it was a Cary prop, and the owner of the Cary Propeller Company in the United States was Hawaii Kai owner Joe Mascari.
Rex Manchester had become a spectator as well. He had been one of the five boats deck-to-deck at the start of the race with Miss Spokane, but the stress of the start proved too much for the big Rolls, and it threw a rod just as the starting cannon fired.
Muncey would eventually restart Miss Thriftway but, by the time he did so, he had lost nearly a lap on the leaders. He did manage to catch the struggling $ Bill before the finish line with a fourth lap of 101.313.
Hickling recorded a five-lap average of 99.484 with Miss Burien and posted the fastest lap of the heat on lap one with a 105.882. Sartz followed him across the finish line with the victorious Seattle Too at an average speed of 96.531 mph. McGuire managed to finish with a speed of 91.618 in Bardahl. Muncey and Thriftway rallied to overtake $Bill for fourth and posted a somewhat-dismal average speed of 84.692 mph. Crawford and $ Bill stayed barely on plane and posted a 74.155 mph for fifth.
On returning to the dock, Sartz enjoyed a congratulatory kiss from Diamond Cup Queen Petty Ann Runge. He then received congratulatory handshakes and hugs from boat owners Glen and Milo Stoen before being thrown into the water by his crew.
|Diamond Cup Queen Petty Runge gives Dallas Sartz the winner’s kiss following the trophy presentation.|
Petty Runge Collection – Coeur d’Alene Press Photo
Saying that he was unable to drive the race the way he wanted because of the “traffic congestion” at the start, Sartz gave much of the credit for his win to Chuck Hickling.
“The Burien gave me a big assist by handling the Thrifty,” Sartz said.
Norm Evans scored a first and a third in the two heats he raced that weekend. Sharing the victory in Coeur d’Alene with Sartz in Seattle Too, he placed third in St. Clair exhibition while driving the Nitrogen Too, finishing behind Bill Cantrell’s Gale V and Walter Kade’s Thunderbolt.
Later Sunday evening, the boat owners, drivers, and crews joined race organizers for the post-race banquet and awards presentations. On this occasion it was held at the exclusive Hayden Lake Country Club and was hosted by that year’s Commodore Duane Hagadone. The master of ceremonies was Coeur d’Alene lawyer, Bill Hawkins, and the special guest was Hollywood television actress Abby Dalton.
After the dinner had been consumed, Queen Petty Runge presented the winner’s trophy to driver Dallas Sartz and Seattle Too’s owners as Commodore Duane Hagadone assisted her. Trophies were then distributed to the top seven finishers . Chuck Hickling accepted the trophy for second place finisher Miss Burien, and Bill Muncey received the third place hardware for the Miss Thriftway team.
Norris Benson, vice commodore, presented the newly established Ken McEuen Trophy for the fastest heat to Bill Muncey and the Thriftway team. Muncey had driven Miss Thriftway to 107.398 mph in Heat 2-B to break the old heat record set in 1959 by Brien Wygle in the Hawaii Kai.
Following the banquet, Bill Muncey approached Sartz and surprised him with a present of sorts. It seems Muncey’s wife, Kit, had looked at the manner in which the Thriftway team had started the season with victories at Chelan’s Apple Cup and the Detroit Memorial and had assumed that her husband’s success would likely carry over to the Coeur d’Alene race. Despite dramatic success elsewhere on the race circuit, the Diamond Cup had eluded Bill’s grasp in his first two appearances in the Lake City, and yet Kit was confident his luck was about to change, so she purchased Bill a victory gift with plans to give it to him following what she considered to be a sure victory.
Kit’s plan, however, suffered a severe setback when the Seattle Too team and Sartz scored the unforeseen upset. Despite Bill’s disappointing loss, she presented him with the gift anyway. Looking at the gift, Bill immediately felt Sartz would have better appreciation of it, so he gifted his friend at the close of the festivities. The gift was a small pair of custom crafted cufflinks – each with a replica the Diamond Cup and etched with “1960”.
“I wonder,” Sartz grinned, “if Kit was thinking of me when she ordered it before the race?”
In 2011, I was introduced to Barry Sartz, Dallas’ son. To my surprise, he verified the story of the cufflinks and showed them to me.
|The cufflinks presented to Dallas Sartz by Bill Muncey following his win in the 1960 Diamond Cup.|
Photo by Stephen Shepperd Photo
In a Monday article following the race, the Coeur d’Alene Press submitted their estimate of Sunday’s crowd. Their best quess was less conservative than the Spokane newspapers, and they declared that nearly 130,000 fans attended the 1960 race. The Press heralded the event as the largest event ever to be attended in Coeur d’Alene - or Idaho for that matter.
Acting Police Chief Riene Schmidt was more conservative in his estimate, putting the number of those attending at between 75,000 and 80,000 people. He put Saturday’s crowd at a slightly smaller 50,000. The Idaho State Police counted 4,300 cars heading through the westbound interchange in the two hours following the final heat of racing on Sunday. A bumper-to-bumper line of cars extended from the western-most interchange at Ramsey Road all the way back to Gibbs Mercantile on Northwest Boulevard.
The growing shadow of professionalism was cast again on the sport of hydroplane racing when word was received from Seattle that the Seafair sponsoring organization, Greater Seattle, Inc., was bending to the demands made by some race teams for increased appearance and prize money for their 1960 race, and Greater Seattle’s “gimmick” to attract those teams came in the form of fast lap prizes for “qualifying” and a much larger prize payout.
The fastest lap recorded for the day would receive $500 and the other four fast laps would each earn the boat team $400, $300, $200, and $100 in descending order. There was no restriction on the number of times that an owner could try to “qualify” a boat. The increased cost to the promoters for the new wrinkle was a minimum of $1500 each day.
If that were not enough, Greater Seattle, Inc. announced that the total prize package for the August Seafair race would total $66,000. Of that total, the winning boat would take home $3,000. There were suddenly many more reasons to race in Seattle.
The impact of the decision to increase the payout to owners and drivers would be felt in Coeur d’Alene and every other small-venue race site on the unlimited circuit. This development could very well be considered to be the beginning of the end for the Diamond Cup.
On August 5, the Diamond Cup race committee met to evaluate the 1960 race effort. They reported an income of $22,760.07 against expenses of $21,525.38 from January 1 through the reporting date. This represented a net profit of only $1,234.69.
The report also listed anticipated income from the annual banquet and donations of $400, and anticipated expenses from telephone, utilities, and other miscellaneous items of $370.00. The reported August 5 bank balance after adjusting for added anticipated income and expenses was $3,636.64 to begin the effort to run a 1961 race. The bottom line was the CUHA finished in the black with a small nest egg to start planning anew.
After deciding to proceed with a 1961 Diamond Cup, the CUHA board of directors selected Norris Benson as the 1961 commodore. Elected to act as race chairman was Carter Crimp and the vice commodore’s position went to Joe Acuff. Duane Hagadone had turned down the committee’s request to serve a second year as commodore, but committed to do everything he could to help with the effort.
Late in November the Spokesman-Review ran an article announcing the Detroit sponsorship group had submitted a bid to bring the Gold Cup back to Detroit for 1961. The 1960 race on Lake Mead had no winner because the November 14 event had been canceled due to high winds, leaving the APBA to select a new site for the next race.
The outcome of the bidding would have an indirect affect on the 1961 Diamond Cup and the future of the race in general.
The growing insistence on prize money would have an affect on all small-venue race sites in 1961. It would also have a greater effect on the running of the 1961 Diamond Cup than on any of the other race sites that decided to sponsor a race in 1961. It likely signaled the very beginning of the end.
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Coeur d'Alene Hydromaniacs
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013
As I did my research on the history of the Diamond Cup, I found that 1960 was truly a benchmark year for unlimited hydroplane racing. Many of the changes that would ultimately cause the demise of the Diamond Cup had their genesis in the events of 1960.
What had started the decade of the 1950’s as a rich man’s hobby filled largely with weekend racers began to emerge as a more professional sport dominated by a few owners and drivers who seemed more intent on the almighty dollar than on advancing the well being of the sport.
Most of the call for change came from the eastern contingent of owners. There had always been a division in the sport that was largely based on geography. The western boats would rarely travel eastward unless they were competing in the Harmsworth Trophy or Gold Cup races. The same was mostly true of the eastern boats as well.
Now there was a contingent comprised primarily of the elite of the Detroit boat owners that absolutely refused to travel anywhere unless the money was sufficient to incentivize them to do so. The growing number of western races only intensified the men’s demands for increases in prize and travel money to get their boats to move.
That was the atmosphere that greeted the Coeur d’Alene Unlimited Hydroplane Association as they began to focus on planning for the third annual version of the Diamond Cup.
Shortly after the 1959 race concluded, the CUHA Board of Directors met to evaluate the second annual race. It was a consensus that the race had been an unqualified success, and so the board chose to apply for race dates in middle to late July.
The CUHA elected a new slate of officers for the association. Elected to take the position of Commodore was Duane Hagadone. Supporting him as the newly elected race chairman was Carter Crimp. Ken Campbell joined the two as treasurer, while Ken McEuen stayed on as secretary and Norris Benson took over as vice commodore.
Less than a month later, the CUHA was rocked by the death of Ken McEuen. The association secretary and local grocer had suddenly taken ill and was transported to a Spokane hospital for treatment. He passed away on the day of his fifteenth wedding anniversary to wife Gloria.
Lee Brack attended the annual American Power Boat Association meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He returned from the meeting with news that several of the race sponsors had formed a group, Sponsors Unlimited, to represent their interests.
The APBA had also gone on record as favoring a nine-race season with four races in the west region and four races in the east region and the Gold Cup on Lake Mead in Nevada.
The health problems that had arisen for Maverick owner W.T. Waggoner led to his decision to retire from racing and to sell the boat. Upon hearing of Waggoner’s decision, driver Bill Stead decided to announce his retirement from racing as well.
At the spring meeting of the APBA, Coeur d’Alene was granted the dates of July 23 and 24 for the third annual Diamond Cup. There were no conflicting races on the schedule, so the door was open for good representation from both the eastern and western boat camps. There was reason for optimism that the field for the 1960 race would be a quality field with many boats.
Of course, that optimism was quickly dashed by news reports out of Seattle that some of the eastern boat teams didn’t want to race on the western “millponds” such as Coeur d’Alene. News was also received that the APBA had adjusted their schedule, positioning an exhibition race at St. Clair, Michigan on the same weekend as the Diamond Cup.
The immediate impact was that the eastern contingent would have to make a choice where one was not previously required. While the exhibition offered no national championship points, it did offer bonus points for those considering participation in the Harmsworth Trophy international competition.
Under the Harmsworth rules, the U.S. representative had to be powered by an American designed and manufactured engine. The Allison V-12 was the most powerful engine available to American contingent, and it was thus the predominant engine choice of the eastern contingent as well. The late move to approve the St. Clair sanction almost guaranteed that there would be no eastern boats in the pits for Coeur d’Alene’s race.
The Diamond Cup committee was incensed by the move. This was reflected in Commodore Duane Hagadone’s comments to the press:
“We were very unhappy when we learned of the conflicting dates,” Hagadone said. “We’ve protested to Jim Spinner, the APBA secretary in Seattle, and he passed the complaint along to George Trimper (the commissioner of the APBA), but Trimper assured us it wouldn’t affect our race. If we find it will keep some Eastern boats away from our race, we’ll be pretty disturbed.”
On top of this turn of events, Lee Schoenith of Detroit’s Gale Enterprises threw fuel on the fire by announcing his intention to race in only two of the western races – Reno and Las Vegas. Citing a cut in the prize money offered, he indicated that he would not bring his Gale boats to Seattle, and that he had no intention of going to Coeur d’Alene. He told a Seattle reporter that he wouldn’t travel if it was going to cost his team money.
In the midst of all the negative news, preparations continued for the June race, and boats continued to add their names to the Diamond Cup entry roster. For example, it was announced that Miss Seattle Too team had entered, and that they would employ two drivers for the race.
According to the plan, Norm Evans and Dallas Sartz would split the driving duties. Evans would be at the wheel on Saturday and Sartz would take over on Sunday. The move was necessitated by the fact that Evans was also in the employ of Samual F. DuPont and was scheduled to drive DuPont’s Nitrogen on Sunday in the St. Clari exhibition.
Perhaps to sweeten the pot for potential entries (and perhaps respond to Schoenith’s money comments), it was rumored that the Diamond Cup committee was considering an offer of $400 to any boat answering the starting gun in the Coeur d’Alene race.
First into the pit area on Monday morning of race were Miss Spokane and $ Bill. They took what would become their customary positions at the southern most end of the pits, and spent the day preparing the boats for Tuesday’s testing and qualifying.
As the two teams sweltered in the 101 degree afternoon temperature along the seawall, the Coeur d’Alene Unlimited Hydroplane Association (CUHA) was forced to deal with reports out of Seattle that two of the western boat teams were considering not traveling to the Lake City as previously planned. Like the Detroit teams, they were using money as their reason for staying away.
Seattle hydro owners Bob Gilliam and Bob Miller said they would be keeping their boats home (the Fascination team and Miss B & I respectively) unless the CUHA provided more money. Gilliam said he could make more money staying home and participating in the Seattle race than he would by traveling to Coeur d’Alene.
Initially, the CUHA refused to capitulate to Gilliam and Miller’s demands, but it appeared that the “show me the money” spirit was spreading fast.
Tuesday brought a 101-degree high. In the morning hours, the Dean Edwards barge construction team towed the brand new floating barge into place south of Corbin Point with no time to spare. The new barge location would allow for a longer straightway heading into turn one, and it was hoped that this would make the course safer at the start of each heat.
Just barely beating the clock, the racecourse, the pit area, and the official barge were ready when the noon opening time for the course occurred.
First on the course to test at noon was Ray Crawford in $ Bill. The objective of the time the team took on the water was to evaluate the new engine configuration they had worked on during the off-season after failing to qualify in 1959.
Unfortunately, the “gas pains” that had plagued the boats fuel injection system on the $ Bill had returned. The team corrected that issue, but when Crawford returned to the course, he felt a vibration in the stern area and was sprayed with gas and oil from a broken line, so he shut the boat down and brought it back to the pits for more attention.
During the day, Glen and Milo Stoen’s Miss Seattle Too arrived in the pits. The former Miss Pay n’Save’s had been repainted with a bright red and white-checkered tail, which contrasted well with its deep mahogany decking.
Miss Spokane put two hours of testing time on one of its engines. Lap times averaged between 100 and 105 mph, and the one timed lap that Rex Manchester posted was a respectable 103.664.
Jack Regas appeared in the Diamond Cup pits nearly a year to the day after he was seriously injured in the ’59 race. Regas and his brother had traveled from his home near San Francisco on the recommendation of his doctor. The doctor had hoped a visit to Coeur d’Alene would help the former Miss Bardahl driver remember the incident and other things that had wiped from the driver’s memory.
“I came up to see if I could remember things,” said Regas. “My memory is real bad. I just can’t remember things. I can’t even remember driving the Bardahl at all.
In my interview with Jack’s daughter Sharon in 2012, she said that the trip north to Coeur d’Alene had no affect on filling in the blanks of his memory concerning driving the Bardahl or the accident. To this day, that portion of his memory is totally gone.
During the day on Tuesday, the Diamond Cup Committee announced that they would be offering $200 in “towing money” to any boat that successfully crossed the start line in a heat of racing. The gesture appeared to be aimed at Bob Gilliam and Bob Miller’s demands for appearance money, since the spokesman for the committee said it would likely help some of the smaller boat teams that had difficulty getting to some of the race sites because of the expense involved.
Wednesday dawned with no relief in sight from the heat. The mercury again hovered near 100 degrees as the teams continued to arrive in town. Miss Thriftway and Miss Bardahl slipped into their places along the pit wall and set up shop.
Miss Seattle Too picked up the fast lap money for the day with a hot circuit of the course at 108.810 with Dallas Sartz at the wheel. A blown oil plug aborted another timed run that came in at around 105 mph.
Miss Spokane and $ Bill also put in time on the water. The carburation issues appeared to be fully corrected for the $ Bill as it had a timed lap of 104.663 mph.
The temperatures cooled a few degrees, but stayed in the low nineties as Thursday’s qualifying and testing got under way. Jim McGuire put time on Miss Bardahl’s engine as the rookie drive got used to the course for the first time.
Thursday’s hot lap money went to Norm Evans and the Miss Seattle Too team when he blistered the course with a 115.106 mph run in the late afternoon. Just as the boat crossed the finish line of the time lap, a gear let go on the boat’s quill shaft, and a patrol boat had to tow Evans and the boat back to the pits.
Dallas Sartz also had timed laps in the Seattle Too of 110 and 112 during the day.
Hawaii Kai arrived during the morning to bring the field of boats on hand to six. Tool Crib joined the field later in the day when it pulled through the Third Street gate.
On the water, Jim McGuire took Miss Bardahl for a lap of 102.273 mph, and Bill Muncey cruised to circuits of 103.032 and 104.651. Hawaii Kai managed only 81.818 mph with crewman Burns Smith driving. When he returned to the pits, it was discovered that the Pink Lady had a severely damaged prop that affected its speed.
|Hawaii Kai is lowered into the water in preparation for a testing run during the 1960 race week.|
Museum of North Idaho Photo
On Friday, the temperature stayed in the low 90s for a second day in a row, and continued hot weather was predicted to stay in place for race weekend.
When the course opened for the day, $ Bill, Tool Crib, and KOL-roy had still not met the minimum qualifying speed, and $ Bill’s Ray Crawford and Tool Crib’s Del Fanning still needed to pass their driver qualification tests.
Bob Gilliam’s KOL-roy and KOL-roy 1 had joined the field overnight. Bob Larsen took the KOL-roy onto the course, but carburation problems kept the speeds well below the qualifying minimum. Gilliam later blamed an oversized propeller, fouled spark plugs, and too lean a fuel mixture for the problems.
Bill Schuyler’s team celebrated the qualification of the $ Bill. Ray Crawford put the boat solidly in the race with an average speed of 95.745 mph.
Bob Miller cruised into the pits shortly before noon with his Miss Everett to become the last of the scheduled entries to make it into the pit area for the race. It was then that it was discovered that the boat had a cracked strut and a bent shaft. The damage had apparently occurred during last minute testing in Seattle.
It was rumored that the Everett probably wouldn’t be ready until the first heat on Saturday, if it raced at all. Ironically, this meant that Miller would not likely be able to collect the promised $200 in tow money that he had demanded of the race sponsors.
Chuck Hickling put Miss Burien in the race with a respectable speed of 104.854 mph. Bill Muncey upped his best lap speed in the Miss Thriftway to 106.094, while Jim McGuire struggled to get the Miss Bardahl up to speed.
Friday’s best time went to Rex Manchester and Miss Spokane with a lap of 109.765 in choppy conditions. The time just narrowly surpassed Miss Seattle Too’s hottest lap of 109.533 with Norm Evans driving.
Rookie Del Fanning had difficulty starting Tool Crib. A stack fire erupted as he attempted to pull away from the dock during his first time in the cockpit. Later in the day, he made a second attempt to qualify, but his best lap time was 83.333 mph. He cut the run short when he received a hot oil bath when an oil line tore loose covering him with the hot liquid. The team failed to fix the problem before the course closed for the day.
The drivers and owners meeting took place at 7 p.m. Friday evening at the Coeur d’Alene Park and Recreation office. The office was located at the foot of Fourth Street near the pit area.
The luck of the draw put the two fastest boats in the same section. The Heat 1-A draw placed Miss Spokane in with the week’s other hot boat, Miss Seattle Too, along with $ Bill, KOL-Roy 1, and Miss Everett.
The draw for Heat 1B had good possibilities as well, with Miss Thriftway squaring off against Hawaii Kai, Miss Bardahl, and Miss Burien. With the strong pedigrees of the four boats in this section, it was anticipated that competition could be hot and heavy.
Two boats had remained unqualified when the course closed on Friday – Tool Crib and KOL-roy. Race officials ruled that they would to be given another opportunity between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday to make the minimum speed.
If either or both of them made the field, they would be added to the first section of heats in the order that they qualified. The order would be reversed only if the KOL-roy and KOL-roy 1 ended up in the same heat, since two boats from the same camp could not compete in the same heat of racing.
Drivers and owners were also reminded of the recently passed rule change that allowed them to change engines at any time during the two-day competition. The rule change had been made at the APBA annual meeting in Milwaukee after being a major topic of conversation after the ’59 Diamond Cup when the Miss Pay n’ Save and Coral Reef were beached for most of the day because of the previous no engine change rule.
The draw had been made and the time had come to race. Would the 1960 be a repeat of the chaos of ’59 or would this be the best race ever? Race organizers were lobbying for the latter.
|Jim McGuire accelerate Miss Bardahl out of the pit area as Ray Crawford enters the north turn with $ Bill during testing.|
Museum of North Idaho Photo
NEXT INSTALLMENT: The Third Time Is The Charm – the 1960 Diamond Cup race.
PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT: The Bardahl Controversy and the Decision on a Third Installment
Coeur d'Alene Hydromaniacs
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013
There was no doubt that the crowd for Diamond Cup weekend was record setting. The Coeur d’Alene Press estimated the crowd at 100,000, but other estimates put Sunday’s throng at closer to 60,000 to 80,000 spectators.
Law enforcement reported that despite the size of the crowd that it was extremely well behaved. A minimal number of arrests were made, and the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves.
The city’s merchants reported excellent retail sales during race weekend. Many also said the bump in sales carried over into the week that followed the race. Total sales for the week of the race were estimated at $350,000 over a comparable sales period. Also noted by the merchants was an increase in sales to our neighbors north of the border with many Canadian dollars finding their way into local cash registers.
The badly damaged Miss Burien was recovered late Monday afternoon from an estimated eighty-two feet of water. A diving crew headed by Loren “Skip” Murphy had located the wreckage in murky water with a visibility factor of only seven feet. They struggled through the day to bring the larger pieces of the boat to the surface where they were placed on Fred Murphy’s barge for transport back to the pits.
The boat was declared a total wreck with the only usable part to survive the wreck being the Burien’s big Allison V-12. The crew had checked it out at John Pointner’s welding shop before trucking what was left of the boat back to the Seattle area.
|What is left of Miss Burien sits on the trailer awaiting its return to Seattle after the 1959 accident.|
Used with the permission of the Crimmin Project - high resolution versions can be purchased by contacting Ned Crimmin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also on Monday, the Coeur d’Alene Unlimited Hydroplane Association reported that they had decided to move forward with plans for a third annual Diamond Cup race. The crowds on Saturday and Sunday had helped the committee raise the $15,000 needed to balance the association’s budget.
The races were also considered an artistic success with the drivers, owner, spectators, and media expressing their pleasure with the officiating, facilities, and racing during the weekend. To celebrate the success, the CUHA hosted a “victory dinner” on June 29th to honor the many volunteers that had planned and worked on the race.
After the dinner, the CUHA elected a new slate of officers. Replacing John S. Richards as commodore was the young Coeur d’Alene Press publisher Duane Hagadone. Joining him on the executive board were Norris Benson as vice commodore, Ken Campbell as treasurer, and Ken McEuen as secretary.
During the meeting, Richards displayed a tray containing the $9,000 promissory note that had been signed by members of the previous year’s Diamond Cup board in order to keep the race effort afloat. He then had Duane Hagadone (representing his father Burl), Don MacDonald, Ben Pederson, Ken McEuen, Norris Benson, Carl Gridley, Bill Webster, Arnold Porter, and Doug Downing join him in burning the note, signifying that the debt had been repaid from the receipts of the ’59 race.
Despite all of the positive news, there was one owner that was far from pleased with the outcome of the weekend.
|A view of the Miss Bardahl Cockpit after it was towed back to the pit area following the injury to Jack Regas|
Coeur d’Alene Press Photo
Lost in the reports of record crowds, strong retail sales, and the race committee’s strong sense of accomplishment was a statement issued by Ole Bardahl shortly after race concluded. With controlled emotion, the owner of the badly damaged Miss Bardahl announced that he would be selling his boat and that it was his intention to leave the sport.
“I don’t want to race anymore,” an emotional Bardahl was quoted as saying. “Not with Jackie (Regas) or any other driver lying there like that as a result of this sport. The only thing that matters now is Jack’s return to health.”
By the time he returned home, his stance on selling the boat had softened a bit, but his statement to the Seattle press revealed that he was deeply angry about the rules of the sport and its leadership.
Charging that there was “more squabbling than racing” in most unlimited contests, he said that he wouldn’t race his boat again until the “unnecessary hazards…and needless bickering are removed.” He indicated that the decision to sell or retire the boat was based on “the conditions which I think brought on that accident.”
“The possibility of an accident is heightened,” he said in a prepared statement, “by the mismanagement of a few selfish non-racers and hangers-on interested in self-aggrandizement and personal profit.”
Bardahl refused to accuse anyone by name. He did urge that “any individual who profits monetarily from a race, directly or indirectly,” be prohibited from serving in any capacity with the American Power Boat Association or as a regatta official.
“The owners and drivers who take all the risk and spend all the money are at the mercy of the whims of the few who govern the sport for their personal gain or glory,” he said. “Unlimited racing needs a drastic housecleaning.”
The owner also criticized the safety efforts found in hydro racing, saying that “it is a full lap or more before aid is even sent to a stricken driver…and often is in the form of equipment unable to rush a driver to medical attention or save a boat from needless sinking.”
Bardahl further suggested that rules should be written specifically for unlimited racing, with enforcements through fines or suspensions; sanctions should be refused for races where adequate safety precautions are not taken; drivers should be screened “for personal attributes and desirability as well as driving skill.”
The CUHA quickly responded to Bardahl’s charges. Speaking through former Commodore John S. Richards, the association took the position that the race had been conducted under maximum safety regulations. They also defended the race officials and U.S. Coast Guard for the manner in which they conducted the race.
Richards recounted the response times for the two injury accidents, making the case that the time involved was reasonable given the seriousness of the accidents. He also agreed with Bardahl’s call for reform in the sport, and expressed the association’s call for greater sponsor representation on the board of directors of the American Power Boat Association.
“It is always unfortunate when accidents occur in any sport, Richards said. “We must recognize that they do, despite all the precautions and safeguards that can be taken.”
“In this instance, the Coeur d’Alene Unlimited Hydroplane Association feels every precaution and safeguard was taken and feels that the race, as it was conducted by Stanley Donogh and Commander Weston left nothing to be desired.”
Bardahl had called by standardization of officials at every race so that the rules were enforced the same at every race. He charged that different officials and different sponsors changed the rules and safety precautions from race to race. He alleged that this lack of familiarity with race problems led to unnecessary risk.
While he didn’t point the finger at any specific driver (or drivers) for their recklessness, he did say that there were drivers who did such things as “habitually cutting off other boats and failing to signify well-being after a minor mishap.”
Since Miss Bardahl’s driver, Jack Regas, was attempting to cut inside of Norm Evans and Miss Spokane at the time according to media reports of the accident, it appears that Bardahl may have been pointing in Evans direction, indirectly blaming his driving for the crash. Add to this Evans’ behavior after his own crash, and it becomes obvious that he was likely taking the locally sponsored Spokane boat and driver to task through his comments.
It didn’t take long for the APBA to respond to Bardahl’s statements. Without mentioning Bardahl by name, the group announced strict rules of course patrol and safety for the Gold Cup two weeks after the Diamond Cup. The Coast Guard was given direct responsibility for supervising the program, and the guidelines stated that inside the course there would be three boats provided with water pumps, skin divers, and rags. In addition to the three boats, the rules demanded the presence of a fleet of safety boats outfitted with stretchers, fire-fighting equipment, smoke bombs as warning signals, and two-way radio or telephone communication with patrol officials. (The rags were to be used to quickly patch holes in damage boats to keep them from sinking.)
It appeared that the APBA had received Ole Bardahl’s message, and had responded appropriately.
|Jack Regas (in life vest) and Ole Bardahl (with binoculars) discuss a test run prior to the 1959 Diamond Cup race.|
Museum of North Idaho Photo
Regas meanwhile remained in a coma for the first three days after the race. By Wednesday, he was reported as semi-conscious. By Friday he came completely out of the coma briefly and his first words were to request a sandwich from the nursing staff. He also spoke briefly with Bardahl crew chief George McKernon and recognized his wife. He held her hand but didn’t speak to her.
By August 6th Regas had improved enough that he could be transported from Coeur d’Alene by chartered plane to the San Francisco area nearer his home in Oakland, California.
On August 7th, Regas underwent delicate brain surgery at the University of California hospital to remove fluid from around his brain. The surgery lasted four hours and was termed a success.
Eventually, Jack Regas would recover enough to leave the hospital and return home, but the long-term effects of the accident would be profound.
Jack’s once pleasant and outgoing personality changed. According to his daughter, Sharon Barousa, he became a different person emotionally, and the change deeply affected his relationships with others and his ability to work. It would eventually lead to the dissolution of his marriage.
The personality change and his cognitive issues from the accident also made it impossible for Regas to deal with the stress of the world of work, so he has been the recipient of disability benefits since the late 1960’s and has not worked at gainful employment since that time.
When I interviewed Sharon in 2012, she shared with me that he still has no memory of the accident or of his many successes before that day in Coeur d’Alene. He knows that he did something special because of the way people treat him today, but he has no memory of that time to speak of at all.
Today, he lives with Sharon in Nampa, Idaho, and just turned ninety years of age. He has taken up residence in a trailer adjacent to her home, and she has become his guardian and best friend. On occasion, she has taken him to the vintage events in Seattle and the Tri-Cities where he has enjoyed the admiration of his many fans including the elite of today’s hydroplane drivers. While he doesn’t know why, he is comforted that he had an impact on the sport that changed his life forever.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: More Change Comes to the Sport and Preparations Begin for a Third Annual Diamond Cup
PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT: Attrition and Survival of the Fittest
Coeur d'Alene Hydromaniacs
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013
There were several intriguing story lines to follow going into race weekend in 1959. Would W.T. Waggoner’s Maverick be able to defend its 1958 Diamond Cup championship? Would Miss Bardahl be able to win its second straight race of the 1959 season? Would Norm Evans be able to secure a win with the local favorite, Miss Spokane? Could Bill Muncey overcome his bad luck streak in the Diamond Cup and see success with Miss Thriftway.
Although one of the story lines would actually play itself out, little did anyone know that the main storyline would be attrition and survival. By the end of the weekend, the big bad lake would take its share of victims…and only the strong would survive.
Saturday of race weekend dawned with clear skies and rising temperatures. The predicted high had the temperature soaring past ninety degrees. In contrast to the previous year, the weather was trending towards great and the winds were minimal.
With the good weather, the fans arrived in droves. Local law enforcement estimated that the crowd on Saturday was nearly four times that watched the ’58 race. To underscore the crowd estimate, virtually all hotel and motel rooms had been rented for the night. Hydromania had broken out in all its glory.
When the course opened for testing, both $ Bill and KOL-roy 1 made qualifying attempts. Ray Crawford did break the 90 mph barrier with Bill Schuyler’s boat, but the time was taken down because the boat was on the course before the time set aside for qualifying. He made a second attempt with the $ Bill, but fell short of the benchmark speed. KOL-roy 1 didn’t even come close, so both boats spent the weekend on tilt in the pits.
All five boats made it to the start of the first section of racing, but Jack Regas in Miss Bardahl and Bill Muncey in Miss Thriftway maneuvered themselves into position to a slight advantage as the boats crossed the starting line. By the time the two lead boats had made it to the turn, Regas had built a small lead.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Bardahl hooked as it slid through the top of the turn. Regas regained control, but Muncey saw his opportunity and took it. By the end of lap one, Miss Thriftway had built a healthy four-second lead over Regas and Miss Bardahl. Norm Evans and Miss Spokane was trailing a full ten seconds behind the leaders, and Pay n’ Save and Nitrogen were not even in the picture.
For the next two laps, Muncey maintained the four second differential. As the boats moved through the north turn on lap four, things quickly changed. Suddenly, Regas found power from someplace deep in the Miss Bardahl’s Rolls-Merlin engine and the Green Dragon was suddenly on Muncey’s hip through the south turn.
Calling on his myriad of racing skills, Muncey kept Regas at bay for all of lap four. Regas countered his every move, but the margin seemed to stay within 100 feet through three-fourths of lap five.
As the duo hit the exit pin on the fifth circuit of the course, Regas suddenly found another burst of speed. With the crowd on their feet the two charged for the finish line. Miss Bardahl closed the narrow gap, but Muncey crossed the finish line with the Thriftway in first with a scant fifty-foot win.
The gap at the finish was only four-tenths of a second representing a .277 of a mile per hour. It would be one of the closest races on record.
As Heat 1-B got underway, Miss U.S. 1, Hawaii Kai, and Maverick came to the start line deck to deck. As soon as the boats crossed the line, the complexion of the race changed suddenly, and it became a parade of boats for the remainder of the heat with Bill Stead and Maverick in full control.
From the first to fifth lap, Stead built what would become a six hundred yard lead over his closest challenger, Don Wilson and Miss U.S. 1. Bill Brow in the Miss Burien and KOL-roy followed them across the line a good deal later. Hawaii Kai broke down in the middle of the first turn and Bryan Wygle found himself watching the action from the infield of the course. Coral Reef failed to complete even one lap.
Maverick’s owner W.T. Waggoner was not present to enjoy Stead’s easy heat victory. He had taken ill earlier in the day and was immediately flown to Phoenix for treatment aboard his private plane. The report out of Arizona Saturday evening had him in critical condition.
The first estimates of the Saturday’s crowd placed the number at 40,000 to 60,000 people. Despite the huge crowd, law enforcement reported no untoward incidents in the Lake City overnight.
The weather stayed warm overnight, and Sunday brought temperatures soaring to near triple digits. The continued hot weather brought even more spectators to the lake and early estimates put the crowd above the number present the day before.
The heat draw appeared to favor Miss Thriftway as the listing for the second sections of racing were announced. Bill Muncey was set to face Miss U.S. 1, Hawaii Kai, Coral Reef, and Miss Pay n’ Save in Heat 2-B, and the white and orange boat appeared to have the edge on all of those hulls.
Heat 2-A appeared less predictable, as Maverick and Bardahl posed the potential for a major battle. Joining them were the very competitive Miss Spokane and Miss Burien, as well as the off-times unpredictable KOL-roy and Nitrogen teams.
The first instance of the effects of attrition came with the announcement that Mira Slovak would replace Chuck Hickling in the Miss Pay n’ Save. Hickling had hit a roller during Saturday’s racing and had been thrown into the dashboard of the boat when it suddenly hooked sideways. A doctor’s report later indicated that he had suffered severe bruises and torn ligaments in one of his knees.
Variable winds from the south and rogue wave action from the log boom on the south end of the course formed deep rollers on the southeast corner of the racecourse.
Despite the deteriorating water conditions at both ends of the course, Bill Stead and Maverick started off where they left the day before – out in front and leading the parade. Taking the lead on the back straight from a surprisingly strong Miss Spokane, Stead built a small lead going into lap two.
Enjoying cleaner water out front, Stead built on his lead. Behind him, conditions were not so good for his competition. As Bill Brow brought Miss Burien through the south turn behind the two lead boats, the deep swells took their first victim of the day. Hit a crosswise roller, Brow suddenly went airborne, nearly fifty feet in the air according to some witnesses. The boat then flipped over as it caught air and descended back to the water nose first.
The impact with the water disintegrated nearly the entire left side of the boat, tearing away the decking and destroying the stringers and other internal structures of the boat.
Brow was thrown clear of the accident and Bob Larson in the KOL-roy saw him lying amid the rapidly sinking wreckage. Larson quickly shut down his boat and helped the rescue patrol boat personnel pull Brow from the water. Reports indicate that it took only thirty-nine seconds for the rescue to be completed.
Surprisingly, Brow was relatively unhurt. He was taken to Lake City General Hospital where doctors diagnosed him as suffering from shock and deep bruising.
The race was delayed nearly an hour as the course was clear of what little remained of the Miss Burien hull.
In one of the most exciting starts, all four boats making the start for Heat 2-B roared across the start line in a deck-to-deck line with Bryan Wygle and Hawaii Kai leading by only a foot or two. From there to the exit pin of lap one, it was all Hawaii Kai as the Pink Lady posted a blistering 115.632 circuit of the course to blow the competition away.
Trailing by some distance was Bill Muncey and Miss Thriftway and the rest of the field. Miss U.S. 1 failed to start and Don Wilson watched the race from the dock in the pit area.
As Miss Pay n’ Save slid through the south turn on the first circuit of the course, the rogue water took its second victim. Hooking a sponson in the rough water where Miss Burien had flipped, Pay n’ Save spun around, and went dead in the water. Driver Mira Slovak was tossed about in the cockpit, but managed to stay in the boat. He restarted the engine, but with the spin went any chance of the boat making the final heat.
Hawaii Kai went on to win with a speed of 105.017 mph for the five laps. He was followed distantly by Miss Thriftway, Coral Reef, and Miss Pay n’ Save.
Heat 2-A (Rerun)
Don Dunnington brought the bright blue and yellow Nitrogen across the line in first place to start the rerun of Heat 2-A. Trailing him were Maverick, Miss Bardahl, and Miss Spokane in that order.
The first turn was about as far as Dunnington was able to maintain the lead before Maverick asserted itself and moved into the lead. By the end of lap two, Norm Evans had also moved Miss Spokane past the faltering Delaware boat into second.
Trailing Miss Spokane and charging were Jack Regas and Miss Bardahl. As he neared the south turn at the end of lap two, Regas closed the gap significantly. Evans had the inside lane, but Regas made a move to take the inside away as the two boats started to power slide around the buoy line.
As he made the move, Regas and the Bardahl appeared to hit the wake of one of the lead boats or perhaps hit another of the rogue rollers lurking in that part of the turn. Whatever the cause, Miss Bardahl rose from the water an estimated twenty feet in the air at which point gravity took over and the boat slammed back into the water nose first at roughly 130 mph.
The hydraulic force of tons of water drove the bottom of the boat up and through the firewall and cockpit, throwing the instrument panel and the steering wheel into the upper body and face of Jack Regas. The force was equivalent of the full weight of the boat (6,100 lbs.) being doubled back directly on the driver.
Regas lay motionless in the boat’s cockpit when the spray settled from the accident. He was taken from the boat, placed on oxygen, and transported directly to Lake City General. The record shows that he suffered three broken ribs, a broken right hand, cuts, bruises, and a badly sprained leg in addition to the skull fracture. He was unconscious and stayed in a coma for nearly a month.
That Regas was alive surprised many who saw the condition of the cockpit when the boat was returned to the pits. The steering wheel was disfigured from its impact with Regas’ body and the hold he put on it to stay in the boat. A gaping hole replaced where the left sponson once had been.
Since Maverick had completed lap three when the flares ended the heat, Bill Stead secured his second win of the weekend. His average for the three laps was 107.290 mph. Evans and Miss Spokane placed second a few seconds back. Nitrogen and KOL-roy took the third and fourth place spots.
|Miss Spokane and Nitrogen prepare to leave the dock for the 1959 final as Hawaii Kai is lowered into the water.|
Kyle Walker Collection
By the time the field was set for the final heat, attrition had taken a tremendous toll. As stated earlier only the strong survived. The waves had whittled the original eleven boats down to a precious few.
Topping the list of survivors was Bill Stead and Maverick with 800 points from two heat wins. Bill Muncey and Miss Thriftway were not far off the pace with 700 points. Also in the hunt were Hawaii Kai (625), Nitrogen(531), Miss Spokane (525), and KOL-roy 1 (465).
Norm Evans miscalculated a bit and found himself trailing Maverick, Miss Thriftway, and Hawaii Kai across the start line. The three leaders roared side by side down the front chute and well into turn one, but as the boats emerged from the wall of spray at the back side of the turn, the mahogany and lilac Miss Spokane suddenly appeared in the lead.
Evans built a two and one-half second margin over Muncey and Thriftway by the end of lap two. Stead and Maverick were another one and one-half seconds further back. The lead grew even further after three.
It looked like the local boat would win the heat if not the race if Evans could hold the lead for the remaining two laps. Evans continued to charge, but disaster struck as he entered the north turn near Playland Pier on the site of what is now Independence Point.
Suddenly the Miss Spokane bounced crazily, twisted to one side, and dug the right sponson into the lake. The boat suddenly hooked to the left causing it to spin, and as it did so Evans was thrown ahead of the careening hull into the water. He landed several yards away from boat and as the boat spun a second time it nearly hit Evans where he lay in the water.
|The spray begins to fly as Miss Spokane digs its right sponson in, throwing Norm Evans into the water.|
Photo used with permission of the Bob Carver family
As the flares flew to end the race, the coast guard patrol and Bryan Wygle in Hawaii Kai approached the scene to help Evans. Suddenly he swam to the boat where it had come to a rest nearby and climbed up on the deck. He collected himself for a few moments, and then shocked everyone by climbing back in the cockpit to attempt to restart the boat.
Rescue crews took Evans back to the pits to be evaluated by medical personnel. He was treated for several facial cuts, but was otherwise uninjured. As the medical staff attended to him, Evans yelled over his shoulder to the Miss Spokane crew: “Get it ready to run! It’s alright!”
The race was over, however, and there would be no restart. Miss Spokane was disqualified because Norm’s abrupt exit from the boat had caused a race stoppage. When he failed to signal immediately he was all right, the corner judge fired a flare in the interest of his safety.
As the leader, Miss Spokane had completed three laps, so the race was deemed official at the time of the stoppage. Placing first in the final was Bill Muncey and Miss Thriftway because of his position when the Miss Spokane was disqualified. Bill Stead and Maverick placed second, leaving the Thriftway and Maverick tied with 1100 points for the race.
Race officials then set about implementing the tiebreaker rules. The first such rule was based on the total elapsed time for the race. The total elapsed times for each boat were also incredibly close with the Maverick having a total time of 25:42.6 and the Thriftway 25:44.4 - a paper-thin 1.4 seconds separating the two. Their average speeds were also close with Maverick averaging 105.058 mph for the three heats, and Miss Thriftway averaging 104.922.
The Maverick was thus declared the winner for 1959 by a margin of .136 miles per hour. Bill Stead had edged his rival by scarcely a boat length after the forty-five miles of competition in the closest Diamond Cup ever run.
New course records were set during the race. Stead drove the Maverick to a new forty-five mile race record of 105.057 and a new heat record at 107.290. The Hawaii Kai set a new single lap course record of 115.632 during Heat 2-B.
Stead had proved himself to be the fittest of the remaining fleet, and in so doing he had secured his second straight win in the Diamond Cup. The celebration back in the pits was relatively subdued, however. With two driver’s hospitalized, everyone’s mind was on the well being of the injured. There would be time to celebrate at some later time.
Miss Burien was brought up from the bottom of the lake on the Monday after the race. The Coeur d’Alene Press published a report of divers Loren “Skip” Murphy, Graydon Johnson, Dick Williams, and Dan Donaldson assisting with the recovery of the hull from a depth of 82 feet. The team used Fred Murphy’s pile driver and crane apparatus to lift the various parts of the boat off the lake bottom.
Late in the evening the recovery was complete, and what was left of the boat was placed on its trailer for the return trip to Seattle. In the end, only the Burien’s engine proved to be salvageable.
And so the story of the 1959 race came to a close. It would prove to be the most dangerous of the Diamond Cup series. In five separate incidents, five drivers were treated for injuries, and two of those were serious enough to be hospitalized. The water of the big lake was unforgiving, and the attrition was as extremely high.
The race was also one of the most competitive with many deck-to-deck battles and the race winner determined by an eyelash in time. The race had attracted a record crowd to the shores of the lake. To most it would be remembered as one of the best shows ever.
Would the fan interest and resultant revenue be enough to bring the race back for a third year? It was time once again for the Coeur d’Alene Unlimited Hydroplane Association to reflect on the bottom line and assess the potential for the future.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: The Bardahl Controversy and the Decision on a Third Installment
PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT: DIAMOND CUP WEEK ’59 AND MORE…
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