Saturday, August 17, 2013
HYDROMANIA: THE THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM – THE 1960 DIAMOND CUP RACE.
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.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: What if we held a race and nobody came?
PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT: More change comes to the sport and preparations begin for a third annual Diamond Cup
Coeur d'Alene Hydromaniacs
Post comments or questions below, or follow Diamond Cup Hydromaniacs on Facebook