Altas Van Lines, driven by crafty Bill Muncey, captured the unlimited thunderboat final of the President's Cup Regatta yesterday at Haines Point.
Muncey, in his new overcab-designed hydroplane, played the role of the fox as he gunned his engine during the race's running start and appeared to be trying to beat his chief competitor Miss Budweiser and pilot Mickey Remund to the starting line.
At last instant, Muncey backed off, but Remund didn't. Renund beat the starting signal by almost two boat lenghts and was penalized an extra lap. His overanxiousness, apperently cost him the race as he took a huge lead over the five-boat only to have to do an extra lap.
Pilots of the thunderboat the largest and most powerful racing boats in the world, attempt to outpsych one another as the starting clock winds down and a small cannon fires to start the race. The boats begin sprinting toward the line in an attempt to hit at the exact instant the flag drops.
Muncey's tactics earned him his sixth cup here and the biggest shares of the $30,000 prize money.
Atlas Van Lines finished the 2 1/2-miles course on the Potomac River in 7:02.6 while averaging 101.695 miles per hour.
Anheuser Buseh Natural Light with Tom Sheehy aboard was second. He completed the course in 7:37.0 and averaged 98.468 m.p.h.
U-7 driven by Ron Snyder was third followed by Miss Busweiser and Miss Madison.
"It was busy in there, really crowded at the smiling Remund. "I was a little back going into the start but I saw a very small opening in lane one and I took it. I felt I had jumped the gun but I wasn't sure."
Chief referee Bill Newton said there was no question that Remund had beaten the starting signal.
"It looked like just as Muncey gunned his boat. Mickey went with him. Just at that moment, Muncey backed off and Mickey kept going," said Newton.
"I think Muncey just outfoxed him. I've called over 700 heats of races and I think I'm qualified to call them by eye. It was a decision to be made and I made it."
Muncey, the leading driver in powerbaot history (40 career wins) laughed when he was asked if he did indeed outfox his top competitor for the second straight week. Atlas Van Lines outdueled Miss Budweiser last week in Miami to win the Sparkplug Regatta. "I can't explain it," laughed Muncey while drinking a beer. "Tactically I was excellent, but I knew Micky was too far over. Muncey completed the course in 7:02.6 for an average of 106.585 m.p.h.
"Starts are extremely crucial in these races. The boat crept to a halt going into second lap. He was the t can't make any errors."
Muncey watched Miss Budweiser roar away from the field at the onset but made sure he kept Natural Light and D-7 well battled it out for second place as they repeatdly changed places on the straightaways.
Muncey's Rolls Royce-powered machine and Miss Budweiser delighted the throng of approximately 60,000 in their heats. Remund drove his boat to a heat record for the course with an average of 112.782 m.p.h. The old mark was 112.052, set in 1975 by Bill Schumacher driving a Weisfield.
Muncey stole the inside lane in his beat and bolted to a three-quarter-mile victory. He averaged 111.221 m.p.h.
For the second straight year Jerry Bangs aboard Miss Esquire Products suffered engine problems and was forced to withdraw.
Running in the heat with Miss Budweiser and Mr. Fabricator, Bang's turbine charger blew out and the boat cretp to a halt going into second lap. He was the only driver to fail to qualify yesterday for the finals.
"We weren't running to win, we just wanted to qualify for the final," said a remorseful Bangs. "We were running easy, 125, until she blew. But we're out now."
The other unlimited entry, Miss Madison, finished last in the finals.
The Atlas Van Lines victory lifted her into the top spot in the boat standings with 2,125 points. Miss Budweiser stands second with 2,069. CAPTION:
Picture 1, Mickey Remund in Miss Budweiser was penalized for early start.; Picture 2, Bill Muncey waves to crowd from his unique seat in Atlas Van Lines. Muncey averaged 101.695 m.p.h. in winning President's Cup Regatta.; Photos by Larry Morris - The Washington Post; Picture 3, Bill Muncey sences victory as he guns engine on Atlas Van Lines down stretch. By Larry Morris - The Washington Post