1964 Diamond Cup
Lake Coeur d'Alene, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, August 1-2, 1964
Miss ExideWins Diamond Cup
A diamond trophy cup plus $2,000 went to Miss Exide which fought off a hard challenge by Miss Bardahl to win the seventh annual Diamond Cup Race. The fourth unlimited race of the season was staged on Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, before a crowd reported in excess of 50,000. A special fuel additive of nitrous oxide was mixed with the regular fuel to provide additional emergency power for driver Bill Brow in Miss Exide. This proved to be the winning combination in turning back 12 competitors.
The August 1-2 regatta was filled with close driving duels and suspense capped by the final and deciding heat. No story book finish could have been finer. After two days of racing in five elimination heats, six high-point boats were selected for the final five laps around the three-mile course. Four of the six contenders were so close in points that victory by any one would make her overall winner of the trophy.
Miss Eagle Electric, the host boat from nearby Spokane, Wash., gave the partisan crowd a thrill when driver Norm Evans outdistanced the field in heat 1-A to win by 13 seconds over Mariner Too. Gale V, $ Bill and Savair's Mist trailed.
The following heat matched two favorites, Miss Bardahl and Miss Exide. Brow steered Miss Exide to the lead at the first turn. The milkman from Seattle was never headed. Posting a first-lap speed of 110.204 m.p.h., he led Ron Musson in Bardahl by 300 feet. At the end of the fifth he had extended it to 12 seconds to average 106.508 m.p.h. for the 15-mile event.
Two other favorites were matched in heat 1-C. Three-time Diamond Cup winner Bill Muncey driving Notre Dame and Chuck Thompson in Harrah's Tahoe Miss settled down to a redhot driving duel after both overanxiously jumped the gun. Miss Madison, the first legal starter, stayed with the leaders for the first two laps. At the start of the third, a blanket could have covered the top three. On the following lap the Tahoe entry nosed past Muncey on the turn to take the lead. But on the next lap a faulty supercharger bearing forced Thompson to the infield. Miss Madison took up the chase, passed Notre Dame, anti went on to take first and 400 points.
In Heat 2-A it was Tahoe Miss repeating her previous performance. She out-ran the field, only this time her engine did not fail, and she came home the winner by 37 seconds. Her 114.894-m.p.h. first lap was the fastest of the regatta.
In heat 2-B it was Musson's turn to settle an earlier defeat. Ron drove Miss Bardahl to victory over Miss Exide after jumping to an early lead with a near-perfect start. Completion of this heat set the stage for the greatest that was to follow.
Only Hollywood script writers could have matched the ending. At the conclusion of five heats Miss Madison, Exide and Bardahl were tied with 700 points. Eagle Electric followed closely with 625. Any one of these could take the Cup by winning the finale. Coming down for the start, it was apparent the drivers were as excited as the crowd as the boats were jockeyed from one lane to another seeking the most advantageous position.
Mariner Too was first across the starting line, followed closely by Eagle Electric. Just out of the first turn, Musson steered the Bardahl entry into the lead. Tremendous roostertails flew as the six boats headed up the backstretch of the first lap. Suddenly, Brow found fantastic acceleration in Miss Exide. His nitrous oxide shot the craft out of the turn.
Midway up the backstretch Exide passed Mariner Too for second position. Approaching the next turn Brow pulled alongside Bardahl. Again, finding tremendous acceleration, Exide passed Musson on the outside to lead as they started lap No. 2. It was red-hot contention for the next three laps with only a roostertail separating the two at the most.
The intense duel for first was not the only excitement. Miss Madison and Eagle Electric provided many thrills as they exchanged places for third. Finally, on the fourth lap, Byers edged past the Spokane entry to finish third.
As the two leaders went into the final turn, Musson made a desperate move to overtake Exide. He took Bardahl to the outside. Maintaining power and boat speed around the corner, Ron pulled almost even with the leader at the exit buoy. For the next 2,000 feet both drivers applied every ounce of power the engines could muster. Dense black smoke shot from all 24 exhaust pipes as the two craft roared toward the finish line. But Miss Exide was not to be denied. She led her Bardahl rival by almost a full second. Others in order of finish: Miss Madison, Eagle Electric, Mariner Too and Notre Dame.
(Reprinted from Yachting, September 1964, pp.24, 211)
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