1973 Miss Budweiser
Reprinted from Skid Fin Magazine, 2003, Volume 1 Number 2.
late 1960s and early 1970s were a time of change and revolution. Music, fashion
and politics were all going through unprecedented transformations. Hydroplane
racing was no different. It was a struggling with a number of issues that would
define the shape of its future.
old, round-nosed, rear-cockpit boats were clearly reaching the limits of their
abilities, and new ideas were cropping up everywhere. One of the most radical
new boat designs came from the drawing board of Ron Jones. The 1970 Pay ‘N Pak
was a wide-transom, low profile, cab-over, pick-fork boat with twin automotive
engines. More new ideas were being tried in this one boat than in an entire
fleet in previous years.
bright gold and orange Pay ‘N Pak featured a long, low hull that was wider at
the transom than any other boat. The drive sat ahead of the twin Chrysler Hemi
engines. The bow was cut back deeply to create the now familiar pickle-forks.
new boat was driven by the popular Tommy Fults and later by Ron Larson. She
showed moments of promise, qualifying second fastest in her very first race. She
even won a few heats, but the twin Chryslers proved to be too unreliable to beat
the Merlin and Allison engines that dominated the sport. The Pay ‘N Pak ended up
seventh in the 1970 National High Point Standings.
the off-season between 1970 and 1971, Pay ‘N Pak crew chief Jim Lucero converted
the boat to a front-engine configuration powered by a single Merlin. Two-time
Gold Cup winner Billy Schumacher was brought in to drive.
’71 season got off to a rocky start when the Pak lost her rudder during the
first race. Schumacher and the Pak struggled with a variety of problems for the
next few races, but everything came together for the team at the end of the
season when they won three-consecutive races.
Pak’s performance was hit-and-miss in’72. She won only one race that year, the
Presidents Cup in Washington D.C. Following the ’72 season; the Pak was sold to
Bernie Little and became the seventh Miss Budweiser.
1973, with Dean Chenoweth driving, the Miss Budweiser won four races including
the Gold Cup, and narrowly missed claiming the National Championship. The Bud
won four more races in 1974 and again narrowly missed out on the National
Championship. She won two races in 1975 and was sold to Norm Putt of Australia.
Putt renamed her Miss Bud and her number changed from U-12 to VS-22. She
continued her winning ways in Australia capturing the prestigious Griffith Cup.
Mann of Unlimited Excitement went to Australia, bought the boat and shipped her
back home to Seattle in 2001. She is in running shape, but she needs a little
work. She is next up in the queue to be restored, and with any luck race fans
will see her back on Lake Washington in the near future.