Hanauer Leaving For Good
By Holly Cain - Reprinted from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 25, 2000
Hanauer leaving for good; announcement today from hydro veteran
Hydroplane racer Chip Hanauer, a longtime Seattle sports figure, has decided to leave the sport for good and will formally announce his retirement today.
Hanauer, 45, has taken time off from the Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Association series previously because of injuries or team shuffles, but this is the first time he is terming his decision a true retirement.
The move was prompted after his current race team's sponsor, PICO, decided to withdraw its sponsorship from the sport. It was PICO executive Larry Wisne who persuaded Hanauer to rejoin the circuit for the 1999 season after a nearly three-year sabbatical.
Hanauer returned to win the first three races of the year, including an unprecedented 11th American Power Boat Association (APBA) Gold Cup in the Miss PICO.
Since Hanauer's unlimited hydroplane debut in 1976, he has claimed a record-tying seven national championships. His 61 victories is one shy of the late Bill Muncey's all-time record.
Hanauer is a seven-time winner of Seattle's Seafair event, and in 1995 he became the youngest driver from any form of motorsports to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
"This is the first time I've ever used the word retirement," Hanauer said. "I was happily away from racing when Larry really twisted my arm and said he had great plans.
"What really sold me was his enthusiasm. Things have changed since then."
PICO was sold last season to another company, and therefore Hanauer said he wasn't totally surprised at the change of direction.
Although he conceded he was "disappointed" with the turn of events, Hanauer said he's at peace with his decision.
"The biggest thing in my life for the past 35 years has been powerboat racing," Hanauer said. "I enjoyed last year and felt like we did really well but I could tell it was no longer the one center thing in my life.
"To be a race driver you have to be totally committed to that one center thing and after 35 years I don't think that is still the case.
"I look back and feel so fortunate," he said. "Here was a little kid that all he wanted to do was be a race driver. To have 11 Gold Cups, 61 wins, my health intact and some money in the bank . . . it's just been wonderful."
Hanuaer, a Seattle native, joined the UHRA circuit as a 22-year-old the year after graduating with honors from Washington State University.
He got his first victory in 1979.
Hanauer's career really took off after replacing Muncey as the driver of the Atlas Van Lines after Muncey, his mentor, was killed racing in 1981.
Hanauer won three national titles driving for Muncey's widow, Fran, and calls that tenure during the 1980s, "unquestionable the happiest time of my career."
He also won national titles driving the Circus Circus (1989, 1990) and the Miss Budweiser (1992, 1993).
Hanauer claimed his 10th Gold Cup in 1995 driving the Miss Budweiser, but was injured in that event the following year and withdrew from competition before rejoining the series in 1999 to drive the Miss PICO.
Hanauer said he realized some may question the timing of his retirement considering his proximity to Muncey's record.
But Hanauer has always maintained that breaking the all-time win record was never a true motivation for him.
"I don't think people really believed me when I said last year I wasn't coming back to break Bill's record," said Hanauer, who paused before adding, "Maybe they'll believe me now.
"That would be the last record Bill held on his own and knowing him like I did, it would be important to him to have that still. It wouldn't serve any purpose for me. It wouldn't change my life. It's in very good hands with Bill.
"All I ever wanted to accomplish was winning one Gold Cup and one national championship. So in 1982 I could have walked away and been a happy guy."
Hanauer wouldn't rule out future involvement with the UHRA but doubted the likelihood of starting his own team or serving as a series official. His most immediate plans include a summer holiday in Spain.
"There are other things that I would like to do in my life," Hanauer said. "This is the time to move on."
The Hanauer file:
Career highlights: Won seven Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Association (UHRA) titles (1982, '83, '85, '89, '90, '92 and '93). . . . Has an unprecedented 11 Gold Cup victories. . . . Won seven Seafair races. . . . His 61 victories is one shy of Bill Muncey's all-time record. . . . Inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1995.