Chip Hanauer - Biography

Hydroplane racing legend, Lee Edward "Chip" Hanauer Was born on July 1, 1954 in Seattle, Washington.

Chip started racing powerboats at the age of nine, when he purchased his first race boat for $250.00. At age 10, he placed 5th in the Junior Stock Hydroplane Class for 9-12 year olds, but soon enough championships would come his way. At 18, he won his first American Power Boat Association (APBA) Championship in the 145 Class.


Chip Hanauer

In 1976 at the age of 22, he graduated Cum Lade at Washington State University and he got his first taste of unlimited hydroplane racing, when he made his debut in The Tri-Cities, Washington driving the U-22, Barney Armstrong's Machine; A boat that was just as old (if not older) than him, which debuted as The Breathless. He failed to qualify there, But got to race in The Seafair Race in Seattle, Washington the next week and finished eighth.

Chip worked as a teacher, teaching emotionally disturbed children and he became a full time unlimited hydroplane driver in 1978 when The Squire Shop Race Team hired Chip to replace Jerry Bangs, who died in an accident, at the 1977 Seafair race. Chip earned his first victory in 1979, in Ogden, Utah.

He drove for the Squire Shop, until the 1981 season, when his big break arrived in 1982, when he became the Driver for The Atlas Van Lines, sadly replacing Owner/Driver Legend Bill Muncey, when he died in the final race of the 1981 season, in the final heat of the race in Acapulco, Mexico, when his "Blue Blaster" Boat flipped. Bill requested to his widow, Fran, if he died, to continue the race team. Fran selected Chip to drive and it's been said that he was picked by Bill to replace him.

Entering the 1982 season, with a new boat, a new race team and a new owner, Chip went on to win five races, which included a thrilling come from behind and head to head victory, against the Miss Budweiser, in that year's APBA Gold Cup (the oldest motor sports trophy), in Detroit, Michigan; A venue Chip considers it to be "The Yankee Stadium of boat racing". In addition, he went on to win his first Unlimited National and World Championship.

1984 and 1985, saw changes for Hanauer, as he and the race team entered into the turbine age, when a new Atlas Van Lines was a turbine powered boat, replacing the traditional, piston powered hydroplanes, powered by World War II aircraft engines. the team saw some success as they were adjusting to a new boat and engine, but they still managed to win their third straight Gold Cup. At the end of the season, Atlas Van Lines got out of the sport and the team saw a new sponsor in 1985, Miller Brewing Company and the boat became the Miller American. That year, he became a dominant force, winning his 4th straight Gold Cup and winning another National Championship.

1986 became a year where he was challenging the late Gar Wood, for the most consecutive Gold Cup wins with five and he tied the record in Detroit, Michigan. where it all started.

1987 saw a new boat for Chip, which saw a new feature on the boat; A canopy to protect the driver and while adjusting to it, it had modest success, but a new milestone happened in San Diego, California, when Chip won his sixth consecutive Gold Cup and eclipsing Gar Wood's record.

1988 saw Chip win a 7th consecutive Gold Cup victory, when he piloted a damaged Circus Circus hull, owned by the Muncey racing team.

More changes were to come, as the exit of an owner, sponsor and the entrance of a new Owner and sponsor. At the end of the 1988 season, Fran Muncey and Miller Brewing Company left the sport and Bill Bennett, owner Circus Circus Hotels and Casinos, purchased the entire Muncey operation and made a full comeback into the sport.

While racing for the Circus, more victories came and Chip once again took the 1990 National Championship.

At the end of the 1990 season, both Circus circus and Chip left the sport. Chip tried his hand at auto racing, driving for Toyota, but he made a comeback to the sport, as he joined Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser racing team, in 1992.

More victories followed Chip but so did the injuries. In 1994, he fractured four vertebrae in a warm up accident at the Gold Cup race in Detroit. He also suffered a neurological disorder which took away his ability to speak for three years. When he spoke, he sounded like he had to strain his voice. The injury as a result, left him into an intense depression. In addition, he suffered concussions, broken bones and lingering neck pain.

1995,saw Chip being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame at the age of 40, being at the time, the youngest active racer.

By 1996, Chip left the Budweiser race team, citing safety issues and he was out of the sport once again, until 1999, when Fred Leland in the Pico American Dream Racing team came calling. Chip answered the call and he won an unprecedented eleventh Gold Cup win.

During that time, Chip was closing in on the late Bill Muncey's record of 62 career Victories, but at the end of the 1999 season, Chip retired the sport for good. Some people say, it was the injuries suffered over the years, but some say he did it out of respect to his Friend and Mentor. Whatever the case, Chip says he has no regrets about leaving the sport.

You can now find Chip doing color commentary for the Seafair Unlimited Hydroplane Race, in Seattle, Washington for KIRO TV 7.


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5917 South 196th Street - Kent, WA 98032
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