Hydros -- Chip Hanauer Injured As Hatch Pops Open
DETROIT - Miss Budweiser driver Chip Hanauer, defending national unlimited hydroplane champion, was injured yesterday when the escape hatch on the bottom of his boat blew open prior to the start of Heat 1-A of the Gold Cup race on the Detroit River.
Hanauer suffered lower back spasms and groin injuries, said Dr. Keith Peterson, Unlimited Racing Commission medical director, as a result of water gushing through the hatch into the cockpit. It was estimated that the boat was going 80 to 90 mph at the time of the mishap.
Hanauer was kept overnight at a hospital.
Hanauer was replaced by Mike Hanson, 34, a former Miss Madison driver.
"This is a dream come true to be able to drive the Miss Bud, but the timing is really tough," Hanson said. "I've been dreaming of a chance to drive Miss Bud since I was six. I feel bad about this because I was helping Exide, but Bernie Little (Bud owner) said he needed a favor.
"I just wish this was under different circumstances."
With Hanauer sidelined, Smokin' Joe's, owned by Steve Woomer of Seattle, is now the favorite. Driven by Mark Tate of Wayne, Mich., Smokin' Joe's won Heats 1-B and 2-A yesterday at average speeds of 146.313 and 145.485 mph. Pico's American Dream, driven by Dave Villwock, won Heats 1-A and 2-B at 144.891 and 136.869 mph.
"It's a shame what happened to Chip because you want to race against the best," Tate said. "Chip's a competitor, but he's also a friend. When you hear one of your rivals is out, it takes a little out of you. You never want to see a competitor and a friend in that situation."
Miss Budweiser, which has won seven of the last eight national championships, will not only have to win both of its heats today but needs for some of the front-runners to have troubles to have any chance to qualify for the final.
Only the top six boats advance out of the heats to the final.
After yesterday's two heats, Miss Budweiser has only 129 points (400 points are awarded for first place; 300 for second, 225 for third, 169 fourth and 127 for fifth).
-- Hanson came within a few feet of hitting a concrete wall on the grandstand turn - drenching fans - during his first run. Hanson destroyed the buoy, which was 10 feet from the wall. He was penalized one lap for dislodging the buoy. The mask on Hanson's helmet came off briefly just before the turn, but he quickly got it in place. "They were trying to make sure everything fit me, but the mask just fell off briefly," Hanson said. "I had problems and drove a little wide on that one turn."
-- Smokin Joe's won both of its heats with two different gear ratios, two different propellers and two different motors. "We're hoping that once we plug in the computer information we can put the best of all three and get a stronger combination," Tate said.
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