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Hanauer to drive refurbished Atlas at Seafair

Unlimited hydroplane star will drive boat that crashed, killing Bill Muncey in 1981, during exhibition.

By Ashley Scoby, Seattle Times staff reporter
Originally published on seattletimes.com,  July 29, 2014

The remnants of a horrible day in Mexico have been transformed, and a more positive memory will take place at Seafair this weekend.

Bill Muncey is regarded as one of the best hydroplane racers in history, and was killed during the 1981 World Championship race in Acapulco, Mexico. For 30 years, the boat from that crash – Atlas Van Lines – sat unused and badly damaged.

But thanks to $100,000 and four years of work from the Hydroplane and Race Boat Museum in Kent, that boat has been refurbished and will get back in the water at Seafair during exhibitions Friday through Sunday.

“We have an opportunity here to kind of right a wrong, if you will,” said David Williams, executive director of the museum. “The last time that boat was on a race course, it was upside down. It was broken in pieces. People were literally crying. ... We don’t want that to be the last memory of that boat.”

Chip Hanauer will drive the refurbished boat, dubbed Blue Blaster because that’s what many broadcasters called the original Atlas Van Lines, according to Williams. Hanauer, an understudy of Muncey’s, was an “obvious” choice to drive the boat: He retired with 61 wins – at the time, second most in hydroplane racing history – because he didn’t want to break Muncey’s record of 62 wins.

“Chip really looked up to Bill,” Williams said. “So when it came time to find somebody to drive the boat, there really was no question of who it should be.”

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Comment by Gary Dougherty on July 30, 2014 at 9:11pm

Lets go back to those glory days.

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