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Hanauer Loses, but Still Wins Title : Hydroplane racing: Driver wins second consecutive national championship despite upset victory by Hanson.


SAN DIEGO — Chip Hanauer had been saying all week that if he and the Miss Budweiser unlimited hydroplane lost a race, it would be good for the sport.

Sunday, before an estimated crowd of 80,000 lining Mission Bay, it happened--but in the most improbable way.

It also happened after Hanauer had clinched his second consecutive and seventh overall national championship series and the 14th for boat owner Bernie Little.

"Losing is one thing, and probably it's best that we don't win every time, but I never wanted it to happen this way," said Hanauer, who had won seven consecutive races and 14 of the last 17.

Hanauer, who had been fast qualifier and the winner of all three of his three-lap heats over the 2.5-mile Bill Muncey course on Mission Bay, lost when he was penalized a lap for crowding the Winston Eagle boat on the first lap of the Texaco Star Mart Cup.

Mike Hanson, driving Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, a boat that had to start behind the rest of the field after qualifying through a last-chance race, won the first race of his career after four of the seven starters were left dead in the water.

Hanson's finest hour came shortly after he and the Madison, Ind., team saw a streak end. The Kellogg's boat had finished a record 34 consecutive heats, every one during the 1993 season, before the steering broke and they skipped two heats Sunday while repairs were being made.

Hanson passed only one boat on the water in coming from seventh place to victory.

Hanauer and Miss Budweiser managed to make up their lap deficit over the only other finisher, Cooper's Express, for second place. Cooper's Express, driven by Mitch Evans, was the only piston-driven boat racing against the turbine entries.

Both Hanauer and Mark Tate, driver of the Winston Eagle, blamed driver Steve David, in Miss T-Plus, for the incident that led to Hanauer's penalty and Tate's failure to finish. Referee Jim Codling of the United Racing Commission apparently agreed, as he disqualified David.

How the participants saw it:

Said Tate: "David had about a three-boat length lead going into the first turn and when he got to the apex, he chopped right across in front of Chip and me. That forced Chip to close in a little and I got caught in some of his white water. It probably looked like he pinched me, but if David had held his lane through the corner, all three of us would have got through."

Said Hanauer: "I was surprised when they radioed me that I was being penalized. I didn't think I moved out on the Winston boat at all. It looked like a graveyard out there with boats sitting everywhere. I had a difficult time picking my way through them."

Said David, who also serves as senior vice president of the American Power Boat Assn.: "I was outside, wide, when the inside boat (Tide, driven by Nate Brown) came out on me in rough water. The only reason I got disqualified was because of earlier infractions."

It was the fourth disqualification in nine races for David.

"I probably had the best view of what was going on," Hanson said. "I saw a lot of pushing and shoving going on in the first turn. I could see rooster tails criss-crossing, so I knew a lot of boats were getting washed down."

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