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By Fred Farley - APBA/HYDRO-PROP Unlimited Historian

The details of October 18, 1981, are presumably too well known to warrant painful reiteration here. The purpose of this book is to celebrate the life of Bill Muncey--not his death.

The team that he founded in 1976 continued in racing for another seven years under the leadership of Fran Muncey, Bill's widow. Atlas Van Lines, Inc., remained as corporate sponsor through 1984. In later years, Miller Brewing and Circus Circus Casinos bankrolled the team.

Fran hired Bill's hand-picked successor--Chip Hanauer--to replace her late husband in the cockpit. Bill had always told Fran, "If anything ever happens to me, be sure to get the boat to the next race and put a driver in it."

Hanauer picked up right where Bill had left off. Between 1982 and 1988, he won 24 races for the Bill Muncey Industries team, including an incredible seven consecutive Gold Cups. Chip was also National High Point Champion in 1982, 1983, and 1985.

It is interesting to speculate as to what kind of a post-Acapulco career Bill might have had. He most certainly would have continued as a boat owner and as the sport's most eloquent ambassador of good will.

The ATLAS VAN LINES "Blue Blaster" would have been retired anyway at the end of 1981, since a new boat was already in the planning stages--even before Muncey's death. The "Blaster" was eventually donated to the Hydroplane And Raceboat Museum in Seattle.

It is questionable whether Bill would have continued as a driver. At the time of his death, he was just a few weeks shy of his 53rd birthday.

Kenton Muncey, Bill's son and an ATLAS VAN LINES crew member at the first few races of 1981, is convinced that the Final Heat at Acapulco would have been the last heat that his father would have ever driven.

But Kenton's older brother, Wil Muncey, Jr., tends to discount this theory. In Wil's words, "It's always easy to talk about the one that got away."

The sport in which Bill Muncey played such a vital role for so long will most certainly continue. His legacy is a standard of excellence that will be difficult to surpass.

And it's possible, in the mind's eye, to visualize Bill standing up there on the clouds, wearing that cowboy hat and those white-with-blue-trim coveralls, looking down on "his" sport.

He's saying, "Okay, guys. I served my time. Now, it's your turn. The potential of boat racing is still unlimited. The future is in your hands. So, let's shake a leg and get moving. The 5-minute gun has just fired."

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Copyright 2002 by Fred Farley.
For reprint rights to this book, contact the author at <fredf@hotmail.com>

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