The Most Tragic Unlimited Hydroplane Crash in Tri-Cities History
Since moving to the Tri-Cities in 1989, I haven't missed a Columbia Cup, and over the years, I've seen some incredible flips, collisions, and odd mishaps. My hat is off to the drivers who put their life on the line to entertain thousands of spectators each year, and thank goodness the sport has become safer.
The open cockpit designs between the mid-1960s to the early-80s were extremely dangerous. It was most likely certain death if you flipped, or at the very least, serious injuries would occur. For example, in 1966 the Miss Bardahl lost a prop and became airborne and ripped apart, killing driver Ron Musson (video below). That day, June 19, 1966, became known as "Black Sunday" as two other drivers were killed later in the day in similar accidents.
In 1981 driving legend, Bill Muncey lost his life during a race in Mexico, and the following year in 1982, Dean Chenoweth was killed while testing the Miss Budweiser on the Columbia River which was the most tragic crash in local Unlimited Hydroplane race history. Unlimited Hydroplane racing changed forever after that day, as Bernie Little introduced the closed cockpit design.
From Madison to Sea Fair to the Columbia Cup there have been some wild Unlimited Hydro events. Check out the compilation video and the "Black Sunday" story below. And, here's to a safe and exciting Columbia Cup Weekend, July 23rd - 25th.