The 18th annual Columbia Cup for unlimited hydroplanes was in its second day of competition last Saturday when four-time national champion Dean Chenoweth and his Miss Budweiser roared down the Columbia River course near Pasco, Wash., in a qualifying run. Traveling at 175 mph, Miss Bud's bow began to lift off the water, higher and higher, until "the boat seemed for a few seconds to be sitting on its tail," according to Coast Guard Lt. Commander Dennis Godfrey. "Then the boat seemed to lean over, and we knew it was bad."
The 6,300-pound Miss Budweiser slammed upside down in the water, crushing Chenoweth and throwing up a wall of spray. The 44-year-old driver was pronounced dead half an hour later.
The accident was a classic "blow over." Last October the same thing had happened to Bill Muncey, the most successful driver in unlimited history. "After Bill died, everyone said it would be tough for the sport to survive," said Pay 'N Pack driver John Walters. "Now Dean's gone and it's going to make things that much tougher. It's obvious that boats are being run on the ragged edge."