Bill Muncey

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Bill Muncey.

William Edward "Bill" Muncey (November 12, 1928 – October 18, 1981) was an American hydroplane racing legend from La Mesa, California. The International Motorsports Hall of Fame and hydroplane historian Dan Cowie described Muncey as "without question, the greatest hydroplane racer in history."[1] Muncey was nicknamed "Mr. Unlimited", and press referred to Muncey as the "hot chauffeur" and "hot".[2] He won 62 races, which was the most races in the history of the sport until Dave Villwock broke his record in 2011.[1][3] [4]

Racing career[edit]

Muncey began his boat racing career in 1949 by sinking in front of a hometown crowd on the Detroit River.[2] Bill’s first attempt to drive in an American Power Boat Association (APBA) Gold Cup event began by blowing up the engine. Muncey went to Gar Wood’s riverfront mansion, and asked Wood for help. Muncey got an engine from Wood, but the bottom of the boat fell out during the next race.[2]

Muncey had his first win at the Gold Cup in 1956 in Miss Thriftway. His career took off in 1960. Muncey won fourteen races between 1960 and 1962, including six of seven in 1962.[1] In 1976, at age 48, he won five races in his boat Atlas Van Lines to silence the critics that said that he was too old to win. He moved to a new Atlas Van Lines boat in 1977 and won twenty times in the next three seasons. He followed up with four wins in 1980. Muncey won his last race during the Thunder on the Ohio race at Evansville, IN in 1981. Muncey was leading the final heat of the World Championship race at Acapulco on October 18, 1981 when he died in a blowover crash while travelling 175 miles per hour (280 kilometers per hour).[3] He was buried at Glen Abbey Memorial Park in Bonita, California[5]

In more than three decades of hydroplane racing, Muncey had claimed eight Gold Cups (1956, 1957, 1961, 1962, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979),[6] seven U.S. National Championships (1960, 1961, 1962, 1972, 1976, 1978, 1979),[7] and four World Championships. He was named the driver of the year seven times.[2]



  • Thunderboating with Bill Muncey , Tony Hogg. 1979. ISBN 0-931570-01-8.
  • Bill Muncey: Boat Racing Legend , Stephen A. Garey (Unlimiteds Detroit 1982 Library of Congress No. 91-672

Personal life[edit]

Bill Muncey attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where he was initiated as a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

Twice married: 17-years to Mary "Kit" Muncey (m. 1952- div. 1969) 3-children, died February 14, 2006

Married to Fran Norman, in 1969, until his death in 1981. One child


  1. ^ a b c d Biography at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  2. ^ a b c d e Biography at the National Marine Manufacturers Association Hall of Fame, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  3. ^ a b c Biography at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  4. ^ "Spirit of Qatar Clinches 2011 High Points Championship". H1 Unlimited. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ Find A Grave, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  6. ^ Gold Cup winners, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  7. ^ U.S. National Champs, Retrieved May 23, 2007

External links[edit]