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 Detroit, Michigan. 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". He won 62 races, which was the most races in the history of the sport until Dave Villwock broke his record in 2011.[1][2][3]

Racing career[edit]

Muncey began his boat racing career in 1949 by sinking in front of a hometown crowd on the Detroit River. Muncey'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.

Muncey had his first win at the Gold Cup in 1956 in Miss Thriftway. He followed that with another Gold Cup win in 1957, again in Miss Thriftway. 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. Muncey attributed much of his success to his close friend and an accomplished aeronautical engineer, D.J. Nolan, Sr. of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. 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).[2] He was buried at Glen Abbey Memorial Park in Bonita, California[4]

In more than three decades of hydroplane racing, Muncey had claimed eight Gold Cups (1956, 1957, 1961, 1962, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979),[5] seven U.S. National Championships (1960, 1961, 1962, 1972, 1976, 1978, 1979),[6] and four World Championships. He was named the driver of the year seven times.

As an owner, the Muncey family won six High Points Champions (1976, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1985), with his widow Fran owning the Atlas Van Lines "Blue Blaster" until the end of the 1984 season, after which the boat became the Miller American from 1985 until 1987. In Fran Muncey's final year, the boat was renamed the Miller High Life, owing to Miller Brewing's rebranding of motorsport operations. Chip Hanauer drove the Muncey operation throughout her control before the team was bought out by Circus Circus at the end of the 1988 season.[7]



  • 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
  • At the Ragged Edge , A.J. Muntz. 2013. ISBN 1-48194-905-5.

Personal life[edit]

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

He was twice married and had four children.


  1. ^ a b c d Biography Archived July 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  2. ^ a b c Biography Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  3. ^ "Spirit of Qatar Clinches 2011 High Points Championship". H1 Unlimited. Archived from the original on December 21, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ Find A Grave, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  5. ^ Gold Cup winners, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  6. ^ U.S. National Champs, Retrieved May 23, 2007
  7. ^ Haskin, Brad. "The Circus Circus Story". The Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum. Retrieved September 23, 2016. 
  8. ^ [1]

External links[edit]