Thanksgiving Weekend 1972. The Outboard World Championship on Lake Havasu, Arizona. At stake,$65.000.00 overall, this was the richest Boat Race in the world. 108 entries from the US, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, & Argentina competed that weekend. 6 boats flipped on Friday practice, so 102 boats answered the starting gun that Saturday morning in November.
# 35 Barry Woods- went out to an early lead in the 1st hour. # 12 Billy Schumacher, a 2 time Unlimited Hydroplane Gold Cup Champion, in his 1st outboard race was in 2nd place. After 2 hours of racing, OMC was 1-2-3-4 with Bobby Witt-Tommy Posse-James Beard- & Johnnie Sanders in 4th.
At hour 3 ( on Day 1) it was Sanders OMC (1st) Beard OMC (2nd) Bert Serra (Mercury) (3rd) & Cees Van Der Veldon (4th) with a C-6 Mercury. At the end of 4 hours of racing on Day 1 it was Van Der Veldon (Mercury 1st) Sanders (OMC 2nd) Beard (OMC 3rd) & Serra (Mercury 4th) On Sunday morning, Sanders had a bad start & was running 4th.
The leader, Cees Van der Veldon, blew over while leading in the 1st hour & Johnnie Sanders took over the lead. # 501 Bert Serra, after a courageous battle with Sanders to win, ended up 2nd (Mercury). # 12 Billy Schumacher (OMC) was 3rd while #37 James Beard (OMC) was 4th. Johnnie Sanders completed 174 laps of that 4 mile boomerang shaped course to set a new record of 86.5 mph, 4 mph faster than the previous record.
OMC captured 4 of the top 10. Earl Benz placed 7th, while Rich McKinnley was 9th. Sanders 1st prize winnings were $18,000.00 A lot of money in those days. For Johnnie Sanders, 1972 was like the Grand Slam of Outboard Tunnel Hull Racing.
He won Parker 9 Hour Enduro, Paris, Berlin, & the Outboard World Championship at Lake Havasu that season. Johnnie Sanders accomplished something that season that no other man had ever done before, win the four biggest outboard tunnel hull boat races in the world -all in one season! Something that was only accomplished that year (1972) and never has been nor ever likely will ever be equaled.