Which driver with no career victories has had the greatest impact within the sport?
Craig Fjarlie (Unlimited News Journal Writer & H1 Unlimited Volunteer)
Over the years there have been a number of drivers who made contributions to Unlimited racing, yet never won a race. Names that come to mind include Brien Wygle, Bob Miller, and Mike Wolfbauer. Mike Jones never won as a driver, yet he won as an owner and served as APBA President. David Williams never won as a driver but has done a lot for Unlimited racing by heading the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum. Doug Brow never won as a driver but served as a referee for Unlimiteds and Grand Prix. My choice as the driver who never won a race but has done the most for Unlimited racing is Ken Muscatel. He served as an administrator for the Unlimited class and helped rescue it from poor management. He also helped with the development of the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum, especially in its early years. He continues his involvement and devotion to Unlimited racing by maintaining vintage boats. We owe him a major debt of gratitude.
Jeff Morrow (Former Sports Editor of the Tri-City Herald)
This one took me a while to figure out. But it has to be Dr. Ken Muscatel.
He never won an event. But he probably did more than most drivers ever did for hydroplane racing. A forensic psychologist, he’s held many roles in unlimited hydroplane racing. His biggest role was likely becoming Unlimited Commissioner in 1998 when the sport needed him most to right a financial ship that was sinking. He did it for two years.
Over the years, he owned his own boat and had a team. He never won, but he helped fill out the field. A big promoter of the sport, Muscatel worked with the film crew on the movie Madison. And he’s served as the president at one time for the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Seattle.
Hey may not have won a race, but he contributed more to the sport than most drivers.
Andy Muntz (Unlimited News Journal Editor & H1 Unlimited Board Member)
Those who have had the greatest impact on the sport without winning a race as a driver will include several people who had brief driving careers, but a more lengthy career as an owner. Included among them are Horace Dodge, Fred Leland, Bill Wurster, George Simon, Mike Jones, and Bob Fendler. Roy Duby never won a race as a driver, but held the world straightaway speed record for more than 38 years. Perhaps the greatest impact was Ken Muscatel, however. While he had a long career as a driver and as an owner, he also had a big impact on the sport as an administrator. His influence has touched many different aspects of the sport, in fact.
David Newton (Publisher of Roostertail Talk Podcast)
Drivers are often compared and glorified by their race victories or championships. We don’t tend to see past the number of trophies they have in their trophy cases. Drivers are integral to so many other things than we see on the water. They help mentor others, wrench on their boats in the pits and the winter months are a face for the fanbase of the sport and do their part to help the sport thrive.
An unsung hero in H1 Unlimited has to be Ken Muscatel. In the 20 something years he raced he was never able to win a race. I don’t think of that as an unsuccessful career as he was able to accomplish so much during that timeframe. In the early 90’s Ken, alongside many others, was able to form the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum. Ken purchased and saved many of the boats that are now in the museum. Without his efforts we may not be able to see in person the Slo-mo-shun IV, V, Miss Burien, Hurricane IV and many others that are preserved back to their glory days.
From 1993 on he owned his own hydroplane racing team. Not many drivers have had the ability to do this as there are not many drivers that own their own unlimited hydroplane. He didn’t always have the best equipment, but by doing this he helped the competition and boat count stay up.
Ken supported the sport and stepped-up time and time again to do his part to keep hydroplane racing afloat. In 1998 he stepped up and took over as Commissioner of H1 Unlimited (the name was URC and then renamed UHRA at the time) as the previous Commissioner Don Jones stepped down from his role after some questionable management. He did everything he could to help the sport continue to grow in the late 90s while still racing and driving his own hydroplane at the time.
His greatest racing achievement has to have been setting the mile straightaway record back in 2000. He ended up not driving his hydroplane for that, but Russ Wicks drove Ken’s Miss Free-I to an average of 205.494MPH. For an underpowered racing team this was a HUGE achievement. Not only did they get the record that had stood for 30 years previously, but it also brought attention to the sport.
Ken did so much to help the sport, but unfortunately since he never won his name is rarely mentioned. He definitely deserves a spot alongside the other greats in the sport.