The Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) World Championship plays host to some of the world’s most thrilling nautical action. October 2nd, 1983 marked a historic day for the Miss Renault, taking its first ever World Championship win at Clear Lake, Houston TX. The course was a total of 45 miles – 2.5 miles per lap – and would see E. Milner Irvin III drive the Renault to victory.
Entrants from 5 different countries took part, with 18 boats in total qualifying for the race. A true underdog from the start, Miss Renault was never considered a serious contender for the race win, and attention was on the 2 most dominant teams of the weekend, Atlas Van Lines and Budweiser.
However, the race would give spectators something wildly unexpected. It wasn’t until the closing stages that things began to turn in Renaults favour. As the final few laps approached, the Atlas of leading driver Chip Hanauer fell victim to a hole in its sponson, which subsequently caused his retirement and halted the race. The restart would unsurprisingly see Budweiser fill in the top spot, developing a significant lead after just one lap. But in true motorsport style, this was just too good to be true for the Budweiser team and soon enough the supercharger within the engine failed, spelling race-end for Miss Budweiser.
American Speedy Printing then took the lead, whilst only for a short period before suffering mechanical issues. Just like a relay race, the lead changed hands for a 3rd time in the final moments of competition, only this time the leader would go on to finish the race and take the win. This of course was the Miss Renault represented by Jerry Schoenith and driven by Milner Irvin.
After the success, the team members were each gifted a Renault of their choice as promised, and every one of them opted for a Renault Fuego turbo.
The Renault which took that World Championship victory however was a completely different animal to the road-going Fuego. Miss Renault was powered by a V-12 engine taken from the famous WW2 North American P-51 Mustang. This 3,000bhp engine owed itself to fuel-injection, coupled with a double turbocharger which enabled 4,000rpm. The iconic hull of the Renault hydroplane measures 8.66m in length and 4.21m wide, weighing a total of 2.45 tonnes.
Miss Renault is perhaps one of the most outlandish motor vehicles to associate with the French automaker and is probably the most famous hydroplane of its era, no doubt making something of a comeback on your Instagram feed as of late. The boat took victory at Clear Lake in similar fashion to Riccardo Patrese in the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix, whereby 1st place changed hands several times in the final laps of the race. Miss Renault’s mighty last lap charge feels like redemption for the marque’s retirement in the previous year’s Monaco GP, in what would have been Alain Prost’s 6th victory in 2 years until colliding with the Armco barrier under wet conditions.