February 2000
David Hawkins of Hendersonville, TN has new website. The website includes pictures of his restoration project. David’s 48 cubic inch 1951 Hallett hydroplane, ZOOM Y-89, is coming along nicely. The hull is ready for decking. The Crosley engine has been detailed, painted and ready to go. The pictures show that David’s workmanship is very meticulous, and that he has paid close attention to detail. Very nice work.

Dave & Linda Rogers from Alexandria, Bay, NY have just purchased a Sooy conventional 280 cubic inch hydroplane, DAD’S DREAM E-52. Dave is looking for information on the boat’s history. He can be reached at (315) 482-9461. 

Billy Wisher from New Orleans, LA has located and purchased a 280 cubic inch hydroplane E-747, THE RAMBLER. Bill is trying to identify the boat and needs information on its racing history. He believes that this could be an early 50’s, seventeen foot, Rich Hallett designed and built 266 cubic inch hydro that was later changed into a 280. There were many great Louisiana inboard racers. This region was very competitive. There must be someone there who can shed some additional information on THE RAMBLER. Bill Wisher can be reached at (504) 392-2052. 
If Billy truly has found a Rich Hallett hull from the fifties, it’s a rare one. There are only a few members that actually own original Hallett hulls. Rich’s hulls were fast and light. I am certain that he built well over a hundred boats. To my knowledge, very few are still in existence. 
Vintage raceboats are continuing to become popular around the country. The APBA is seeing growing interest in the locating and restoring of antique raceboats of all types. This year we should have an outstanding fleet of vintage boats participating at our sanctioned events, especially at Clayton, NY. This will be the largest gathering of restored and unrestored vintage raceboats ever.

Wally Johnston who currently campaigns a front running 5 Litre called THE AGITATOR, responded in regards to the mystery boat seen by Terry Anderson in the front yard of a home in Moses Lake, WA. Wally formerly owned this boat but never raced it. The COFFEE BREAK, F-3, was from the Great Falls, Montana area. Johnston has been racing for about 15 years, but it has been about 10 years since he has seen or heard of his old hydro. Anyone with more information on the COFFEE BREAK/Ms.Right please contact me. A special thanks to Wally for keeping us informed.
OPC Chairman, Ron Hill from Irvine, CA responded to Jim Wellington’s quest for information on the recently found Randolph Hearst Perpetual Trophy. In 1949, his brother won the Hearst Trophy. Jim Wellington’s new phone number is (530) 888-0350.

July 6 - 9    Detroit, MI: Chrysler APBA Gold Cup. Contact me if you wish to attend this millennium event.
August 17 - 20   Clayton, NY: Antique Raceboat Regatta 2000

We are happy to report that former inboard and Unlimited hydroplane drivers, Jim McCormick and Bill Sterett, Sr., (both deceased) have been inducted into the Owensboro, KY Hall of Fame as “Home Town Heroes” this past November. Our congratulations to the Sterett and McCormack families.

One of the most popular APBA inboard runabout classes in California was the B racing Runabouts (BRR). The B’s also competed on the East Coast, with Philadelphia being a hot bed for the class in the 1940’s and it’s noted that Edison Hedges set the 1947 1 mile record of 51.463 mph in Middle River, MD. By the 1950’s the BRR’s were racing in just four Western States: California, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. The B’s had the same cubic inch and engine modification requirements as the 135 hydroplanes, and the mighty little Ford V8-60 flathead on methanol reigned supreme in the 13 ft hulls. In 1963 the cubic inch limit was increased to 150. What set the BRR’s apart from the other runabout classes was the wide variety of hull designs and shapes; the class really lent itself to the talents of the backyard boat builder/designer.
SLIDE RULE, 40-B was designed by its owner/driver Woody Eldredge using just that, a slide rule. The boat was quite successful in competition, and won the B National Championships in 1955 and, 14 years later, in 1969 with new owner Jeff Walsh driving.
The BRR’s also attracted many a Crackerbox class driver into its ranks by rewarding an equally wild, seat of the pants driving style. Along with Walsh, who today still competes in the Crackers, was the late Leroy Penhall who campaigned SLIDE RULE in 56-57; Jon Sherin in DOWN BOY 23-B, 1999 Crackerbox National Champion, Jon Fay with B-BOP, 2-B, Bob Patterson in RAMPAGE, 25-B, and his brother Tom in HONKER, 8-B.
A great example of B Runabout boat design, the HONKER resembled a giant, thin wedge of cheese with its squared off non-trips and bow. “The guys laughed and keep kidding me that I forgot to put the sponsons on my hydro,” recalls Patterson. Tom built 6 different “wedges” as he called them and most used a modified Triumph TR-3 engine. The first one was called BUZZ BOMB and was only 36” wide. The VAMPIRE had counter-rotating surfacing props and later was raced in boat drags running a Dodge Red Ram.” TAILSPIN was another Patterson wedge but “the one I built for Chuck Shrader was the most beautiful; of all. Chuck never raced it, never even put it in the water. Now the hull’s glassed-over and is used as a coffee table,” adds Tom. The HONKER was the most successful wedge. After converting from the Triumph to a Ford Falcon-6 powerplant and using a fuel-injection system designed and built by Patterson, it won the BRR Nationals and set a 1-mile record at 75.06 mph in 1963. Later, HONKER garnered more awards under the ownership of Wayland Fink, and was re-named JO, with Mickey Remund the driver.
The prettiest BRR of all time would have to be Dick Overpack’s QUEEN BEE, 50-B. The striking lime-green and pink hull featured lots of chrome hardware with rounded chines and a sloping deck line. Always a crowd favorite, QUEEN BEE was a front runner but was dogged by bad luck and never won a National Championship.
Willie Miranda’s VINA MAE IV, 1-B, driven by Ed Parsley was the BR to beat from 1951 -53. But when Ernie Rose got his 1952 Speedliner hull LIL’BEE, 28-B, dialed-in by late ’53, the competition had a new yard stick against which to measure. Ernie and LIL’BEE flew like no other BRR had flown before or has since. Spectators were brought to their feet watching Ernie bring that boat down the straight a ways in full flight. Winning National and High Point Championships, setting 1-mile and competition records and being nominated to Yachting Magazine’s 1956 All-American Racing Team added to the LIL’BEE/Ernie Rose legend over the years. In ’63 Ernie towed to the Miami Orange Bowl Regatta and took on the best of the faster and more powerful E Racing Runabouts. By running an oversized Falcon engine in LIL’BEE he was able to take home a victory and win the admiration of Southern spectators as well. There may never have been a more dominating team in boat racing than the late Ernie Rose/LIL’BEE combination which lasted until the demise of the class in the early 1970’s.
Finding and restoring a B Racing Runabout would certainly create an exciting Vintage class racer, as I doubt any driver was ever bored with the wild ride they provided.

Johnny Corea accelerates out of the turn at Lake Merritt, CA 1953. The mahogany and bronze SKIPPY, 40-A, was powered by a Ford V8-60 Flathead. In 1955, Skippy won the 135 cu. in hydro National Championship at Guntersville, AL.

©2000 Tom D'Eath