December 2001
Paton Reed, a former California Outboard racer is asking us to help him find vintage outboard racing movies and/or videos. Phone: (949) 733-9993

Lake Irvine, CA was the setting for the Second Annual Boat Racer’s Reunion on September 22nd. On display were over 20 racing boats.
Wes Selvidge brought the V8-60 Ford-powered Baycraft, SUNKEN TREASURE. Baycraft of Oakland, CA., a racing outboard manufacturer, built the 1949 woody that spent 40 years on the bottom of Lake Tahoe until being salvaged in 1994 and then beautifully restored. Wes had hopes of someone at the show recognizing the hull, unfortunately, little more was revealed of its history. 
Outboard racer, Peyton Reed, a former 1950’s Swift hydro driver, joined Roger Carr, Ernie and Tammy Dawe in recalling Southern Cal races. 
There were some hot Flat Bottoms on display, such as Bob Burns 1962 Mandella, DISTURBER and the restored 1973 Lavey Super Stock of Ken Dorn’s that raced as SUNDOWNER, SS-39.
Through sheer number of entries, the Cracker Boxes were the top class at this year’s reunion. Taking center stage was Bob Overcash’s HOT CINDERS, 80-P. The boat’s many APBA High Point, Kilo and National Championships date back to 1961. The name HOT CINDERS is synonymous with Bob and Tom Patterson, who started racing and building Cracker Boxes back in the early 1950’s. Bob built a wide variety of winning Patterson Custom Hulls over the years. Present were Bob and John St. John, winners of the 1966 Super Stock Nationals with the yellow and mahogany Patterson, SHOCKWAVE, 88-SS. Attendee Rocky Hartland drove a Patterson Cracker, PLAYMATE, 2-P (originally the 1950’s HOT CINDERS), capturing two National Championships. Chuck King recalled driving his BLACK BART, 11-F against Laird Pierce’s Patterson hydro, MISS PARCO, 55-F (a former 266 National Champ). Along with the 80-P, other Patterson’s on display were the 1969 SK of Howard Smith and Bill Brandenburg’s 1961 Ski-racer, ALLEY CAT. The two hydroplanes on display were Harlan Orrin JR’s, 1964 Wickens designed 280, AGITATOR, E-167 and Allan Ford’s CALIFORNIA KID, 1986 1 Litre National Champ. Ford brought along the Dr. F.T. Barron Perpetual Trophy that dates back to the early 40’s. Awarded to the winner of a yearly 10 mile race on Oakland’s Lake Merritt, the engraved names read as a whose who of California racers. The late, great Lou Fageol’s name was on the old trophy, much to the delight of his nephew, John. 
Mike Reitman didn’t have his 266 hydro, WHA HOPPEN, ready for display but was present to gather info from such greats as Bud Meyer, Red Reeder, Bobby Sykes and Bill Dugranrut. Joining the group was legendary engine builder Louis Unser, brother of Indy 500 winners, Al and Bobby. Louis started building engines for the boat-racing crowd after Dick Freek requested an engine for his Ski-racing hull in 1965. By 1967 Unser teamed with Bud Gilbert in order to keep up with the demand for racing engines.
Roger Murphy’s widow graciously loaned six leather bound photo albums to John and Betty Sherin, for the reunion. During the 1950’s, Roger drove a record holding 225 and 7 Litre, both named GALLOPING GAEL. He and his brother Jay were also active in the Unlimiteds piloting BREATHLESS I and II. The photo albums also contained fascinating newspaper articles and score sheets and were greatly enjoyed by all that viewed them.
Two of the most notable owners in flatbottom circle racing during the 1960’s and 70’s were in attendance. Ron Woodruff campaigned the Schiada, PSYCHEDLIC, SS-82 driven by Native American, Clem McCullah that dominated Super Stocks in 1968-69. Rick Williams financed the yellow and blue Sanger KRR, TROJAN GHOST driven by standout, Bob Long.
Rudy Ramos, owner of RaysonCraft and a long time racer, must have enjoyed the program’s cover art by Yoder. His old racing partner, the late Ed Olson, was featured driving his wild ERR, CREAM PUFF III, 76-E. Olson claimed to have flipped a total of 18 times in his 30+ years of racing.
Andy Casale returned for this year’s reunion. His father, Ernie, campaigned a 5-time Pacific Coast Championship Midget before becoming involved in boat racing by machining a steering link for a 1953 Unlimited. In 1956 Casale manufactured the first 12-degree Vee-drive for inboards, which became an immediate success. Andy was already working with his father when they developed a Vee-drive for MISS BARDAHL.
Women in racing were certainly present. Ruthelyn Plummer was very active in Southern Cal boat racing and was an editor for BOAT NEWS. Both of her late husbands, Clay Smith (engine magician for ALTER EGO) and Red Wilson (ERR record holder) left their marks on racing history. Jean “Ma Bale” Gravelle was present to honor her late sons Dwight and Mac Bale who drove Blown Fuel Hydros to many APBA and NDBA victories and records in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. They were talented, fearless competitors driving the 190-mph Fuelers such as DOWN N OUT, OUT A SIGHT, CLIMAX and CONQUEST. Mary McCully, one of the few women to have raced a Blown Fueler, once added a passenger seat to her hydro, PROUD MARY, and took Indy star Mario Andretti for a 160+ mph ride at Long Beach Stadium. A ride, I bet, he still hasn’t forgotten.
Bob Garner’s presence was a reminder to water dragsters of his green and white Miller, LIL SKI MER.  Bob a consistent winner in Blown Gas Flat, set a 1967 APBA record of 113 mph.  Bill Townley drove his Charger hydro, MUD HEN, in the late 1960’s when it was common to see 10 or more 190-mph Blown Fuelers on race day. Ted Phillips, who wheeled a D & H Blown Fuel Hydro, MIXED EMOTIONS, to a 1965 APBA record, was in attendance. Water drag pioneers, Dan and Hank Sallers, built the D&H “sleds” that resembled SK designs with short steps on the planing surface. The hulls were noted for quick “hole shot” acceleration. Buck Smith returned for 2001 with owner/driver Robert Thomas. Thomas’ MR T dominated Unblown Gas Flat with a Smith design. Buck helped organize the very first water drags meet at Bakersfield’s Hart Park in 1956. He went on to design the Spico hydros and winning flat bottoms such as Todd “Doc” Rawleigh’s blown gasser, HOT TODDY’S GHOST. The Rawleigh boat was one of Larry Swhwabenland’s early record setting rides.
Swhwabenland was the first driver to hit 190 mph in the quarter mile aboard Larry Brigham’s CLIMAX, in 1968. From the early Sanger, WHITE MIST, to the fiberglass record setters, JOKERS WILD, CLIMAX and MR ED, he was the yard stick by which others where compared. Larry, a factory rep for Sanger boats for many years, was one of the many sadden by “Sanger” Jack Davidson’s passing last July.
Barry McCown, who set an APBA Fuel Hydro record of 161 mph aboard his Hallett, BONZAI, was back in 2001 to reminisce of that 1964 feat. McCown lead a flotilla of Rich Hallett hydros that often dominated the early quarter-mile drags. The beautiful birch, pointy-nosed Rich Hallett hydros included: Don Edward’s, GOLDEN KOMOTION; Bob Valenzuela’s, WINDJAMMER; Tom Weeda’s first EL TIGRE and Rene Andre’s, CITATION. Rich even built a few all-wood, dual- engine dragsters, such as land speed merchant, Mickey Thompson’s twin-Pontiac Fueler.

Cream Puff SK-89, 1962 Millville, NJ driver Pete Barden takes 1st place.

Photo Caption:
Rudy Ramos of Gardena, CA, one the most successful flat bottom drivers and boat-builders has been at the forefront of ski, circle, drag and marathon racing for nearly 50 years. Founder and President of Rayson-Craft, Ramos built the hulls for APBA’s 1960 SK National Champion Ed Olson, CREAM PUFF V, 10-SK and 1966 Champ Ron Larsen, QUICKY TOO, SK-73. He teamed with Olson to win the Salton Sea 500 Marathon with the 20 ft. Allison powered, PHFFT-CREAM PUFF, U-9 in 1961 and ‘64. 

©2001 Tom D'Eath