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
BOB SILVA’S WEST COAST REPORT:
SECOND ANNUAL BOAT RACER’S REUNION
Lake Irvine, CA was the setting for the Second
Annual Boat Racer’s Reunion on September 22nd. On display were over 20
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
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,
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
VINTAGE HOT BOAT OF THE MONTH:
Cream Puff SK-89, 1962 Millville, NJ
driver Pete Barden takes 1st place.
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
©2001 Tom D'Eath