Florida Vintage Raceboat Club https://fvrc.club Wed, 20 Mar 2019 00:41:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 165033168 Sport and Spectacle – Speedboat Racing on the St. Lawrence https://fvrc.club/sport-and-spectacle-speedboat-racing-st-lawrence/ https://fvrc.club/sport-and-spectacle-speedboat-racing-st-lawrence/#respond Wed, 20 Mar 2019 00:36:01 +0000 https://fvrc.club/?p=626 The post Sport and Spectacle – Speedboat Racing on the St. Lawrence appeared first on Florida Vintage Raceboat Club.

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By Martha Grimes

Shortly after the turn of the century, this area of the Thousand Islands hosted the fabulous Gold Cup Races nine times, in a span of ten years. An article published in a 1906 issue of The Motor Boat described the St. Lawrence River as “the home of the speedboat.” The Chippewa Yacht Club hosted the race from 1905 until 1908, but lacking their own clubhouse for entertaining, the race course was moved to the section of River between Alexandria Bay and Clayton. The Thousand Islands Yacht Club and the Frontenac Yacht Club were able to accommodate post-race socializing in their own club houses. Races were hosted by the Thousand Islands Yacht Club in 1909, 1910, 1912, and 1913, with the Frontenac Club doing the honors in 1911.

PDQ II, sponsored by the T.I. Yacht Club, erased the 1904 record of 23.6 mph set on the Hudson River by Standard, with the astonishing new record of 36.8 mph in the 1912 Gold Cup Race held in Alexandria Bay.

The 1930s and 40s heralded the arrival of crowd-pleasing regatta events featuring 135 cu. in. and 225 cu. in. inboards. Spectators lining the shores of Alexandria Bay were also treated to the thrilling maneuvers of outboard hydroplanes and service craft. Dr. Walter G. Robinson was a hometown favorite, who set records and won cups throughout the United States and Canada in his splashy 225 Hydroplane, Mr. Dockit. His speed of 83.00 mph shattered the 1941 world record of 73.170 mph set by Joseph Taggert on the five-mile course at St. Sulpice, Quebec in 1949.

Read more.

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In the Seat of a Vintage “Flyby” https://fvrc.club/in-the-seat-of-a-vintage-flyby/ https://fvrc.club/in-the-seat-of-a-vintage-flyby/#respond Sun, 11 Nov 2018 23:13:49 +0000 https://fvrc.club/?p=418 In the Seat of a Vintage “Flyby” An owner/driver of a vintage raceboat brings three things to the Regatta; a well restored, properly functioning Vintage Raceboat, documentation of the boat’s restoration and history, and an in-water demonstration of this restored piece of history known as ‘The Flyby”. The Flyby is an opportunity for the owner/driver […]

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In the Seat of a Vintage “Flyby”

An owner/driver of a vintage raceboat brings three things to the Regatta; a well restored, properly functioning Vintage Raceboat, documentation of the boat’s restoration and history, and an in-water demonstration of this restored piece of history known as ‘The Flyby”. The Flyby is an opportunity for the owner/driver to put his or her driving and operating skills to the test. Putting aside all the hours of research, craftsmanship, and mechanicals, this is where drivers have to recall or learn skills that are practiced by very few. Often the boat and or driver of a vintage raceboat have noteworthy history. You are encouraged to look at the story boards for each boat as they provide the history of each boat, sometimes sketchy, but always a story. Once discovered, these boats have been invested in (blood, sweat, tears, and a whole lot of money) to bring them to the state in which you see them. These shining hulks of mahogany, plywood, fiberglass, steel, and aluminum could have been mold covered wrecks just a few short months ago.

A good restoration involves research with attention to materials and details to replace pieces and parts that are no longer safe to operate. Untold hours and dollars go into getting a boat ready to run safely around the course. Structurally the boat must be sound and pass a rigorous safety inspection before it is allowed on the course. A performance engine is not like an engine in the family’s minivan. On a good day the motor in a raceboat is finicky. On a bad day it can be your worst nightmare. These motors are designed to go all out. Think of your car going down the interstate turning a cool 2300 rpm at 65 mph. You barely hear the motor. Now, double the speed, eliminate the 4 or 5 speed transmission, and what do you get? A screaming 120 mph boat with a motor turning 5000-9000 rpm. I can’t hear you! Actually…I can’t hear anything!

So you’re a spectator watching a Flyby. Here’s a little of what it feels like “In the seat of a Vintage flyby” as shared by a number of drivers you will see running this weekend.

Unlimited'sOk safety check I’ve got my drivers suit on, closed shoes, lifejacket and helmet, kill switch connected. 90 degrees and 90% humidity, I am hot in this outfit! Ok the boat is launched. Man she looks good in the water! I love this stuff! I’m sitting in the cockpit in my assigned pit area surrounded by people looking at me. I’ll bet the people are thinking, how cool would it be to be in that raceboat with the lifejacket, helmet, gleaming wood, and shining metal. I’m thinking, please God, let the motor start. Switch on, gauges jump, fuel? Yup, got enough fuel. Engage starter, motor cranking, come on baby…the motor roars to life! Some in neutral and some literally catching the driver by the seat of the pants and they are off like a rocket. Slam down the visor. Here we go. As I leave the pits picking up speed look to the left to merge into the racecourse traffic. Careful, watch out for my buddies. Check the course flags and lights. We’re good to go! Come on propeller, dig in! Oh yeah, now we’ve got action! I thought they said it was calm out here! My teeth are slamming together! Not hot any more! The wind and spray feels great! On the straightaway now, more throttle, whoops was that the carburetor that hiccupped? Quick check of flags and lights; keep going! Okay I’m headed into turn two and not too sure which direction to head, where are those shore points I marked?! Was it over here or over there? Some traffic now. Whoa! He’s getting close, does he know where he is going? Do I? Throttle down some, don’t over steer it, man it’s choppy, keep the hull right side up. Wave over the deck! Wipe the spray off the visor so I can see! Coming up now! Whoa I caught some air! Feather the throttle! Steady on the wheel! How do I reduce the pain to my body? Hah! The crew chief had asked for a check on the gauges for his feedback when back in the pits, it’s rough out here! Every time I look down, all I see is a blur! Check the flags and course lights; everything’s cool! Okay on the long back side straightaway! Hit the throttle! Oh man, feel this baby take off! My teeth are chattering! Steady on the wheel, inside lane, left turn, always a left turn. By the docks now, look Ma one hand! Wave to the crowd! BIG SMILE! Everything sounds good, smells good and seams to be working good so it must be good. Still can’t see the gauges! Arriving at the dock now with another successful run under the belt, my buds pulling in along side. Feels great! Like I just finished a world record run no matter how fast or slow we were going. Loved the waves from the crowd! Listen to this baby purr. She’s as happy as I am doing what she does best.

With strict safety guidelines in effect our participants challenge themselves and their equipment in the Flyby. All raceboats love to go fast and straight. Few raceboats like to go around corners fast. Add in some waves, boat traffic, quirky hull characteristics, mechanical performance issues, and a good dose of adrenalin and you are in for a treat.

Did we mention that APBA Rescue Team? They’re out there watching, and ready. Have fun! And don’t forget to wave!

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Grand Prix: In the Beginning https://fvrc.club/grand-prix-in-the-beginning/ https://fvrc.club/grand-prix-in-the-beginning/#respond Sun, 11 Nov 2018 22:40:21 +0000 https://fvrc.club/?p=414 GRAND PRIX: IN THE BEGINNING By Fred Farley Grand Prix Class hydroplane racing has long been considered the epitome of automotive-powered inboard racing. The sight and sound of these magnificent boats with their souped-up V-8 engines at full song is an experience like no other in motor sports. Grand Prix boats began making their presence […]

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GRAND PRIX: IN THE BEGINNING

By Fred Farley

Grand Prix Class hydroplane racing has long been considered the epitome of automotive-powered inboard racing.

The sight and sound of these magnificent boats with their souped-up V-8 engines at full song is an experience like no other in motor sports.

Grand Prix boats began making their presence felt on the Canadian Boating Federation (CBF) circuit in the 1960s. There was a considerable fleet of them in and around Valleyfield, Quebec. The GPs were an outgrowth of the old 7-Litre Class that rose to prominence in the late 1940s.

Nicknamed “The Big Iron,” these boats were a minimum of 20 feet in length with engines of up to 500 cubic inches in piston displacement. Many were supercharged and any kind of fuel was permitted.

An early star of Canadian Grand Prix racing was the legendary Art Asbury. Driving Aubert Brillant’s Chrysler-hemi-powered CANADIANA GRAND PRIX, Asbury set a UIM world straightaway record of 153.746 miles per hour in 1965 at Beloil, Quebec.

The American Power Boat Association (APBA) first took notice of the Grand Prix phenomenon in 1974. The GPs made their United States debut on the narrow Scioto River at Columbus, Ohio. The original winner of a non-Canadian GP race was Larry Lauterbach, driving John Stauffer’s EDELWEISS, designed and built by Larry’s father Henry Lauterbach of Portsmouth, Virginia.

Lauterbach hulls dominated the first few years of Grand Prix racing in the United States. In addition to EDELWEISS, such notable Lauterbach entries included the likes of LAUTERBACH SPECIAL, GOLDEN NUGGET.l, DEEPWATER SPECIAL, BOOMERANG, ADVANCE UNITED, HEAVY HAULER, and EL CONDOR.

No one ever complained about the quality of workmanship on a Lauterbach hull! These boats were built strong to last long! And they loved horsepower! These were conventional hulls with the driver sitting behind–rather than ahead of–the engine well.

At a time when the sport in general was changing over to cabover–or forward-cockpit–hulls, popularized by Ron Jones, Sr., the old-style Lauterbach hulls remained surprisingly competitive.

Some of the biggest names in boat racing are associated with Grand Prix racing in the early days. Many of these made reputations for themselves in unlimited hydroplanes as well. These included Larry Lauterbach, Chip Hanauer, Tom D’Eath, Jim Kropfeld, Howie Benns, John Prevost, Ron Snyder, and Terry Turner.

The class received its first major league shot in the arm in 1977 at Detroit, where they performed before an audience of a quarter million. The Spirit of Detroit Association (SODA) invited the GPs to be the co-feature together with the Unlimiteds. This came about largely through the efforts of SODA board member John Love. Love had attended several Canadian Grand Prix races with his friend Tom D’Eath and was impressed with the competitiveness of the Grand Prix Class.

Love soon became GP Chairman for APBA. Nicknamed “The Boy Commissioner,” John did much to smooth out the differences between the APBA and CBF factions of Grand Prix. No longer were conflicting race dates assigned to the detriment of all. More teams from both countries began patronizing each other’s races.

Terry Turner won the first Detroit GP race with LAUTERBACH SPECIAL. This was the first time that the Unlimited Class and the Grand Prix Class had ever occupied the same pit area with each other. It would not be the last. Turner defeated such formidable challengers as Stover Hire in MOONSHOT, New Zealand Champion Peter Knight in GONE HEAVY, “crown/clown prince” Jules LeBouef in BOOMERANG, and Bill Hodge in LONG GONE.Turner and the Chevy-powered LAUTERBACH SPECIAL likewise won the GP race at Dayton, Ohio, and went on to claim the Grand Prix Class National High Point Championship in 1977. They had stiff opposition from the Ron Jones-designed LONG GONE, which won that year’s Guadalahara, Mexico, and Mexico City, Mexico, Grand Prix races.

The Chrysler hemi-powered LONG GONE emerged as season points champion in 1978. LAUTERBACH SPECIAL, co-driven by Chip Hanauer and Tom D’Eath, was back on top in 1979.

Perhaps the most eloquent showcase of Grand Prix racing in the early days of the class was the GP Nationals on the Ohio River at Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1979. Hanauer and LAUTERBACH SPECIAL, owned by Don Ryan, reeled off three first places in as many heats to claim the title.

The start of the Final Championship Heat was close with four boats pouring into the tight first turn together. LAUTERBACH SPECIAL and DEEPWATER TOO with Tom Baker duked it out down the backstretch with Baker keeping the pressure on Hanauer until hull damage forced the DEEPWATER entry out of the race.

Marty Niles stayed in contention with OLYMPIAD but was disqualified for missing a marker. Tom “Butch” Kropfeld and GOLDEN NUGGET took runner-up, and Bill Hodge finished third with LONG GONE.

Defending champion Larry Lauterbach, who had captured the 1978 GP Nationals at the Minneapolis Aquatennial Regatta, never recovered from a late start with PEANUT and managed only a fourth in the furious competition, ahead of Ty Cobb in FLYIN’ LOW and 62-year-old Paul Bauer in BIG KAT-N-NAN V.

Hanauer posted heat times of 100.334, 94.467, and 99.938 in the Bellingham, Washington-based entry. Fastest heat of the day went to Baker and DEEPWATER TOO who did 101.930 in the 2-B section. Hodge and LONG GONE also cleared the century mark with a 100.649 reading in 1-B.

Grand Prix boats of today have little in common with their predecessors of yesteryear. A modern GP craft is a technological marvel with a cabover configuration and an aircraft-style safety canopy.

A 1970s GP was, more often than not, a beefed-up 7-Litre with the driver sitting behind the engine in an open cockpit.

Given the increasing number of active boats in recent years, the Grand Prix clan’s best sale point is an individual heat of racing, where the level of competition can be absolutely incredible–hardcore, auto-powered race boating at its gut-wrenching best.

Some of the finest inboard teams in the world are flocking to join “The Big Iron.” The real winners, the fans, eagerly await the results.

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