Well here is a gem from my past, found while looking at some historic photos of the APBA from several decades ago. The fella driving the hydroplane is my father. The photo was taken in 1967 at an unknown to me location but I can speculate that it may have been taken at Constantine, Michigan or DePue, Illinois.

This all wooden hydro once held the world speed record around 120mph I think but there is no way I can document that. The hull is built of marine grade plywood and powered by a six cylinder, 2 cycle outboard engine. The exhaust system was direct, using the pipes, or stacks visible protruding from the rear.

Under the hull at the stern you can see the propeller holding the rear of the boat up, assisted by the tunnel of air passing under the boat. Further forward the cornering fin is visible which assists with the all-left turns the boat makes around the course. Would you want to go 100+ miles per hour in a 12 foot wooden boat?

Before I die and leave this world, this has always been a dream of mine. A dream that began in the mid 1960’s when I was just five and six years old. Standing directly behind this boat as it fired up and left the beach is something that stays with you a lifetime. The smell of the wood, the smell of the Methanol fuel. Heavenly.

I could write a very long winded post on this subject but from this point, it would become a load of technical data of which I suspect would be of no interest to most readers. When you grow up on a lake and having the experiences of boat racing from your days as a knee-high, into adulthood you find you have boats in your blood!

About John

John is a native of Michigan, the Great Lakes State, he is 56 years young and retired. I've been using WordPress since 2000 with various websites both self-hosted and the WP.com side. Thanks for visiting my website!

11 Responses

  1. Interesting … also the comments here. My father died when I was two. I don’t remember him at all, but always felt as if I missed him. In my younger days I used to speculate in what things would have been like if he’d been around. Next year it will be sixty years since he died. I have a pencil drawing he made of himself.

    1. Thanks James. He is very brave indeed, I have asked him about what it is like to throttle that boat up on plane and race it. He once said it’ll make you shit your pants the first time or two. Very scary but he managed to win several titles with this boat, his trusty mechanic Marv always keeping the Looper engine finely tuned. He did not build the boat.

      The hull was built by a man named Ron Jones, who had built many racing outboard hulls over the years which were big winning designs. The hull shape is very finely tuned for air flow underneath as the boat rides on a cushion of air at speed.

          1. Mine died 50 years ago – almost to the day. He worked nights so I rarely saw him. I hardly remember him at all, I just have one old b/w photo of him. But – in a funny sort of way – I miss him. I would probably not have strayed off the straight and narrow if he was around when I was growing up.

            1. I am sorry about your father, James. So you got in trouble as a kid? Welcome to the club my friend. I was a lil’ bastard at times coming up… Later in life I apologized to both parents for my bullshit. It was well received. Glad I got that chance before my mum passed in 2012. Her and I had a fabulous relationship.

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