The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'The Antiquated' started by George Klass, Oct 20, 2019.
I have always loved the "Thunder Boats" from the 1950's and 1960's....
Have you watched the movie Madison?
Guess that whole “traditional hot rods and kustoms” thing includes boats now? Maybe we can let the VW guys in now too?
Ryan started a vintage boat thread....maybe ask him?
Wide World of Sports, who could forget "The Thunder Boats"! Thanks, George.
I LOVE the blending of the sprint car/champ car tail structure and dash/cowl into SlowMoShun......beautiful !!
I quit going to the Gold Cup races on the Detroit River when the unlimited went to turbine power. Sounds like fuckin vacuum cleaners ! Nothing in the world sounds like a Merlin hitting the nitrous button on the straights ! Yowza.
The Skip-a-Long based out of Lake Tahoe built in late forties by 2 wealthy and locals did fairly well in goldcup races. Ran once in Tahoe in the early fifties and sunk while being towed in. Recovered in 1982. Survived well as it was all aluminum and sunk in fresh water. Still exists (unrestored) in the Lake Tahoe Maritime Museum
Thank you for this thread!! When they went to turbines I just lost interest : they just don't sound "RIGHT:!!
I will post up some other photos from that era (1950's-1960's). People may be surprised that there were so many Unlimited Hydros during this period. To some extent, it was an illusion. Many of these boats were raced for only a season or two, and then sold to other teams (underfunded teams often raced used boats), which is why you may notice that the same race number appears on several different boats (most teams retained the race number used by the previous owner). For instance, take the case of the boat BREATHLESS, which was owned and raced as a hobby by Roger and Jay Murphy. It was built in 1954 and raced from 1954 through 1957, when they built a new boat, BREATHLESS II. The race number for BREATHLESS was U-22. Hull numbers were assigned to each boat. The hull number for BREATHLESS is 1954-22 (the year it was built followed by the race number.). People like me, that have always been interested in the Unlimiteds could easily follow the lineage of a particular boat if I knew the hull number. BREATHLESS sat around for awhile collecting dust while the team raced their new boat, BREATHLESS II, (built in 1957, hull number 1957-222) which was and eventually sold off in the 1960's. So, what happened to hull number 1957-222? It raced as:
BLUE CHIP (1963-1964)
THE LOANER (1966)
MISS WICKMAN (1967)
SHAKEY'S SPECIAL (1973)
SUNNY JIM (1974)
BARNEY ARMSTRONG'S MACHINE (1976)
MISTER FABRICATOR (1977)
BRUNO'S APPLIANCE) (1977)
RIVERS INLET RESORT (1977)
TAD DEAN'S BODY SHOP (1977)
HULING'S PEOPLE MOVER (1977)
PACIFIC DATSUN (1977)
DR. TOYOTA (1978)
SHRADER WOOD STOVES (1979)
INGRAM CLASS OF 69 (1979)
PRECISION MARINE (1979)
LIL OLE LAKE CITY (1980)
JOSE MURPHY (1980)
MISS ISLAND SECURITY SYSTEMS (1982)
Most of the boats listed raced above under race number U-22
In 1991, hull number 1957-222 was painted to duplicate HAWAII KAI III, the race number was changed to U-8, and used in the motion picture MADISON. This boat, the original BREATHLESS II, hull number 1957-222, is still around and still capable of running 170 mph and as of 2018, is currently painted in the colors of BLUE CHIP. Sixty two years old and still going strong. Okay, a few more photos...
Two is better than one (when talking about hookers) but the added horsepower didn't really compensate for the added weight.
This is one of those "hold your breath moments".
SLO-MO-SHUN IV, the boat that started a revolution in Gold Cup boats. There were 3-point hydros before this, but this design changed everything after 1950. Designed by Ted Jones, and owned and frequently driven by Stanley Sayers (as well as other drivers). As you can see by looking at the photos I posted, this design lasted through the 1950's, '60's, and the '70's. The upper part of the hulls changed over the years but under water, all the boats were pretty much a mirror image of this boat. The Gold Cup race was held in Detroit in 1950, and had been for years. Stan Sayers brought this boat back to Detroit and entered it in the event. There were those that snickered when they saw it, said it would never be able to turn. SLO-MO-SHUN IV won all three 30-mile heats of the 1950 contest with Ted Jones driving. In the first heat of the day, SLO-MO lapped the entire field, which included the 1949 Gold Cup winner MY SWEETIE. The smiles faded and were replaced by "what in the hell was that?". At that event, every Gold Cup boat built before SLO-MO-IV was rendered obsolete..
I saved this photo for last. I had seen several photos of this boat over the years, and always wondered how come it never had a race number. And then I was told by someone that the reason it never had a number was that the owner never raced the boat. It turns out that he purchased the boat just to tool around at 160 mph to have some fun and to scare the hell out of the local fishermen on their bass boats.
The Annual Gold Cup event goes back aways, a long ways back. The first Gold Cup race was held in 1904, on the Hudson River. It drew a lot of people and was a success. In 1916, the event was moved to Detroit, and ran on the Detroit River, where it was held for many years. The first time that a 3-point hydroplane won the event was in 1939 (the year I was born). There were three or four other 3-point hydros racing at that event, one of which is the subject of this post. In early 1939, Lou Fageol had a well known race bout builder (Ventnor) build him a 3-point hydro, to be named SO LONG. The hull was 20-feet long and held part of a Curtiss aircraft engine. The Curtiss was a 12-cylinder engine and Lou used half of it. But even at only half, the engine put out 450 HP.
The original 3-point hydros were not "prop riders", but more like speedboat hulls with sponsons tacked onto the bow.
Here is a photo of Lou with his brand new '40 Ford Deluxe. Lou was bucks-up, he owned a company that manufactured buses. He was also involved with SLO MO as a driver in 1950. Anyway, he eventually sold SO LONG to a family of three brothers in Detroit, the Dobbins Bros. They too had plenty of coin, they were distributors of soft drinks all around Detroit. One of the drinks they sold was Pepsi Cola. and so, they renamed the boat MISS PEPSI using the famous Pepsi script. They also installed a bigger engine. Boat racers are just like hot rodders, and if the engine is too big to fit, they will figure out how to MAKE it fit. The engine they installed was an Allison V-12 (remember, the hull was only 20 fee long). Actually, they had no problem installing the engine but there was one problem. There was now no place for the driver to sit. So they just stuck the cockpit off the back of the boat behind the transom.
When you mount a 1,500 HP engine in a 20-foot boat, it's going to get right along and it did. MISS PEPSI won some races but then another problem came up.
The Gold Cup race was for "gentlemen". These big events were for people that raced boats for a hobby, and Corporate Sponsors were a no-no. The winner received a trophy, no money ever changed hands. This did not stop the Dossin Bros., they changed the name of the boat, to MISS PEPS, they dropped the "i". But since they didn't change the script, everyone knew it was really Pepsi.
Can hardly tell the difference, can you?
After a few years, (early 1950's) the Dossin's sold MISS PEPS to a gentleman who I had actually met when I was just a lad, by the name of Stanley Dollar. A perfect name, because Stanley owned a huge steam ship company
(Dollar Steamship Lines) and the logo on the funnels of all of his ships had a $ sign on them.
As I said, he had some big ships.
He painted it blue and renamed the boat SHORT SNORTER.
It looks like Stan at the helm buckling his life vest, getting ready of another race. He entered pretty much ever race they held at Lake Tahoe, and when there was no race that weekend, he would bring the SNORTER over to Henry Kaiser's estate, to see if Henry wanted to get one of his Unlimited Hydros out for a little fun. Grown men and their toys. In the summers when I was in High School, I worked for Henry so I got to see all these shenanigans up close.
The SHORT SNORTER is still up at Tahoe, exactly where or who owns it now I can't say. Maybe it's up at the Museum in Tahoe City, I don't know. I know that when Stanley sold it, he had this monster (photo below) built.
A full on 3-point Unlimited Hydroplane with a rear mounted Allison with a V-drive, built in 1948.
It was actually a very competitive boat and raced in several events. I think that Stan plum wore the boat out racing (and "testing", which is what all those guys said they were doing when they were just blasting around the lake having fun). The boat sank in 1949, went to the bottom of Lake Tahoe, and for many years, nobody could find it (the lake is as deep as 1,600 feet in places). But in 1984, someone eventually did find it (at about 500 feet), and got it up. It was in remarkable good condition (the hull and deck were all aluminum).
Stanley eventually sold all of his ships to the American President Steamship Lines, but never stopped messing around with race boats.
The evolution of this hull, #1958-25. Began life in 1958 as MISS SPOKANE, raced under that name through 1961. and then was either sold to a new owner or was newly sponsored by MISS EAGLE ELECTRIC.
Raced as MISS EAGLE ELECTRIC from 1963-1964, and then was rebranded as MISS LAPEER.
Raced under this name from 1965 through 1967...
Separate names with a comma.