We met a couple of those guys when we visited the Hydroplane and Race Boat Museum for the first time, a place that is less than fifteen minutes from our house.
I wanted to take the kids, and Jill said "I want to go!", so we did it on a day that she could join us. I also wanted to make a donation.
I found this little wooden hydroplane several years ago at the Fremont Street Market. It is a classic example of the homemade wooden hydros that kids made and pulled behind their bikes. It also happens to be a model of one of the most famous boats, the Miss Budweiser, or The Bud, as it was lovingly, or disgustedly, called. I thought is was something that should be preserved.
The name of its first owner in inscribed on the back. If anyone knows who this might be, I want him to know that his toy is now in the hydro museum. The roughed up paint tells the story of being dragged and flipped behind your bike, Thomas.
We went in to the museum and I talked to one of the boat guys. He was very pleased to accept my little boat, we talked a little about it's history, and he pointed out that the real one was right out there in the lot!Yep, that's it!
Then we toured the museum with our expert guide.
This Bud won the championships in 1970 and 71, driven by Dean Chenowith. You can see that the cockpit is open and sits behind the big piston engine.
Chenoweth was killed in 1982, when his boat flipped and crushed him. The boat owner, Bernie Little, the wealthiest of the boat owners, then began to develop the enclosed cockpit, that has saved many drivers lives.
But we were never fans of The Bud. Our boat was the Blue Blaster, the Atlas Van Lines, driven by the fearless Bill Muncey.
Unfortunately Bill also died in his boat, flipping in San Diego in 1981. I remember when the kids and I heard of his death in October of that year, after cheering him on in that year's Seafair race. Jill was eight and Jake was six. We all cried.
Bill said that if anything ever happened to him he wanted Chip Hanauer to take over for him. Chip did, in this new boat.
Chip continued the winning ways, surviving several flips thanks to the enclosed cockpits that became standard, and retired just one win short of his idol, Bill Muncey.
There are little speedy boats as well as the big guys.
This is a model of the hydro that changed boat racing. Developed in 1950 by a Seattle man, Stan Sayres, the Slo-Mo-Shun IV was the first boat to fly over the water instead of through the water. Hydroplaning was born and he brought the sport to Seattle.
This is the old Pay'n Pac.
It was a fun field trip!