Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Visit to the Hydroplane and Race boat Museum

For many of you, this museum would not mean much. But if you have lived around Seattle most of your life, you will know a little about hydroplanes, and some old timers can spend hours talking about their favorite boats and drivers.

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 a working museum where they actually bring historic boats back to life. 
 This is the old Pay'n Pac.

 In the lobby Jill and the kids tried out a race boat simulator game while Chip Hanauer looks on. 
It was a fun field trip!


  1. looks like fun, more than I ever knew about hydroplane boats...lol!

  2. I know nothing about these kinds of boats. Thanks for the introduction! :-)

  3. You are in boat country so these would be very interesting. Your trip and description certainly add information.

  4. very cool! We went to the National hydro-plane contest a long time ago in San Diego Mission Bay; it was SO exciting!

  5. You find the most interesting places to visit!!

  6. It looks like a very interesting place. I am struck by how much the grands have grown over the summer. Irene is becoming such a beautiful young lady, and of course, Isaac is a handsome young man.

  7. The Grands make field trips so much fun.

  8. Ah, the need for speed. What a cool museum...and so thoughtful of you to make that donation.

  9. Once a year our ears are filled with the sounds of those big boats on Mission Bay. Really exciting stuff.

  10. I never cease to be amazed at all the 'field trips' you find for your family. This one is amazing. Also fun you had something to contribute.

  11. Oh I hope you find Thomas. Wouldn't that be cool for you and him?
    You do take the neatest trips with the grands. I remember Miss Budweiser from when my good friend Andy raced. One boat Andy drove was the Miss Madison and he did race in Seattle.

  12. Wow, did that ever stir up memories. I had no idea there was a museum and the next time I get to Seattle I will be sure to take that in. When I was in high school in the late 50's, our family was lucky enough to get to watch the races from the boom on a Wakefield trawler. No wonder its always sunny in my memories.

  13. Interesting museum. I'm sure my husband would enjoy a tour if we get out to Seattle again one day.

  14. What great memories Linda. Didn't we all love the handsome Bill Muncey. haha!

    Those older boats sure take me back. We loved the hydros. I know they have changed and probably for the better but today the Roostertails just aren't the same. The sound is different also.

    Yes Bob does all the splitting by himself. Actually he drops the trees out in our woods. The he saws them into rounds we haul them up to the shop and he splits and stacks them in the shed. I tell him to go easy cause I want him around a little longer well a lot longer. He is 82 and tells me he paces himself. I hope so. I help him too.

  15. You have so many things to see in your area. Your grandkids are lucky to be taken everywhere.


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