Tuesday, August 14, 2018

RETRO: Trundlin' Down Memory Lane

As perhaps it's a sign 'O life? And what stage I'm in, albeit not sure if it's the Compression or Exhaust Stroke? Whilst Waxing Nostalgic upon where My Racing Bug came from, especially since I'm in the midst of creating a New Chapter 'O life upon moving...

This past Father's Day weekend, in his typical No Nonsense Prose, 'Ye OLDEST IndyCar Blogger; Hya! Geo. Phillips of Oilppressure fame, wrote a very touching article about how his love for Indy Cars was spawned by his late Father.

Yet as I've mused here multiple times on No Fenders, in a different lifetime I'd typically be seated Trackside at Portland International Raceway for the yearly Father's Day CART/PPG IndyCar race. When Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) invaded the Pacific Northwest.

Whilst I've definitely got mixed emotions over attending this year's Portland Indy Cars event, which is  a whole different story for another day. But I'm glad I'm going...

          Although I cannot say my Pops' Tomas, Sr. is a REVHEAD' by any stretch of the imagination, but he did ignite some early Motoring tendencies in me, with the two coolest Cars he drove.

As I most fondly remember these two particular machines. The first being a "Plain Jane" 1969 Ford Mustang two-tone Coupe, which I believe was "Slime Green" with a Faux Black vinyl top.

Since all I recall, besides the unusual, but very cool looking "Quad" four round Headlights, is it's being an automatic, presumably a three-speed? Situated in the center console, with its traditional T-shape handle.

And although apparently Thars' quite a few variations of what was available for ordering for the base model Coupes, I also recall it had black leather? Bucket Seats. While I'd ARSE-Sume' he opted for the base 302cid "2V" V-8 lump, as all I can guess is that the 2V stood for 2 Venturi, i.e.; carburetor?

while who really knows? Especially since I couldn't see the Speedometer, but I always revel over the time Pops' said shall we see how fast we can go? During an early morning romp upon the Freeway. Before telling me we were doing the unthinkable - blastin' away at 120mph! Meaning the speedometer would have been "Pegged!" Which as a 'Wee lad, totally intoxicated my "Need for Speed!"

While the second "Cool Car" I've previously scribbled 'bout on No Fenders, was his elegantly penned Silver Porsche 924...

As Tomas, Sr. was more passionate about Unlimited Hydroplanes, albeit he was a Pride of Pay 'N Pak guy, who were the scourge of Mwah, since I quickly gravitated towards those iconic blood red "Beer Wagons," a la The Bud, or formally known as Miss Budweiser.

As how many car washes did I have to do during our yearly Seafair wagers due to that Dreaded Pak beating the Bud; URGH!

Although Pops' did take me to Seattle International Raceway in Kent, WA, presumably my first ever racetrack outing, as his late co-worker Jan was either "Crewing" or racing his own Sports Car there, for which I can no longer remember the exact details...

And lastly, by sheer happenstance, in one of the houses we moved into, I discovered an original Steve McQueen Le Mans poster. The iconic one depicting this Ultra Bad Arse staring towards Yuhs, with those steely frost blue eyes, in those legendous' gulf Oil Overalls, with his Balaclava?  Or more likely Firesuit's Nomex exposed underneath his chiseled jaw.

While I also found the partial remains of two Kiwi Orange TamiyaMcLaren Can An cars, of fairly large-ish scale, probably being to radio controlled (RC) models? Since the molded plastic was bright orange, and I vaguely tend to think I found some very small gage wiring also?

Tending to recall having found mostly just bodywork pieces to those Uber' NASTY! Ground Poundin' seven litre Chevrolet Big Block Can Am Beasts featuring prominently in "The Bruce & Denny Show!"

And that's some of the Kindling used to begin what's ultimately become my life's passion of Motor Racing.

whilst Pops' also introduced me to several Rock Bands, including the Little River Band, who's first hit was It's A Long Way There, clocking in at an unheard Mondo' length 'O 8:38 Mates!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

HYDROS: Long Forgotten Raceboat Museum Visit Thunders On

One of the countless Miss Budweiser's Dangles over Lake Coeur d'Alene - Year unknown. (Image source: thunderfest.com)
As why did the roar of a few solitary WWII Vintage Airplanes taking off from Paine Field this past June make me smile over that same symphonic sound those 'Ol piston-powered Hydroplanes used to emanate!

Having left off this streaming Roostertail wake 'O vocabulary upon No Fenders inside our local Unlimited Hydroplanes museum, some dozen-plus years ago, I'm happy to have discovered that they've since increased Thar Rolling Stock, for which you can get a  good idea of their current Hydroplane Armada from their Restorations tab upon their website.

While Y'all can visit the museum's website at the following link;

Continuing our most enjoyable Walkabout thru the facility with Ron, presumably the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum's Curator, He said they’d fix up the Bud', aka the 1980 U-1 Miss Budweiser Hull I'd been Drooling over Real Good once again. Noting it just needed some cosmetic work to the cowlings which are fiberglass along with mechanical repairs.

I asked if the hull was fiberglass? Its aluminum honeycomb. Ron replied I should know because I helped glue the hull together! I also helped the painter.

Ron mentioned how all hydros are painted upside down! This helps keep dust off while painting. Telling Ron that the painter must be good Ron replied he’s good alright, but painters seem to be a bit possessed by the demon spirits (alcohol)

Then I casually told Ron how I’ve been a lifelong Budweiser fan while my Dad was a Pak devotee. Before asking does the museum have any Pay ‘N Pak's?

Then I mentioned that I wanted to view the display cases hidden against the wall behind the Miss Bardahl. We looked at the few Hydroplane models in differing scales, i.e.; Miss Thriftway and the Slo Mo Shun V, along with helmets and other items while Ron gave my Dad a running commentary on the models.

Ron seemed genuinely happy that I wanted to look at everything on display. As Ron mused how everybody goes through the museum too fast...

An excellent large scale model in a solitary display case caught my attention. Although I didn’t recognize the hydro while at the museum, afterwards I seemed to remember the Miller High Life boat better.

I believe this turbine powered boat was campaigned by Jim Lucero and was the boat to beat in the mid-80’s. As I suspect this model was the 1985 boat driven by Chip Hanauer. And it was the 1st turbine powered hull to win a National High Points Championship.

Behind the Wheel...
Unexpectedly, Ron asked me if I’d like to sit in the 1968 Miss Budweiser. How could I refuse an offer like that? Placing my foot onto the deck of the boat, I stepped into the remarkably small cockpit. Ron explained how I needed to wiggle my butt into the form fitting seat...

Go-ahead and play with any of the controls. You turn the steering wheel and drive the boat. With my left foot wedged against the dead pedal and my right on the gas pedal I joyously proceeded to give the steering wheel a few turns!

I noticed how both of my knees were against the steering wheel and Commented on this to Ron. Mentioning how I couldn’t imagine driving in anger like that.

Ron then explained how just like racecars the cockpits were configured to fit the actual drivers, which implies they were much smaller.

Then I asked Ron about the lack of seat belts, what instruments were on the simple dashboard and if the windscreen did any good?

Ron remarked how early on a driver with seat belts had flipped his boat and drown to death! while the few instruments were typical racecar style, i.e.,; Tachometer, Oil & Water pressure.

With the most important being the Oil Pressure warning light. When that goes off you “shut her down” immediately!

After reluctantly climbing out of the U-1 Miss Budweiser's Spartan cockpit, navigating past a few tables laid out, there was still birthday cake leftover from the evening before Ron’s fathers birthday, who’d worked on the Slo Mo Shun V.

Behind the tables across from the Slo Mo was a late 1960's or early '70's? Oh Boy Oberto resting vertically from its trailer.

As the Oh Boy Oberto became famous locally with the likes of Scotty Pierce & Chip Hanauer at the controls.

Whilst alongside the Oh Boy Oberto resided an early 1980’s Atlas Van Lines. Which Ron explained how they'd managed to acquire the original trailer for the boat.
Everything except the transporter which caught fire during one racing season.

When I casually mentioned "Blue Blaster" Ron immediately corrected me, saying that this was Chip’s boat, not the Blue Blaster.

In deference to the Bud being known as the Beer Wagon, Bill Muncey's Atlas Van Lines were nicknamed the Blue Blaster's.

Ron then told us how the museum had recently received permission from Bill’s wife Fran Muncey to restore his boat to running condition. As apparently we had missed seeing this boat, hidden outside.

Unfortunately a sponsor is needed to fund the project. Before Ron explained how excess materials left over from current restoration projects were being saved for use on the boat’s future restoration.

The museum was currently restoring the Miss Hurricane IV. While Ron also enthusiastically mentioned how the Miss Thriftway was being restored on Vashon Island.

Exclaiming how they’ve got a primo Allison primary engine and a good back up motor

Standing next to the Atlas, I was completely overtaken by the paint scheme. As the blue paint is an excellent colour, making it easy to understand how the nickname was definitely appropriate.

Stating this to my Dad, a loud noise was heard from the restoration shop (5,000 Sq. Ft. approx.)  Ron departed hastily to see what they were trying to drop off of the forklift? While pulling the hydroplanes inside, there's always concern over somebody being potentially injured. (which did not occur)

 We decided that this was a good time to "Exit Stage Left!" And leave. Thus we said our goodbyes as Ron returned, thanking him very much for the guided tour.

While my favourite hydroplane will forever be the Miss Budweiser. Unfortunately after 41yrs of sponsorship from Anheiser-Busch and the demise of Bernie Little, The Bud ran its very LAST race that very same October of Twenty-oh-Four. Just one month prior to our initial museum visit. As Budweiser has decided to focus its marketing dollars on RASSCAR'; GROAN!

Therefore, with that said, you'll probably be surprised by My top-3 picks for hydroplanes on display.

As Numero Uno Hands-down is the  black scallop nose trim metallic green dragon Miss Bardahl. "Chip's Boat," the U-00 Atlas Van Lines was runner-up with the Rolls Royce Griffon Miss Budweiser taking the final podium step.

Chip Hanauer, who at the time I thought was tied with the late Bill Muncey as Unlimited Hydroplane Racing’s winningest drivers (62 victories apiece) would be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005.

Fellow inductees joining Chip's class included: Na$car’s ‘ole Boogity-Boogity-Boogity DW. (Darrell Waltrip) Drag Racing's Bob Glidden & Joe Amato and 'Ol Bloody Nige! Nee "Il Lione" or simply "Red 5." As in the one and only world famous Thespian, the 1992 Formula One World Champion, and '93 CART/PPG IndyCar champion Nigel Mansell.

As that's an Uber' Stout grouping 'O legendary Drivers to be inducted with!

Although I've subsequently learned that Chip Hanauer is actually just the third winningest Unlimited Hydroplane Driver. As his arch nemesis and Miss Budweiser successor, the Dastardly Dave Villwock currently holds the record with a staggering 67 victories. Followed by the late Bill Muncey's 62, with Hanauer P3 with 61 W's.

As I pilfered the two images for this story from a totally unheard of website, which Y'all should really check out, since it's got a ton 'O great photographs!

As I had ZERO Clue over who this "Fearless Freddie" Chap was? And NO Freddie Kruger Jokes here; Hya! Other than from some of the multiple captions on his fantastic Scrap Book page, which I found merely by accident! That he was apparently an ex-Unlimited Hydroplane Driver...

Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum
5917 S 196th Street
Kent, WA 98032
(206) 764-9453

Tuesday thru Saturday: 10AM-4PM
(Open until 8PM on Tuesday & Thursday)
Cost: $10.00 (Seniors & Students Discount: $5.00)

Hydroplanes on Display (2004)

 (Outside: 3)
  • 1960 U-4 Miss Burien
  • 1967 U-12 Miss Budweiser
  • 1977 U-1 Atlas Van Lines - Unrestored

(Inside: 6)
  • 1968 U-1 Miss Budweiser
  • 1958 U-40 Miss Bardahl
  • 1980 U-1 Miss Budweiser
  • 1951 U-1 Slo Mo Shun V
  • 1974 U-8 Oh Boy Oberto
  • 1982 U-00 Atlas Van Lines

Monday, August 6, 2018

HYDROS: Skimming over Long, Forgotten Raceboat Museum Memories...

Past Unlimited Hydroplane racing legends Dean Chenoweth and Bill Muncey pictured in Acapulco, 1981. (Image source: thunderfest.com)
As it's time once again to Hear the Whoosh of those unbelievable Turbine powered Thunderboats! Like Didn't Y'all Hear 'em from the Shores 'O Lake Washington;'Chir-Chirp?

Author's Note
In lieu of currently unpacking a Moving Van somewheres' Northwards, with thou No Fenders Office certainly being Ah-Shambles, Mateys! As watch out for those Seafair Pirates R-R-R'

Not to mention presumably still Off the Grid. I'm rolling out the ; Err.. Uhm, this vintage story that's sat in Dry-dock on thou Isle 'O Nofendersville for over a Decade now. Enjoy...

Prior to leaving for Sasebo, Japan some ten-plus years ago, I told my "Pops" Tomas, Sr. that I knew exactly what I wanted for my birthday. I wanted to go to the Hydroplane museum.

Having known about the museum for years since it's being located in South Seattle, I'd never managed to make it there, but had always wanted to go.

Growing up in Seattle during the early 1970’s, the deafening roar of the piston powered thunderboats were unmistakable. As these Unlimited hydroplanes were truly mesmerizing as they reportedly skimmed the waters of Lake Washington at over 170mph while throwing mammoth roostertails behind them Skywards!

And although Seattle International Raceway (SIR) was in operation, the trek to far-away Kent, WA was seldom made. Sure SIR had 64 Funny Cars & The FoXX Hunt, but for me the hydros were truly "the boys of summer.

And as I've scribbled over thou years here upon No Fenders, as a 'Wee lad, I remember pulling a wooden hydro behind my bicycle which never seemed to work very good on our cobblestone street.

As later on while growing up, I was even allowed the privilege of watching the Seafair race on TV while my brothers had to do yard work.

And when the Goodyear blimp arrived at Sand Point, you knew it was Hydro-Time” Along with the Blue Angels arrival, although for Mwah, the hydros were always the “star” attraction of summer.

Museum Visit
The Hydroplane & Powerboat Museum sits nestled in Kent's valley, located in an industrial park complex east of the S. 188th Street exit off Interstate 5. (I-5) Nearing the museum on a Saturday Wayback in November, 2004, I really didn’t know what to expect or how many hydroplanes would they have?

Pulling into the parking lot, an Unlimited Hydroplane perched on its trailer jutted out from the side of the building. Walking towards the boat, a man admiring the hydro told me how he’d always wanted to drive one of these” since high school.

This first, non-descript sponsor-less boat was the U-4 Miss Burien. While closer examination revealed a 2nd hydroplane directly behind it.

Of course NO Unlimited Hydroplane could truly be called non-descript. As the Miss Burien simply lacked the financial resources of its more celebrated counterparts.

Parked alongside the Miss Burien on its trailer sat The U-12 Miss Budweiser. Both hydros sported the classic round nose front engine open cockpit design of the early 1960’s.

As I enjoyed being able to look at the details of these wooden monsters up close, finding the fore & aft hull shapes most intriguing.

While A small chequered floor motif area (indoors) houses the gift shop. With a single clothes rack of t-shirts along with a few display cases and donation box serving as the humble entryway to the 10,000 square foot approx. museum.

A small flotilla of hydroplanes awaits curious onlookers. As the warehouse building is divided into two sections, i.e.; Museum and Restoration Shop.

Behind the gift shop a display case holds a nice model of The Pride of Pay ‘N Pak, the first successful turbine powered hydroplane.

Against the far wall the Miss Budweiser’s bow juts directly towards us. With the boat’s sponsons proudly displaying the U-1. As this very significant hydroplane was the first Miss Budweiser to win both the Gold Cup & National High Points Championship for Bernie Little after seven years of trying...

Directly opposite the Miss Bud', a wall of assorted photographs are visible behind the famous Miss Bardahl.

As the metallic green “Dragon-boat” sits prominently tilted on its trailer. And the mighty Rolls Royce Merlin engine smoke stack exhaust covers proudly proclaim “Dragon Power!

Alongside the Miss Bardahl is without doubt one of my 2 All-time favourite Miss Budweiser’s! Tilted majestically on its trailer sits the all conquering Bud from the early 1980’s. Being the mighty Rolls Royce Griffon powered Pickle-fork Cabover boat, the 2nd of 3 Hulls produced.

This Ron Jones, Sr. designed boat was one of the two most successful hulls ever campaigned in Unlimited Hydroplane History! As this Juggernaut (trio) of Griffon powered Hydro's won three championships (1980-81, and 1984) 24 Races and a record 20 consecutive Heats!

A small open area with photo display on stand leads to other hydros. Sitting vertically on its stand looms the Slo Mo Shun V. Arguably the most famous hydroplane to ever come out of Seattle. As it’s wonderful to see the boat meticulously restored!

Slo Mo V electrified the shores of Lake Washington's crowds with its famous flying starts underneath the old HWY-520 Floating Bridge. Whilst dubiously, the boat also performed the first barrel roll (1953) prior to Tex Johnson's mesmerizing, and unexpected Barrel-roll of Boeing's first ever jet powered commercial Aeroplane!

As I've subsequently scribbled 'bout the Driver of that Slo Mo Shun V Hydroplane, Lou Fageol and his Indianapolis Motor Speedway connections in;

It’s ground breaking predecessor was the 2-seater Slo Mo Shun IV. This was the first hydroplane from Seattle to upset the apple cart, stunning the racing world on its debut in 1950. Before the streamlined futuristic Slo Mo V’s dynasty cast a stranglehold over unlimited racing by shifting the vaunted Detroit dominance of the sport to Seattle for five years.

While admiring the Slo Mo Shun V and having the museum entirely to ourselves, an older gentleman approached us. He seemed to serve as the museum’s caretaker?

Who shortly engaged us in conversation. Before my Dad & Ron began waxing nostalgic over the mighty Slo Mo hydroplanes. And after Tomas, Sr. recanted how the Slo Mo IV stunned Detroit by capturing the 1950 Gold cup - Ron replied how the 2nd driver had needed to plant his foot atop Ted Jones to win the race.
As Ted Jones was scared “shitless” by that boat, according to Ron!

They babbled on about how you needed to bother the staff at the MO-HI (Museum of History & Industry) for a possible chance to glimpse the Slo Mo IV. (Although Larry has just informed me that the MO-HI’s property has been sold when I originally wrote this Wayback in '04)

Ron followed us as we stopped to view the photo display where the two continued to name names of past boats & drivers. As it was amazing hearing my Pops' divulge more information about Hydroplanes than I'd ever heard him say before. Most interesting being his waxing on 'bout having worked at the Machine Shop that produced the Quil Shafts for the Slo Mo' Hulls.

 Standing near The Bud, I asked Ron if that was the Griffon powered boat driven by Jim Kropfeld? Ron replied yes but it’s missing its engine. Grinning Ron said it had a little problem at this year's hydroplane classic's race on Lake Washington. It threw its prop!

Actually the notorious problem of running the Griffon had reared its ugly head. Upon leaving the pits the quill shaft had sheared. This spun the over-revving “lump' to 6,000 RPM’s before Detonating a piston and snapping the Prop Shaft!

Ron said that the divers found the prop in fewer than 20 minutes. While Ron mentioned that he thought there was enough left of the destroyed Griffon to turn it into a museum piece…

Examining the empty engine bay, Ron commented how the Griffon boats were Widow-makers', when The 1st hull was destroyed trying to set the mile record in 1979. And this boat (hull #2) had tragically claimed the life of the legendary Dean Chenoweth at Tri-Cities in 1982.

I asked Ron if the story about Bernie Little holding a monopoly on available Griffon powerplants was true. Ron claimed that Bill Muncey had actually purchased Griffons to campaign. (prior to his death at Acapulco in 1981)

The late Dan Wheldon stands alongside his Bryan Herta Autosports IndyCar at the 2011 Indy 500, which he'd win on the final lap! (the Tomaso Collection)
Muncey v Wheldon...
Fast forwarding seven years, ironically but sadly, I'd just finished putting to bed my story commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Bill Muncey's Death in Acapulco at the helm of his dreaded "Blue Blaster!" Which I posted just two days after the senseless Death of 'Ol Dannyboy SPIKE' Wheldon at the 2011 Las Vegas IndyCar World Finals. Having already procured my Aeroplane ticket to The Valley of The Sun for some much needed R 'N R.

While Y'all can check out this great Speed Freaks interview with the late Dan Wheldon from 2011, just weeks after winning his second Indy 500 when he was doing guest commentary work for Versus...

To continue reading, see; HYDROS: Long Forgotten Raceboat Museum Visit Thunders On

(Dan Wheldon photo c/o No Fenders ‘Offical Photographer CARPETS')