The Day Guy Lombardo Raced at Clear Lake

The Day Guy Lombardo Raced at Clear Lake


Antique Boating, Spring 1977

During the first week of August I942, the little resort town of Clear Lake, Iowa gained national attention in the boating world because of the appearance of a famous celebrity at their annual Governor’s Days Boat Races. The local Clear Lake newspaper was emblazoned with bold headlines on Thursday, August 6th, telling of plans for over 40 boats from eight states to converge on Clear Lake for a weekend of power boat racing at its finest! The star of these upcoming races was to be Guy Lombardo, who planned to race his newest hydroplane, Tommy Ann. Guy held a world’s record in the 225 cu. inch class in division one.


A Vintage Publicity Photo

The races were to be staged on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The course was oval in shape and three trips around the five mile course constituted a race. All types of outboard as well as inboard hydroplane and sailboat races were planned for the long weekend. Other gala events planned included a parade, a speech by the Governor of Iowa, a Venetian night parade of local boats and a traveling carnival.

At an average speed of 61 rnph, Guy Lombardo in his Tempo V, won the feature race and received the first place prize money of $90.00. Total prize money for the three days of racing amounted to $550 – a sum not impressive by today’s standards but “big” money in 1942. Guy also won the “free-for-all” which included all types of boats registered for the Governor’s Boat Races. His wife was winning the “powder-puff” race when she missed a buoy and headed south rather than north. This error enabled a local Clear Lake woman to win with a speed of slightly over 50 mph.

Tempo IV was Guy Lombardo’s post – WWII Racing 3 point Hydroplane

Crowds estimated at over 10,000 filled the downtown and city dock area. Sunday, especially, was crowded as for many Iowans it was their first exposure to inboard boat races. The final race on Sunday consisted of locals turned “professional for the day” as they challenged each other in their Chris Crafts, Gar Woods, etc. Speeds were considerably slower than the big hydros but enthusiasm was high. Plans for an expanded program in 1948 were abandoned because of World War II, and although some outboard races were held after 1948, inboard racing never returned to Clear Lake.

Guy Lombardo in the Tempo IV on Clear Lake

Mrs. Frank “Spec” Haddy, who provided most of the history and photos of this story, and her sister still recall the thrill of Guy Lombardo’s arrival at their father’s Touristville Boat Co. in his new white Lincoln, towing Tempo V.