On Racing

From Dr. Motorhead:

It does my heart good to read and be apart of the fun, camaraderie and competition surrounding the now-seemingly- annual competition for the fastest boat and drag race during our Rendezvous in August. Although my schedule did not allow me to be there in person, I did enjoy the stories and video tape of the event. I must admit I got first-hand knowledge from a very reliable source, but I do have some concerns with what may be billed as the antique and classic boat challenge race of the year. I am not sure that the boats that have raced to date can even qualify for what I feel are the requirements for an antique and classic boat race.

Let us look at the challengers:

Jim Aamodt’s mid-90’s Hacker Craft powered by a 454 cubic inch large block Chevy, purporting to have 400 hp. I believe this boat has a West System bottom. Nice — makes it about as smooth and as frictionless as fiberglass. Beautiful boat, lots of fun. I know Aamodts really love and enjoy it, but hardly antique or classic.

Dr. Bob and his 1948 Chris Craft 22’ Sportsman powered by a Chevy 350 cubic inch small block. Who knows how much horsepower? The engine was built by the late John Clark who knew all about race engines and what it takes to get them going. John also had the boat bottom completely rebuilt. Not just West System, but the frames were all rebuilt to give the bottom a different shape from its original. This boat goes really fast, but notice that at cruising speed, Bob is always sitting on a big bag of life jackets, as the bow rides very high. I assume that he needs to do this to see over the bow — not a normal procedure for an original-shaped hull. One might argue if this boat is an original classic with its reconfigured hull. But certainly the engine and its technology were not available in 1948. Ever notice the size of the stainless steel exhaust pipe penetrating the transom? I guess you got to let that big power plant breath.

Bil Hawks and his Dingle. Neat boat, one of a kind, great history for Lake Minnetonka and the Dingle Boat Works in St. Paul. This boat originally had a big V8 Curtis-Wright Typhoon, if I recall correctly. Today it has a Rolls Royce V12 under the hatches. Good looking engine, but hardly original. Rolls made those engines for tanks during World War II. What about the bottom? Six-ply composite, kevlar, carbon fiber, and who knows what else. As stiff and as slick as a new Wellcraft. I know Bil loves his boat and it has brought him many awards. I do too. I am really happy to see this boat on the Lake.

I hear Todd Warner brought some kind of SK boat with a blown mega-horse power Olds or Buick engine. I also heard and saw in the video that he was towed in. That’s OK, I don’t need to say anymore about this boat.

You know, I was down at the boat show last week. Maybe I should buy one of these new Fountains and paint it brown, I am sure I could win. But I’m not so sure that is the point. I am wondering if our hobby is beginning to take the shape of the street rods I see from time to time. They only resemble an old car …I hope not.

What does all this mean? Our organization is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of historic, antique, and classic water craft. Should we not do just that? Must we promote somebody’s idea of doing whatever it takes to make an old boat go fast? Should we not encourage those to work with what is original? Maybe it is all just good fun, but I would hate to have us lose the direction of which this organization is founded upon.

I hope that perhaps at this years Rendezvous we could see a race with a couple of antique or classic boats — ones with flat heads. You remember, the engines that don’t have valve covers. I bet you there are a couple of boats out there with original motors and bottoms that might give the V8’s a run for their money. Maybe even classes for displacement hulls, small horsepower row boats and/or canoes.

What a wonderful organization we have. One that promotes an atmosphere of friendship and goodwill. The Antique and Classic Boat Society: the name itself implies many different things to many different people. How we participate and how we enjoy the organization is up to the individual. Good friendly competition, I love it. However, let us not forget the mission of this organization as we joke and continue the challenges and playful banter. I wish that everyone who reads this editorial understands one very important message. Everybody participates in our sport in different ways. We should all do this. I have no issues with how and what people do to their boats. My only issue is to remind us all that we must maintain the basis of our organization: the preservation of the antique and classic boats.

Very truly and with great respect to the entire ACBS membership,
Dr. Motorhead

P.S. Want to learn more about getting the little extra out of your flat head? Stay tuned for more information –and it’s free.