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Outboard Hydroplane Racing

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Outboard Hydroplane Racing

From the years of 1989 through 1993 I spent the summer weekends traveling around the northwest with my father racing an outboard hydroplane. I ran in the A Stock Hydro and, for a couple years, the A Stock Runnabout classes. My father raced in C Stock Hydro, D Stock Hydro, and a bit of time in C Stock Runnabout.

It all started in the summer of 1988, when living in north-east Oregon, I heard, on the radio, of a "miniature hydroplane race" on the Columbia river in Richland Washington. My father and I flew over to watch that weekend and were hooked. That fall we bought motors and short-kits and begain to build ourselves each a hydroplane. The boat was the first large project I had taken on, and its completion was a relief. Although not as pretty as the boats built by others who had more experience, it proved to be quite competitive, and earned me many top-3 placings, including a Fred Hallet Memorial Youth Award for the most season points by anyone my age in the nation.

In the spring we participated in our first races at Silver Lake in Everett, WA, soon followed by Brewster, WA where this shot was taken of my Father's and my boats.

In the pits at my second race ever ('89). I actually placed 3rd out of a field of 8 due to a bunch of gun-jumpers. My father's boat is in the foreground (93R) and mine is behind it (89R).

Me, in my hydro.

First place is fun!

After a couple of years I purchased another boat, a runabout: same engine, different style boat. I am the one in the middle near the yellow bouy. I would move the engine from one boat to another between heats in order to get twice as many runs in on a weekend.

Can I? Can I?

Yea ha!!

On the left is my friend Shane, right is my dad, and I am the wannabe tomato in the center. The boat is the first hydro that my fater built. The engine is a 500cc 2-stroke 2 cylinder Yamato. This was one of the few races where I ran in the class that my dad usually raced. The boat was trimmed way too light for my puny self, and I spent most of the race just trying to keep the nose down.

I'm the sentient ballast in back wishing that Howard had installed handles to hang onto. This boat ran a 1100cc 3-cylinder 2-stroke that started life as a Mercury 60. By the time it was setup for the races it ran on methanol with nitro-methane and castor-oil, had straight-to-megaphone exhaust ports, and (if I recall correctly) an open carb per cylinder. The class this ran in called for two people, the driver, and the "passenger". I was chosen as a passenger because I was of legal age for the class, and relatively light.

P.S. This boat MOVES (and rather quickly at that). A minute or so after these photos the timing belt snapped, and we got to watch the rest of the race bobbing around in the in-field.