It all started when we agreed to help our friends Carla and Chris from Hagerty Marine Insurance with a photo shoot during the Lake Dora boat show on Friday morning.
The photo shoot was scheduled for 7:00 AM in the calm waters of a secluded safe area on Lake Dora, with the objective of capturing some unique images of “Miss America IX” – Charles Mistele’s amazing historic 1930 Gar Wood race boat.
We were providing the shoot boat, our all-original 1960 Chris-Craft 24′ Sportsman named “Suzy” is perfect for the job, she is stable and can take the heat. And if I may say so. eye candy compared to most photo boats.
The job for this photo shoot was to capture images of “Miss America IX” at speed on Lake Dora, which meant we had to drive parallel with the “Miss America IX” maintaining a consistent speed in the shoot boat, allowing Charles to accelerate past us. Because “Miss America IX” is a single-step hydroplane with a bow rudder, she needs to be up on plane in order for Charles to properly (and safely) steer the 30′ boat.
On board “Suzy” was the professional photographer Roy Ritchie , Chris from Hagerty and Alex Watson with his camera in hand. “Suzy” was running sweet, the big 275HP 430 Lincoln never sounded better in the crisp morning air, and although we had to hold a steady speed for the photographer, she wanted to go faster, and I found myself having to pull the throttle back to keep our speed down.
The twin 550HP – 454 Chevrolet’s in “Miss America IX” sounded fabulous as she accelerated past us, and every time she went by, I swear “Suzy” wanted to go after her.
At that point I whispered to Alex – “Suzy wants to go, I think we should Wick-it-Up with Charles on the next run and see what she can do against Miss America?”… I can take her..
Alex responded “Are you frickin nuts man… You wouldn’t stand a chance against that 1,110HP Hydroplane!!”
We stopped in the middle of the lake for a few minutes, so we could discuss the plan for the next photo session, and just before we were ready to do another run, I gave Charles “The Nod”… and then glanced down the lake. You know – The same “Nod” we made as kids when we pulled up at a stop light late at night with our muscle cars… you give the other guy “The Nod” signaling that you wanted to “Wick-it-Up” when the light turns green…
The cool thing about Charles is that he gets it big time. This is not just a museum piece. It’s a living part of our history and when it comes to life. That brings the real thrill of what folks must have felt when Miss America IX raced.
It was time for a smack down.
When we were ready for the next run, I fired up “Suzy” first and slowly circled further signaling my intentions as Charles calmly brought the twin big-blocks to life.
At that moment – I looked at Charles, and he looked at me, I gave him “The Nod” and we put the hammer down… I even opened my windshield to reduce the wind resistance. The big Van Ness 430 responded nicely to the throttle and “Suzy” leaped forward for a moment… Alex was amazed that we were keeping pace with Charles. Holy crap, we are actually doing well…
Then, we heard this loud exhaust noise coming from “Miss America IX” – Like an angry roar of an animal… Carla was riding with Charles and she looked over at us, waved good-bye and the big Gar Wood hydroplane took off like it was shot from a cannon! I honestly thought we had lost the engine or put the breaks on. Mother of god that boat past us so fast.. And he was playing around..
Well. At least I can carry 9 people.. Oh and turn.. Ugh who am I kidding.. Miss America IX is amazing! Stay tuned for more on the water fun from Lake Dora!