As far back as 1955 “Sleeper M-2” has been racing in events up and down the east coast, impressing spectators and fellow racers. The original Chris-Craft built in 1931, was converted to F Service Runabout in 1955 and has raced in a number of configurations throughout her illustrious life.
And the best part – you can still see her perform on the water this weekend in the Vintage Speedsters & Runabouts Class at the Classic Race Boat Association’s Fall Thunder Regatta on Lake Dora, in Tavares, Florida. The history of this boat and her eventual restoration in 2003 makes up our story today, thanks to the informative Vintage Hydroplanes & CRA websites. Great information on a legendary race boat. – Texx
Owner: Harold Bauer of Kenmore, NY
Driver: Bill Burgess of N. Tonawanda, NY
Riding Mechanic: Fran Semenick of Buffalo, NY
HISTORY – Years Raced 1955-1966
This boat was raced originally in local regattas. In 1956 the boat was registered with the American Power Boat Association as M-2, a “F Service Runabout” class. The Service Runabout class rules were based on cubic inches, length, weight, and had to carry a crew of two people (driver & passenger).
In 1956, the hull was powered by a Buick engine, and was driven from the rear of the boat. We were competing in the Nationals in Buffalo that year and almost won. However, the Buick motor fell apart. Bill Burgess (driver) and Harold Bauer, (who was the owner at that time) decided to change the power to Ford 390 FE and make hull adjustments.
In 1959 we added to the chine on both sides from the trip back to increase the hull width at the transom. Knee braces were added to all the stringers and original braces. A cavitation plate was built for more running surface and stability along with fins for tracking. Placement of the engine was moved to the rear and attached by a Borg Warner velvet drive 71C, coupled to a Casalle V-Drive via a jack shaft. Prop shaft angles and steering were changed. The seating arrangement was changed to two forward cockpits driving from the cockpit forward of the engine. Bucket seats were added. The entire hull was fiberglassed. We made prop changes and settled on a two blade, Cary propeller.
In 1961 it won the Buffalo Launch Club around Grand Island Marathon. Length & time – 27 miles in 22 minutes & 37 seconds, avg 73 mph. A local record, that still exists today. For years, we canvassed the boat, traveled thousands of miles from Valleyfield, Quebec to Miami, FL, including , Buffalo, NY, Washington, DC, Elizabeth City, NC, Millville, NJ, Rehovoth Beach, Norfolf, VA, Chestertown, MD, etc. It was definitely a crowd pleaser.
This boat today is owned by Bill Burgess, from Orlando Florida. The boat was bought and restored by Tom Frauenheim (Thomas Frauenheim, Inc. boat restoration & broker Buffalo, NY) who purchased it from the estate of Harold Bauer. The boat had been sitting for 36 years and needed extensive restoration.
As boat racing goes, a part of history many involved will never forget, especially people in Buffalo, New York. A pioneer area in boat racing.
If you are in the Tavares, Florida area this weekend, forget about mowing the lawn – head over and check out this huge classic race boat event, you won’t be disappointed.