Classic Race Boat Association Tavares Fall Thunder – Celebrating The Art Of Classic Boat Racing

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Slo-mo-shun IV

A vintage shot of Boat Transit Co. preparing to haul “Slo-mo-shun IV” to the next big race – Photo courtesy Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum, Circa 1950.

One of the best things about Woody Boater is we get to cover every aspect of the classic boating hobby which, as you know, has many different avenues and types of events throughout the year – all celebrating the culture of classic boats.

Our friend and fellow Woody Boater Bill John from the Vintage Race Boat Shop / Classic Raceboat Association would like to remind our viewers that the Annual Tavares Fall Thunder Regatta returns to Lake Dora at Wooten Park in Tavares, Florida for 3 days from November 14-16. So it’s not too late to load up the old race boat and set your GPS for Lake Dora – or just make the trip down to experience the boats from the shore at Wooten Park. It’s an amazing site to see, and the folks from the CRA are a wonderful group of people.

To celebrate the many years of boat racing in North America, today we have also put together a collection of vintage boat racing program covers from 1914 to 1969 – courtesy of the Hydroplane Program Covers Site. Throughout the years, the Art of Boat Racing has always been popular, and the art has evolved with imagination & color as technology improved – all designed back in the day before Photoshop. Check it out below and let us know which program cover is your personal favorite. – Texx


“My Precious 8” Jersey Skiff – Photo courtesy Bill John, Vintage Race Boat

From the CRA – The past will come alive as vintage and classic race boats of bygone eras return to Wooton Park in Tavares, Florida for our next annual Tavares Fall Thunder Regatta. Tavares is now a major stop on the CRA Florida Vintage Race Boat Circuit, and this fall’s regatta expands to 3 full days, with over 60 beautifully restored vintage and classic race boats running demonstration laps on a 1 mile oval course on beautiful Lake Dora. In addition to seeing and hearing these unique and beautiful boats run, spectators are invited to view them close-up in the pit area at Wooton Park on both Saturday and Sunday.

And joining the local fleet of vintage race boats during the winter months when the northern vintage events are in hibernation, the snow birds are increasingly hauling their beautifully restored vintage and classic race boats down to Florida to enjoy the sunny and warm Florida weather and to participate on our Florida Vintage Race Boat Circuit.

With the flat water on the small inland Florida lakes, these regattas are attracting large boat counts with well over 75 vintage and classic race boats at the last several events. The crowds are huge and the Pit passes allow entry into the actual race boat area during the noon lunch break for photos and a chance to talk with the drives and crew.

The regatta participants have fun running their beautifully restored vintage race boats at speed on a race course in the warm Florida sun, and the public gets a chance to see, hear and experience the rich history of powerboat racing. The sights and sounds are just magnificent, come join us for our next event!!! – Bill John / CRA

There was a time in history when thousands of spectators would gather at the different venues around the country to experience the sights, sounds and raw speed of the race boats. It’s amazing how the racers criss-crossed the country to attend the different events, competing for the various boat racing championships over the years. You can still experience the thrill of the race boats at one of the vintage events that the Classic Race Boat Association organizes.

4 - Cincinnati

Cincinnati Hydroplane Races program – Newport, Kentucky

18 - Lake George, NY 1914

Gold Cup Challenge Races – Lake George, New York 1914

12 - Greenwich27

APBA Greenwich, Connecticut Gold Cup Regatta 1927

16 - Lakeelsinore30

National Midwinter Outboard Regatta – Lake Elsinore, California 1930

27 - Redbank30

New Jersey Gold Cup Association Regatta 1930

34 - Washington, DC 1934

Presidents Cup Regatta, Washington DC 1934 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

38 - Washington, DC 1947

Presidents Cup Regatta – Washington, DC 1947

7 - Detroit River 1948

Detroit International Regatta – Detroit Yacht Club 1948 (Note Belle Isle and the famous Belle Isle Bridge).

Miss Canada IV heads for the start of the 1950 Harmsworth Trophy race. Belle Isle Bridge, Detroit

“Miss Canada IV” passing under the Belle Isle Bridge as she heads for the start of the 1950 Harmsworth Trophy race.

35 - Washington, DC 1949

The Presidents Cup Regatta – Washington, DC 1949. President Harry S. Truman

37 - Seattle 1951

Seafair Regatta – Seattle, Washington 1951

19 - Laketahoe55

Mile High Gold Cup Regatta – Lake Tahoe 1955

22 - Las Vegas 1956

Sahara Cup Race – Las Vegas / Lake Mead, Nevada 1956

36- Washington, DC 1956

Presidents Cup Regatta – Washington, DC 1956. President Dwight D. Eisenhower

8 - Detroit 1957

Detroit Memorial Regatta / Miss Universe Contest 1957

15 - Lake Chelan 1958

2nd Annual Apple Cup Race – Lake Chelan, Washington 1958

5 - CDA 1958

Diamond Cup Race – Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 1958

2 - Buffalo 1958

Buffalo Launch Club International Regatta – Grand Island, New York 1958

30 - Seattle 1958

Gold Cup and National Limited Hydroplane Championships – Seattle, Washington 1958

3 - Buffalo 1959

Buffalo Launch Club International Regatta – Grand Island, New York 1959

9 - Detroit 1960

14th Annual Detroit Memorial Regatta 1960

28 - Reno60

Reno Regatta – Pyramid Lake, Nevada 1960

26 - Picton61

International Harmsworth Trophy Race – Picton, Ontario, Canada 1961

6 - CDA 1962

Diamond Cup Race – Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 1962

13 - Guntersville 1962

National Inboard Championships – Guntersville, Alabama 1962

23 - Madison 1962

Governor’s Cup Race – Madison, Indiana 1962

31 - Seattle62

Seattle’s Seafair – World Fair Gold Cup. Seattle, Washington 1962

10 - Detroit63

Spririt Of Detroit Association – Gold Cup Regatta 1963

1963 Tahoe Cover

Harrah’s Tahoe Championship Regatta, Lake Tahoe 1963

20 - Lake Tahoe 1964

1964 Harrah’s Tahoe Regatta for Unlimited Hydroplanes

24 - Madisonindiana64

17th Annual Madison Regatta – Madison, Indiana 1964

11 - Detroit 1964

Detroit Gold Cup Regatta 1964

32 - Seattle 1965

1965 Gold Cup Regatta – Seattle, Washington 1965

21 - Laketahoe65

1965 Lake Tahoe World Championship Regatta 1965

14 - Kelowna66

1966 Unlimited Hydroplane Races – Kelowna, BC, Canada

33 - Tampa 1967

Suncoast Cup for Unlimited Hydroplanes – Tampa, Florida 1967

25 - Madisonwisconsin68

Wisconsin Cup for Unlimited Hydroplanes – Lake Monona, Madison, Wisconsin 1968

29 - San Diego 1969

APBA San Diego Gold Cup 1969

The artwork and creative designs of the program covers over the years is amazing.

In my rush to get this story published for todays 7:00 AM deadline, I forgot to include a credit for the website that provided the wonderful program covers for the story today – known as the Hydroplane Program Covers Site.

According to Malcolm Mitchell and James Pernikoff, founders of the Hydroplane Program Covers Site, “the aim of their project (which began in 2000) has been to gather together scans of official Hydroplane event programme covers and related memorabilia” Thanks to Mitchell and Pernicoff ‘s perseverance “today there are 526 covers listed from 65 hydroplane courses, and counting”…

To donate a poster go to their website

They are preserving history in a very special way, and we sincerely appreciate their efforts.


37 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Texx so many to choose from.

    If I had to pick one I think it would have to be the 1957 Memorial Regatta. You can almost feel the action. I hope that photographer got paid well, since it seems as thought that picture is used on many covers (’56 Presidents Cup, ’57 Memorial, ’63 Gold Cup, and ’65 Gold Cup)

  2. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Great collection of wonderful posters, but I have to go with the Detroit Gold Cup events. I can still remember sneeking into the pits as a young kid during the time trials and practice through a hole in the fence down at the Roostertail. I would jump in freight and joy as they fired up those wonderful piston powered boats. Fond memories!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Greg – Thanks for chiming in today. I was hoping that a few of these program shots from Detroit would bring back some memories for you.

      Nothing quite like the sound of a V-12 powered unlimited hydroplane skimming across the water. Those things were Monsters!

  3. Sean
    Sean says:

    The BIG boats are making a resurgence in popularity …. One of our club members has just purchased Miss TIMEX and will be starting her restoration shortly!

  4. Texx
    Texx says:

    My personal favorite program cover is the one from the 1966 Kelowna Unlimited Hydroplane race – because I was there in person for that race. (Don’t do the math on the age)

    I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I remember the experience of being at that exciting Hydroplane Race in 1966… Funny how that works.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      I would agree on the ’66 Kelowna poster as a favorite just because of the graphics but they could have relocated that 50 cent souvenir program square some place where it wouldn’t spoil that scene.
      I think I watched that “Madison” dvd about 6 times in a row. Not only is it great family movie well acted (maybe a little over the top but that’s Hollywood for you) but obviously amazing subject matter and period equipment and the sound track is killer, not only the unlimiteds but one of the best late 60’s songs ever (which is a great boat song) “I’ve got a line on you babe” by Spirit. Its on my ipod playlist for “sprint” intervals – probably only Alex Watson knows what I’m talking about, lol.

  5. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    I remember as a kid when the big boats used to come to Miami in the winter to race at Bakers Haulover…Seems like Miss Atlas Van Lines was a top winner in those days…
    And then we had hometown boy Dean Chenowith who drove Miss Buswieser for Bernie Little until the early ’80s when he flipped it at Seattle and almost killed himself after which many local Tallahasseeans tried to convince him a near 50 year old ought to give it up but Bernie asked him to drive one more year and the next year Dean flipped it again in a horrible accident that ended his life. The good news was that like the crash that killed Dale Ernhardt, a lot of safety measures were put in place to protect the drivers when the boats became airborne and flipped.
    How about adding a u-tube of Madison, the flick that a lot of our friends, Ike Kieglas, John Freeman, etc. .were in that should have made it into movie theaters but didn’t ?

    • Randy
      Randy says:

      You are spot on here Wilson — the movie “Madison” just was not distributed widely enough in my estimation. It is a great family flick, a bit ‘Hollywoody’, but fun to pull out the ‘ol DVD every so often and watch again. The DVD is available through the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum Giftshop or on-line at eBay. Well worth the addition to your library!

  6. Texx
    Texx says:

    When I was researching this story, I also found an interesting shot of a Chris-Craft race boat that I would like to identify. Anybody recognize it?

  7. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Thanks Texx, Great read today. Enjoyed seeing all of these program covers and posters from the past. As for a favorite, it’s too tough to call.

    I wore an “I Like Ike” button to school back in the early 50’s, shook hands with President Truman in the late 40’s and remember mom crying when Roosevelt passed away. So I guess those President’s Cup series brought back some good memories for me.

    I know; Corney as all get-out, but…

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Al – The series on PBS these days by Ken Burns on the Roosevelt family is outstanding. Worth watching if you get a chance.

  8. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    Great Posters, I remember going to the Unlimited Hydroplane Regatta maybe in the early 80’s in Evansville Ind. It was a fun time with Miss Budweiser, Atlas Van Lines and more, Circus Circus Casino sponsored 1 boat and had a helicopter flying overhead while the boats were racing, There was also a few of the boats still with the Allison ? 12 cyl. motors although most had switched over to Turbine power by then. There was a lot of beer consumed while there.

  9. Steve Balcer
    Steve Balcer says:

    The subject came up a few blogs back about Bay City Mi. and it’s boat building history. Looking at some of these posters and How many of these boats came from Bay City is another story in it’s self. Other than Seattle Wa. I would bet that at lease 90% of all hydroplanes were built between the two cities. Racing runabouts I would give to Algonac. How cool these things are to watch run.

  10. Ron Stevenson
    Ron Stevenson says:

    Texx, wonderful job, what a great layout!
    My favorites would be the 1949 showing Miss Tempo VI, Guy Lombardo’s boat that Joe Fraunheim restored, and let a bunch of us guys co-DRIVE IT!
    And of course all the Seattle programs, as kids we would ride our bikes to Seward Park and in the 50’s we could be in the pits during time trials.
    If any of you get to Seattle, make sure to visit the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum, and/or watch them run in Lake Chelan at our boat show every October!

  11. Chad
    Chad says:

    Thanks Texx! Love the old typography.

    I’ve always had a fascination with things that go fast. As I kid, my idols were Yeager and Breedlove and Chenowith.

    These days I’m just happy getting the most out of my 95hp K engine.

  12. Walt
    Walt says:

    I loved going with my dad to watch the President’s Cup Regatta on the Potomac. The sounds of those wonderful Allison and Rolls Royce Merlin powered Unlimiteds, the Jersey Speed skiffs, all of the various classes of hydroplanes and the ski boats. Great times. It’s too bad the Potomac became too small for the races. Of course, the new turbine powered unlimited hydroplanes don’t have the same appeal (at least not to me) as the classic WWII airplane engine versions.

  13. Alex
    Alex says:

    Nice assortment of programs / flyers Texx. In many ways I find them more exciting than the photos today’s material would probably feature. Am I just being sentimental or have we lost something with “progress?”

  14. Randy
    Randy says:

    Great bit of nostalgia for us ‘old’ folks Texx!!!! I am checking in a bit late today since this is one of my scheduled days for working at the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum. After finishing up and running the ’77 Atlas Van Lines (Bill Muncey’s Blue Blaster) last summer we have now started on the 1973 Pay’n’Pak (U-25, the winged wonder).

    Boy, any of those posters bring back a LOT of memories but being able to fulfill my childhood dream of actually working on the old boats and getting them running is just incredible. I feel very fortunate to be living in a place where this kind of fun is just up the road a piece!!!!!

  15. Texx
    Texx says:

    I totally agree Alex, that’s what motivated me to do the story today. The artwork and imagination on many of the vintage programs from the Hydroplane Program Covers site reflects the raw power and speed from back in the day.

  16. reddog
    reddog says:

    Great posters on this website today. I’m kinda partial to the Detroit race posters. I guess cause I live near detroit,. Texx I think I seen you on your hometown poster. 3rd row from the top. 17th person to the left. Just kidding. I also was gonna mention the Madison boat movie. (Good photography, good sound, lots of older boat racing film clips) there’s nothing like the sound of a Allison or rolls Royce at full song (except maybe a Harley or liberty motor) great topic today. No more plastic boats for awhile please..

  17. Jamie Smith
    Jamie Smith says:

    Great story Texx. Work continues on Miss Canada IV. Will get you an update soon. Lots of good stuff going on. With some luck we’ll have a ” real Raceboat” running next summer.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks Jamie – I have been carefully following your progress / testing on your Facebook page and look forward to any future updates when you and the crew get the bugs worked out. Looks like you are getting close. – Texx

  18. Texx
    Texx says:

    Imagine for a minute what it was like back in the day when the race teams would jump in their trucks (like the Boat Transit Dodge rig in the cover photo) and drive from Michigan to Seattle in the mid-summer heat – hauling a huge Unlimited Hydroplane, spare aircraft engines, parts, etc.

    That was dedication.

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