Miss Madison Is Virtually Here!

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Virtually the real deal.

A huge thanks to long time fellow Woody Boater Randy Mueller for dragging Miss Madison out of the barn in Washignton State to our show. This is just the kind of rare boats that our show has. Take that Lake tahoe.. And best of all. We can all cough, and spew and all be safe. Take that… mmm Me? Okay, here is MISS MADISON!

She is in the Museum

You might want a little background on what led me down this ‘insane’ path.


Back in the early ’50’s, living in the Seattle area (Ballard, home base of the unlimited hydroplane Miss Bardahl) hydroplane racing was the number 1 sport. Well, to be truthful it was the only sport in town. No professional football, basketball, soccer, or much of anything else. Oh, we did have a minor league baseball team — but hydroplane racing (outboards & limited inboards) ruled the roost around here.

Rolling it out to the show

mmmmm, Dang!

Someone run to Home depot

But when the now famous Slo Mo IV traveled back to Detroit in 1950 and won the prestigious Gold Cup Race that sealed our fate. By winning that race she earned the right to bring the Cup back to Seattle and the right to run that race in 1951. The Pacific Northwest went crazy. For us, this race was the Super Bowl/World Series/etc. all wrapped up into one!


nice bones

She is on her way to the show now

Another improved Slo Mo was built to compete for that race — it was called Slo Mo V, and it was my all time favorite Hydroplane. In the mid-’50’s it was damaged in a crash, repaired and renamed Miss Seattle. It remained my favorite hydro and I always had a soft spot in my heart for her.

And Bam, we have a show!

By the early ’70’s I was out of college and had turned to sailing. I vividly remember in the Spring of 1974, after moving up to a new sailboat, seeing an ad in the classified section of the Seattle Times newspaper listing the unlimited hydroplane Miss Seattle for sale — $5000. Boy, I had to think long and hard about that opportunity. But reality set in — these old plywood craft required inside storage to survive, and this was the defining issue for me. That, and nobody really was collecting or running these pieces of history at that time. I had to pass. Fortunately, she was saved and reappeared many years later restored and running — currently on display at the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum.

Thanks to Randy and the Museum they brought out Miss Madison for us here. in your chair.

I was aware of the history behind the unlimited Miss Madison, and of that famous Gold Cup Race in Madison, Indiana in 1971 — which she won in front of her hometown crowd. In the early 2000’s I accidentally ran across her locally while helping to prepare one of the turbine hydros for the beginning of race season. She was outside, but had several older tarps covering her. This is a tenuous situation at best, and I visited her numerous times when I was up that way volunteering at the Hydro Museum — she was only about 5-miles from there. After monitoring her for a few years, and not hearing any positive response to questions about her showing up at the museum for a restoration, I decided to propose a sale to ensure her survival for a future restoration. Like the Slo Mo V/Miss Seattle there was just too much history here to jeopardize by leaving outside in the elements.

Concrete floor can get slippery with all of our infected drool!

I immediately moved her to covered storage and shop vac’d all the old leaves and debris out. Being open and under cover she dried out nicely.

… and now you know the rest of the story.



Here is a great video Dane Anderson found. COOL!

30 replies
  1. Gene
    Gene says:

    A real trip down memory lane. For one whose previous exposure to power boats was watching my high school contemporaries race outboard skipjacks in the Thousand Islands in the 50s, snagging a spot on the log boom at the starting line of the Unlimited Hydro races on Lake Washington in the early 60s was mind blowing. Go Miss Thriftway!

  2. First53Resorter
    First53Resorter says:

    Randy, thank you for taking on this challenge. I’m envious! Saw her win the Gold Cup in 1971, as Madison is my hometown. It electrified the crowd and forever placed “Gentleman Jim” McCormick as our hero. Would travel any distance to see and hear her on the water again.

  3. Florida Kid Too
    Florida Kid Too says:

    Very nice story about Miss Madison. HBO has the movie about her. This brings back memories of growing up in St Petersburg in the 60’s and going to Lake Magorie watching the 7 liter boats run. My step dad was friends with Ray Gastner who drove Sunshine Baby. Always will remember the sound and roster tail down the backstretch. Thanks for sharing.

    • Greg Lewandowski
      Greg Lewandowski says:

      Your comment brings back fond memories of the “thunderboats” running on the Detroit River during the Gold Cup races. I still get goosebumps,

  4. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    The unlimited still race at Madison each summer & the vintage boats sometimes run during the event. We went a few years back & enjoyed seeing them. Would love to see you bring the restored boat back “home” for the festivities sometime!

  5. Frank@Falmouth
    Frank@Falmouth says:

    I went to University of Washington back in early 80’s and spent lots of time on Lake Washington the highlight of was the hydro races. We’d head out in my low profile fg over wood ski boat and tie up to the log boom out on the lake. Can’t remember many of the specifics-it was a different time and we weren’t alway that smart but would have been “Troy approved”. Good times. Thanks for preserving history

  6. Wison
    Wison says:

    Brings back memories of going to Balers Hullover ot of Mimi to w big hydros when they came in the winter.

  7. Florida Kid Too
    Florida Kid Too says:

    Hey Randy why don’t you start a go fund me site to help restore Miss Madison? Many small contributions add up and I’d love to see her run down here at Mt Dora next spring! I bet Jamie Smith could help. Get the wrenches twisting!

    • Randy
      Randy says:

      I’m committed (probably should have been a long time ago) to fund this restoration. Any funds that can be raised during this project I would like to see go to the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum (our local ‘Adult Day Care Center’). This is an incredible facility that deserves our support, along with the appreciation for the massive amount of work performed by the volunteers who keep the place going and the boats running.

      Something easy, like joining the Museum by becoming a member, can make a big impact towards keeping the hydros running — please consider a membership!

      This restoration will probably take somewhere between 3-4 years, and she definitely needs to run again in Madison!!!!

  8. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    Being from the PNW – “Thunderboat”s are in my blood – the “Whispersleds” don’t quite have the same effect on my blood pressure… I’m so pleased that Randy as saved that one and will be looking forward to seeing her on the water again after the crew at HARM do their magic! The photo is of my original Red & White, “Tango”, towing “Slo-Mo V” back to Jensen Motor Boat Company after Lou Fageol’s famous 360 degree flip in the boat in 1955.

      • Don Palmer
        Don Palmer says:

        OK and here is a picture of Dick’s current Red and White that he had me purchase for him on Ebay a few years ago. He paid for it… I just bid for him.
        Dick knows Red and Whites like no one else I know!

  9. Not m-fine from NY
    Not m-fine from NY says:

    Happy St. Patrick’s day to WoodyBoaterville. Hopefully many of you are allowed to celebrate where you are. Here in the People’s Republic of New York, Supreme Leader Cuomo has ordered all restaurants and bars close until they have reached bankruptcy. I am not sure placing the highest possible burden on the people with the lowest risk until they revolt is good public policy, but I guess we are going to try it.

    All travel and public gatherings are banned, even virtual boat shows. I will have to secretly attend with my browser in the incognito mode formerly reserved for cautiously opening communications from Troy. Remember just because you don’t see me doesn’t mean I am not here. Unless, you are like Jim, standing next to a tray full of bacon. If the tray remains full, you can be certain that I am in fact not there.

  10. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    I came home from Going Boating to work on a tenants toilet replacement…somehow that seems appropriate to the time.
    I am going back asap.
    Va. says all old farts like me need to isolate.

    John in Va.

  11. Jack
    Jack says:

    To paraphrase Bill Shankley:
    Some people think the Gold Cup is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.
    That was how we saw it. The Eastern boats especially the Gales from Detroit, were bad, terrible, awful, not to be trusted,
    We were the guys in white hats. We were the CHAMPIONS!

  12. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    the hyro stuff is really interesting…we need to hear more about it….if any of us old dogs are left….I intend to be!

    John in Va…..off to the chesapeake

  13. Matt
    Matt says:

    For the first time in history, our community is ahead of the curve. HA. Think of all the Crab poppers left to rot. My fear all along was that if crap went down in FLA, you would have to spend 14 days in quarentene at home. Crazy times. And I thought, hey I will work on my boat and yard. NO WAY IN HELL. I have been sitting in front of my laptop all day starting at 5Am until 10 Pm, Its insane. But stuff is getting done.

  14. Troy in FL
    Troy in FL says:

    FYI: It is not that CRAZY here.

    Only bars that make one than 50% of their revenue from alcohol are being forced to close. Others can stay open if their tables are far enough apart and they only take 1/2 their capacity. Having outdoor dining seems to help.

    Today we got QUARANTINED at Pirats Oasis.

  15. Troy in FL
    Troy in FL says:

    We also got QUARANTINED in the lock for about 15 minutes.

    (Unfortunately my lock pic is too big and I don’t know how to compress it with my new program.

    • Troy in FL
      Troy in FL says:

      Some of us also got QUARANTINED at Palm Garden’s (which is staying open by the way.), but I forgot to take a picture of that.

      After that we were made to go really slow thru the Dora Canal.

  16. Don Palmer
    Don Palmer says:

    OK and here is a picture of Dick’s current Red and White that he had me purchase for him on Ebay a few years ago. He paid for it… I just bid for him.
    Dick knows Red and Whites like no one else I know!

  17. Cowboy BoB
    Cowboy BoB says:

    Hope boat racing can Survive and Health problems will be over to start Season
    They are finishing the Squire shop at HARM this year and hope to run at some events I Believe this Summer
    Randy puts lots of Hours in at the Museum on all the Toys hope to see his done some day
    Thanks all ! And thanks woody !
    Keep up the good work !!

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