Is It A Race Boat, If It’s Called A Race Boat?


Chris Craft Special Racer And big Winner!

Yesterday on the ACBS award list, some comments were made regarding a little Special Racer Barrel Back, Like Mighty Mouse BTW, was not really a race boat and shouldn’t be judged that way. So we thought we might pose the question here for others to have an opinion. And you know you have one.


Racing Runabout. Is that just a name?

After all, if you have ever been to the races, cars and boats, just about anything is a racer, it’s more about the driver and use, than the boat. Ever been to the Pinto Races? Really, Ford Time bomb Pintos have a huge following in SCCA racing. PINTOS!



But just because Chris Craft called a boat a Racing Runabout, or “Special Racer” can it be judged next to a insane Hydro boat raced? Should the boat have a history? For example we know Mighty Mouse was raced. Alot, no documented history, but she was known in the area. Is she a racer? Hell yes! Is she as sweet as a Million Dollar huge race boat? You know what they say out in the universe regarding this issue. What ever floats your boat! Let us know what you think.


Race boat? Painted, ready for any takers. Or lunch at the local marina? Or race your buddys to the marina?




Race boat? Why else would they make that Hydro bottom? Not really different than the 16 Special Race Boat?  But built for ” Race Use Only” BTW, my #1 favorite boat of all time. BTW, its at Katzs Marina HERE

29 replies
  1. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Of course Mighty Mouse is a race boat! And a Super Hero. He survived a good glassing to live another day and your the overprotective parent. Perfect combination.

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    My opinion is no opinion.

    Categorizing, Judging, Phillips screws vs Reed and Prince screws, square head vs hex head engine mount bolts. I understand this is a big part of the hobby, but not my department. Hope we hear from some Judges.

    Let’s GO BOATING!

    • Greg Lewandowski
      Greg Lewandowski says:

      I’m with you Troy. I just want to enjoy using my boats however it feels right on any given day. If I feel like pounding the throttle to WOT every once in a while, I just do it because it feels and sounds good.

  3. Larry Forget
    Larry Forget says:

    Factory weekend Racers were as close as the public could own support for their favorite pro racers. Early 70;s Mopar Nascar WING cars like a Richard Petty.. Early 80’s here had 1500 cycles like a Honda world champ. Yesterday a member found SEVEN WareHouse Finds in the latest Honey Hole, Lower GEORGIA .!

  4. Ferdinand
    Ferdinand says:

    Again, this is just an opinion but “Raceboats” are boats that were raced. Using the car analogy, just because I own a 1963 289 Cobra doesn’t mean that I own a race car. It was never campaigned as a race car. Sure it goes fast-but that’s not the point. The point is that genuine “Raceboats” were entered in true historical racing events.

  5. Ferdinand
    Ferdinand says:

    In a hobby where we are judged by the right type of screw, the right engine, the right wiring, the right bilge paint… we ought to at least have a definition of what constitutes a category of boat. If you enter a boat into a class like racing and it wasn’t historically raced should it be in that class or should there be a deduction in points?

    I really hope that we get someone form the ACBS to respond to this thread.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      I wouldn’t worry about that, I am sure someone will chime in. Judging is a huge topic these days in the back room emails. We will tackle more on this subject tomorrow

  6. Sean
    Sean says:

    A “race boat” is a boat that was actually raced (with proof). Having raced cars for over 20 years, I can tell you they lead a very different life. Besides the obvious, of being used at 99% of their performance potential for much of the time, they are continually being pulled apart, rebuilt, modified (within the rules of course) and generally banged about. Bolts have rounded corners, parts are safety wired, extraneous bits are removed and a natural patina occurs quickly (although they look good at speed).

    To consider a race style boat that has not endured the heat of battle and the accompanying scars alongside a real racer is simply a mis-match for judging. (like comparing a survivor to a replica).

  7. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Like I said yesterday, just because the company called it a racer or raceboat, doesn’t make it a raceboat. If it actually raced, like Mighty Mouse then it is probably a race boat.
    The Chief Judge is probably making his way from Tahoe back home to Florida and isn’t listening in on this conversation…Hopefully he will comment someday.

  8. Capt. Slats
    Capt. Slats says:

    I’m with Ferdinand on this one. We’ve all raced our boats at some point. Whether its racing the sunset to the home port, or in some cases hurrying to the gas dock before it closes. Or maybe we’ve caught our friends out on the water and with a wink of an eye and turn of the throttle we’ve gone hammer down, we all have done it at one point or another. But unless your boat has raced in an official race, I don’t think its an official race boat. Based on how the scoring is currently done I don’t think so.

  9. Brian Aiken
    Brian Aiken says:

    I see the issue of putting a hard-driven three point hydro up against a pampered gentleman’s race. Even if both were actually raced in some way, it’s not apples to apples. Each will show the character of the life it lived and that story will quite different for each.
    That said, personally, I think that the ones that raced in sanctioned races should be in their own category for judging.
    That patch that was put on in ’48 and then painted over year after year of racing is a plus on a true racer. If someone’s pampered boat also raced, let them try to compete with other boats with much better racing provenance. My guess is that they will retreat to the land of perfect varnish after being shellaced by an 8 foot B runabout.

  10. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Agree with Ferdinand & Sean that it’s only a raceboat if it was actually used for competition. Some Aristocrafts like my Typhoon were raced. They are raceboats. Mine was not, so it’s not a raceboat.

  11. Ferdinand
    Ferdinand says:

    Both of the boats listed below were in the Tahoe show. Does it seem right that a 16 ft. Chris Craft “Race Boat” was included in the same judging class?

    By C.E. Lodge

    A piece of Houston race boat history will be returning to Texas for several days in April 2016. The historic race boat named DIXIE BABY has been fully restored and will be touring throughout the U.S. this summer.

    She was a key player of the Mississippi Valley Power Boat Association (MVPBA) in the 1920s. She won major race boat competitions with prominent Houstonian, owner L.A. Layne at the helm.

    Source, WoodyBoater

    MAYBE NOT II, 1926 22’ Nunes Brothers built, stepped hull, Tahoe vintage race boat.

    “Fleishhacker Wins (1931) Lake Title.

    “Dollar’s MERCURY takes second trailing by three seconds; fire, spills, provides thrills.”

    “ Yet neither Dollar nor Kaiser had counted on the re-emergence of another swift craft of yesteryear; Herbert Fleishhacker’s MAYBE NOT-II. It was this speedster again which would take home the coveted trophy (Championship Race) that day, capturing the headlines again. Back in the field after a four year absence, Herbert Fleishhacker Jr.’s MAYBE NOT II skimmed to victory against the close second of Stan Dollar Jr.’s MERCURY in the annual Tahoe Power Boat Club races last Sunday. Leading all the way three seconds ahead of the Dollar entry sped by the checkered flag …in a thrilling meet marked by plenty of excitement and near tragedy.”

    Source: Carol Van Etten, page 41, in her book: Lake Champions, In Pursuit of Tahoe’s Racing Title, 1914 – 1958

    • John Hanks
      John Hanks says:

      What have you been smoking Tommy! Of course it’s a race boat.. Get off your Century throne and call out the truth…

  12. Gene Porter
    Gene Porter says:

    If this is such a hot topic, I’m surprised no one on this thread has gone to the source!
    The ACBS definition of the “Racer” class of vintage power boats is
    “RACER–An inboard or outboard powered boat of planing or semi planing hull form, designed and used primarily for racing competition.”

    The “designed” primarily for racing can probably be documented, but the “used primarily for racing” not so much.

    Not many true “racers” seem to show up at ACBS judged shows, and I’m not aware of any classification issues having been raised – but I have been away from judging for some years.

    Probably a worthwhile topic for the next meeting of the ACBS Judging Committee. The Race Pig photo should be on the poster.

  13. Ferdinand
    Ferdinand says:


    My point exactly. Do you really think that the 16ft. Chris Craft Race Boat was used primarily for racing completion? Maybe it was, but I doubt it.

    The more important issue for me is that I like to see these old race boats restored and running. What a thrill to watch and see.

    The owners who put the effort and financial resources into these boats should at least have their entries put into a class where they can be competitive. I know that many do this just for the enjoyment that it brings them, but I also know that they like to get some recognition for their efforts. In the absence of that I can see the day when many of these boats won’t be restored and or preserved and that will be a sad and unintended consequence of ACBS misclassification.

  14. Brian Flaherty
    Brian Flaherty says:

    Technically the “Special Racer” was built based on the original order for a few matched gentleman’s racers for the wealthy to have yacht club races with… So if the hull design was born as a true race boat, does that not make it’s descendants also race boats?

    “Rascal” earned a platinum award for her restoration. I believe she would have received the same score no matter what category she was placed in. If the other raceboats were platinum level restorations then I am sure one of them would have one the big trophy…

    I’m sure the financiers backing “Dixie Baby” and “Maybe Not II” are disappointed that they didn’t win the big award but they also didn’t have platinum level restorations. If they really want the bragging rights then they need to spend a little time fixing their deductions and try again next year…

  15. Ferdinand
    Ferdinand says:

    This isn’t about Platinum level restorations… It’s about being in the right judging class. Race boats were actually raced. I’m just going to guess that the other entry was never in a sanctioned race.

  16. charley quimby
    charley quimby says:

    Chris Craft’s series of “race boats” such as the little 16-footers like Matt’s, the 19s, and the later red and white and varnished series were made to spur some interest in club racing events and some sanctioned races, and usually classed as “service runabout”. That was back when entry wasn’t as controlled or lawyered to death. I am hardly the expert on this, but it seems to me that if boats such as these have racing provenance, then it could be entered as a race boat. Most never saw an organized race, so they are just runabouts. Charley

  17. Sean
    Sean says:

    If you want to just look at race design… then every Cigarette, Formula 233 and Formula Jr., …every Donzi Classic 16, 18 and 22 is a racer along with many more designs as they all come from offshore racing. Now how many of them actually raced??? Sometime you also must think of the future (and plastic) when making decisions about today.

  18. Sean
    Sean says:

    … And what about “replica” racers? Are they “race boats” ?

    In my book not unless they have been raced in a sanctioned race….

  19. Timothy
    Timothy says:

    I am a race car fanatic. One thing that can make a normal car a “Race car” is it being raced a few times by someone famous and “Primarily used as a race car” also means nothing when a car is used as a race car once at LeMans in 1955 then driven as a street car for the the next 20 years. That’s hardly “Primarily”. Once there was a Ferrari 250 GTO that was a race car for a short while and then given to an old lady who used it as a grocery getter in Italy until the 1980s. I have no opinion about race boats because I am not educated on this topic but maybe my car analogy can be of some help.

    • Jim Staib
      Jim Staib says:

      Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they did. But here is a shot from “The History of Boating on the Fox Chain-O’Lakes” In small towns every weekend there were races. Sometimes it was a big utility and sometimes it was the 16′ BarrelBacks like Matt’s. These were Cadillac powered. I had one with a 390 in it. Maybe it was beer inspired but anyone with a boat could have FUN!!
      (Photo used with permission of David Lester, Author, And Vernon Kramer owner of photo)

  20. Jon
    Jon says:

    Chris Craft made four pre war boats which were special built and powered for racing — a 16 ft ” Special Race Boat ” built from 1937 to 1940, most of which were powered with a Chris Craft KB 121 hp triple carb race engine; a 16 ft stepped hull Hydroplane powered with the Chris Craft KB engine; a 19 ft. “Racing Runabout” from 1935 to 1936 powered with a choice of two multi carb race engines mfg by Gray Marine and Lycoming Marine; and a 27 ft Special Race Boat from 1930s to 1941 powered by a racing version of Chris Craft’s large V8 engine. After the war they produced a 19 ft Racing Runabout with a Chris 158 hp MBL.
    All of these boats came with special racing hull designs and were lighter in construction. The two 16 ft boats with their KB racing engines were designed to compete in the 225 racing class and some did race there. They replaced the Pre war 19 ft Racing Runabout which had raced in the 225 class before the 16 ft was introduced.
    Other companies made racing versions of their boats, including Century, Gar Wood, and Ventnor.
    I agree that there needs to be new classifications that distinguishes between gentlemen racers, stepped hull hydroplanes, and the later three point hydroplanes. This would encourage owners of these different race boats to join ACBS and bring their boats to our shows.

    • greg wallace
      greg wallace says:

      Chris Craft also produced a run of 26ft special raceboats in mid thirties, two of which had famous racing history. One was “Madishumi” and the other was Jack Dunn’s “Jay Dee” . The first pre-war 19 produced was also for Jack Dunn and raced as on of the “Jay Dee’s”. The first 27 “special” was custom built for David Gerli in 1937 who also campaigned a 19 among others under the “Lady Gen” monikers, all quite successful on a national level. Most of Chris Craft (and others) production racers had origins in racing and many were used for organized racing if not sanctioned events. I believe that as interest and participation in showing “raceboats” grows that subclasses should and will be created. For time being perhaps documented racing history should be worth bonus points.

  21. Sean
    Sean says:

    Maybe a little late to the party… but for potential future readers… Here’s some real race boats! (just found this today)

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