The Bob Speltz Legacy Lives On With A New Award To Be Presented In September

The Real Runabouts III Cover

Cover of The Real Runabouts Volume III – First Printing 1980 (Cover art by F.G. Thomas)

AS THE WOODY BOATER AUDIENCE CONTINUES TO GROW, we recognize that a certain segment of that audience may be new to the antique & classic boating hobby. It wasn’t long after we first became involved in the hobby that we learned of Bob Speltz and the enormous contribution he made to the sport & hobby through his series of books – The Real Runabouts Volume I thru VII, Outboard Motors Book and Book of Canoes.

The Bob Speltz legacy extends far beyond his extensive research and books, as he made many true friends and contributions along the way – which earned Bob the respect of everyone he crossed paths with.

Here at Woody Boater we refer to our Bob Speltz library on a weekly basis when researching a story, to learn more about a specific marque or to help a viewer with information on their boat. Every time I open one of Bob’s books, I find something interesting and tend to spend way more time than I originally anticipated – being drawn further into the book. It’s great.

So regardless if you are new to the hobby or a veteran, The Real Runabouts series of books is a wonderful resource and a great investment.

Now the Bob Speltz Legacy lives on with a new “Spirit of the Sport” award. – Texx

First some brief history thanks to historian and fellow Woody Boater Lee Wangstad – Editor of the Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes ACBS Chapter quarterly publication – The Boathouse.


Bob Speltz was inducted into the Hagerty Classic Marine Hall of Fame in 2009 – Photo courtesy Hagerty Marine Insurance.

Legacy of Bob Speltz – April ’97 BoatHouse
Lee Wangstad – BoatHouse Editor

Bob Speltz had always been fascinated by boats. As a child, he remembered pressing his nose against the glass of showroom windows to see the newest Gar Wood or Chris-Craft on display. A former social studies and economics teacher, he became ill with kidney disease in 1972 and was forced to quit teaching. He turned to writing and research as a way to spend his spare time and help pass the hours of dialysis he was underwent.

In 1977, Speltz authored and published The Real Runabouts, an anthology on the history of the inboard runabout from its inception and the first of its type ever written. A total of seven volumes preserves Bob’s remarkable knowledge and passion for antique boating.

He was honored by the Antique Boat Society of Manset, Maine as “Marine History of the Year” for 1978 and ‘79. In 1982, Land-O-Lakes changed its name to the Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes Chapter. He was a regular contributor to lake and boating magazines and continues avid research of antique and classic boats until his disease claimed him in 1994. Should the era of the wooden boat every truly end sometime in the future, Bob’s books will still be there to preserve the legacy of this craft for generations to come.

Lee Wangstad – Editor

The Real Runabouts III Back Cover

Back cover of The Real Runabouts Volume III by Bob Speltz (Cover art by F.G. Thomas)

Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes Chapter Inaugurates New Award At Woods and Water 2015.

The Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes Chapter (BSLOL) is inaugurating a new award at this years’ International Boat Show, September 25 and 26, 2015.

“As hosts of Woods and Water 2015 in the Brainerd Lakes area this year, we thought it appropriate to honor Bob Speltz’s legacy with this new award”, said Steve Shoop, BSLOL President. “As we thought about how to approach an award in Bob’s honor, it made sense to recognize something Bob valued: boats that get used regularly.”

The Bob Speltz “Spirit of the Sport” Award will be awarded to the boat that earns the highest number of points in ACBS judging which also participates in the chapter-sponsored pre-event boating days.

“BSLOL Chapter is holding it’s 40th Rendezvous the week before Woods and Water 2015 event, and ACBS is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year, as well”, said Dave Bortner, BSLOL event co-chair. “Woods and Water 2015 participants will have the opportunity to learn more about Bob Speltz during the shows, and we thought it the perfect time to honor his memory, and his legacy as the first historian of our sport. Bob loved boat shows, and loved seeing the boats being used. This award will live on in his honor for many years to come.”


The authentic silver cup, a boat racing trophy first awarded in 1909, is now the Bob Speltz “Spirit of the Award” cup.

The award itself, donated by Freedom Boat Service, is an authentic silver cup, a boat racing trophy first awarded in 1909. While the winners from 1909 through 1931 are engraved on the original cup, the winners from 2015 onward will be recognized with a plaque on a custom-built mahogany base.

Bob Speltz Land-O-Lake Chapter

Great idea for an award recognizing the legacy and contributions Bob Speltz made to the hobby. Thanks for sharing this story with us today.

For more information on Woods and Water 2015 events, including registration and accommodations, judging, pre-events / schedules and the International boat show you can Click Here to go to their website. The Woods and Water 2015 event is shaping up to be the highlight of the week in Minnesota Lake Country.

For more information on great Bob Speltz Land-o-Lake Chapter website and Boathouse quarterly magazine you can Click Here.

Last but certainly not least, the story of Bob Speltz induction into the Hagerty Classic Marine Hall of Fame is a nice read, you can find that on the Hagerty Marine Insurance website by Clicking Here.


10 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowskk
    Greg Lewandowskk says:

    I commend the BSLOL chapter and Dave Bortner for this great award and tribute to Bob Speltz. I also have owned the series of books for many years, and cherish the collection. They became even more of a great reference source when the Index book was published by Tony Mollica, Jr. In 2008.
    See you all in Algonac next weekend!

  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    I have a couple of his books and they are terrific. On a side not here in St Michaels I came across Old School and she still looks and runs beautifully. Also met up with Al (Pappy) with his CC Sea Skiff, which I 1st though was a Lyman. Luckily he only gave me 20 lashes with a cat-of-9tails. I’ll post picture later this week.

  3. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    When I got involved in the hobby in the early 80’s Bob was my mentor. We traded letters & phone calls. In 1982 or ’83 they asked the two of us to be honorary Judges at Tahoe. They knew better than to let me actually judge anything. It was a most enjoyable weekend….And then there was the day Todd Warner introduced me to Bob’s mother….What a lady !…The visit went well into the evening ending only after a midnight visit to the Holiday Inn where she had to see “her boys” who were participating and a toy boat show at the hotel pool. Lotta memories there.
    Any tribute to Bob Speltz is well deserved.

  4. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    That cup is amazing. Hats off to Dave Bortner for even making the trophy something special.

  5. Reddog
    Reddog says:

    Congrats to BSLOL chapter for creating this new award. That trophy will be amazing when finished. I never met Bob but he must have been a real cool guy. I have read a couple of his books ( and they are very informative) did anyone notice the face on the guy driving the boat on the cover of R. R. III. He doesn’t look too happy. Like he’s saying I can hardly wait til this date is over and I can get this crazy woman off my boat

  6. Lee Wangstad
    Lee Wangstad says:

    Bob was a neat guy. His mom, Angie, was equally amazing. A visit to Albert Lea was never a quick trip, but was filled with so much information that my head would be about to burst. I wish that I could take credit for the great summary of Bob’s life, but I didn’t author it. Just had to set the record straight. Someone did, but I am not aware of just who. I like Reddog’s comment, and I must agree with his assessment of the cover of RR III.

  7. Stan Petersen
    Stan Petersen says:

    Bob was a good friend. I tried to buy SAMAR V. No luck. I wonder if it is still in North Iowa. I did restore his 1954 Chetek, however. It is now on display at the Iowa Lakes Maritime Museum on Lake Okoboji. Hopefully, it will be at the MLMM in Alexandria, MN for the Speltz program.

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