One of the biggest adventures in my childhood was the Hydroplane races here in Seattle. I remember my Dad standing on the shores of Lake Washington, with me on his shoulders, and he was pointing to the lake and telling me that the boat that was flying by was the winner of the hydroplane race. This was in the mid 1950’s when I was little enough to be on his shoulders. I think it was probably one of the Slow Motion Boats he was pointing at that won that year.
The Hydroplane Raceboat Museum is in south Seattle: http://thunderboats.ning.com/ They have all kinds of memorabilia and hydroplanes. They have restored some of them. They call them Thunderboats in their website title.
As I know it, hydroplanes used airplane engines, according to my Dad.
Here is a tip, hang out around the pits on the shores of Lake Washington at Seafair in August and you will learn real quick what they mean about Thunderboats!
If you are close enough to the pits just wait in the crowd. You probably can’t get into the pit area unless you have a pass. You can just stand near there or sit on your ice chest if you have one and wait. Soon you will feel and hear it….RUMBLE! The earth shakes and vibrates when they turn on the engines of the hydroplanes. Now it is not just one engine it is many. It is amazing…! If you have a friend with you, watch their eyes get BIG!
A Timeline of Winners of the Gold Cup: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/APBA_Gold_Cup
The Hawaii Kai won in 1958 and I was a kid then. The pink boat was my favorite. You know it was sunk by the owners and is at the bottom of Puget Sound, AUGGH! What they have at the museum are models of the Hawaii Kai.
Let’s see: Slo Mo V and IV, Miss Bardahl, Miss Thriftway, Bill Muncey, Chip Hanauer, Mira Slovak are the ones I remember. There is an amazing story about Mira Slovak defecting. http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-mira-slovak-20140622-story.html
Last week I took the drive down to the Stan Sayres pits on the shores of Lake Washington south of the 520 floating bridge. They just opened the new one and it is now the longest floating bridge in the world. It was a beautiful sunny day. I drove through the Arboretum an along Lake Washington Blvd. right by the water. The whole trip from my house took two hours round trip but it was worth it. It is a narrow two lane road with various parks that you can stop at if you like and wish to dally. The Blvd. goes under the floating bridge on the western side of the lake.
See the two buildings off the right of the parking lot in the above photo. There is a courtyard between them with the tiles. These tiles are dedicated to the memory of those who loved the hydroplanes. My dad, Keith’s tile is there and easy to find. See my toes are pointing right at it. It is not real big but it works.
When I saw it I laughed, it reads Memory of Keith MacDonald & Tony Mazuk McScubalub. The reference is to the name of his boat, which he made and added hydrofoils to, and I have featured in a past post. It references Tony his dog and McScubalub who was a make-believe character of his sisters when they were kids. The name is very long and complicated and sillier than what I have presented here. In the photo below the tile is almost up to the door on of the building on the right.
It was a quiet but beautiful day at the Stan Sayres Memorial Park. The piers are lines up ready for the coming Seafair and August festivities here in Seattle. Close your eyes and visualize and feel the crush of people, the colorful hydroplane boats, big semi trucks, trailers, mechanics and realize it is packed when the races are here and the noise and rumble of the engines when the race time comes close. The boats are lined up around the course out on the lake.
My Dad even liked the little hydroplane boats that were raced on the Sammish Slough and I remember spending time at those races in Bothell. Apparently they are bringing them back. They have on the Seafair Schedule the Kenmore Hydroplane Cup. Cool!
The Blue Angels were a big deal for him as well. They are still pretty awesome. I can be working in my front yard and here them rumble when they are performing and sometimes one will come very close to my home.
Here is a cool photo of them over the Space Needle from the Queen Anne Neighborhood blog which has more wonderful pictures: http://www.queenanneview.com/tag/blue-angels/
Somehow, I believe, that my Dad is out their still searching for that perfect airplane engine!