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April 2012

The John Humes Story
Part 1 
by Craig Fjarlie 

The April issue of the Unlimited NewsJournal, including the following interview with John Humes, was in production when we received word that Humes had passed away. We are pleased to share it with our readers as a fitting tribute to one of the most beloved crew chiefs in unlimited racing.

     Humes was on the crew of Miss Madison for more than 20 years. He started washing parts and eventually became crew chief. His organizational skills and vision helped move Miss Madison from an also-ran to a respected entry with a record of consistent, strong
finishes. Although he stepped aside as crew chief before the Oberto Company signed on as sponsor, he helped lay the groundwork for the team’s rise to the National Championship. He served on the Board of Directors until his death on April 4, 2012.
     John Humes was born in Madison in 1946. He had eight sisters and three brothers. He graduated from Madison Consolidated High School in 1965. It was about the time he graduated from high school that he ventured into the Miss Madison shop one evening while the crew was working on engines. The interview that follows was conducted by Craig Fjarlie at Humes’ home in Madison in July, 2000.
Did you have an interest in mechanical things when you were growing up?
Not really. A mechanical interest like any other kid coming up, you know. You wanted to have your first vehicle and be able to do what you wanted with it, and I was very successful with that. I worked for an auto parts store and got to buy parts 10 percent over cost, so there was an urge for me to buy speed when you can buy parts cheap. Had a good friend that was a decent mechanic so I had a nice ride several times. But other than that, as far as getting involved with the boat, I mean, there was nothing there. I had no expertise or anything. I’m just like any other kid. It’s kind of ironic. The way it happened is we lived two blocks from the ball park where the boat shop was at the time.
The one that was down in the gully?
Yeah, uh huh. So I just happened to venture in there one night after a ball game and they were in there working. I’ve told this story quite a few times. They were in there building motors and it was spring of the year. They were grindin’ banks and at that time, nobody had anything sophisticated it was just hang a drill from the rafters and hone away, you know. So I walked in there. I think it was Dave Stewart who was honin’ banks. I was standing around and he says, “Hey, grab that bottle over there for me, will ya?” And he sprayed a few times and he said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll do the honin’ here and you do the sprayin’.” And that was my initiation to getting started being around the Miss Madison team. Just kind of ventured on. I hit and missed a night here and a night there, nothin’ spectacular, I mean, just a flunky hoppin’ in doing what he could.
And this is about what year, do you think?
That was the year I got out of high school, that would’ve been the spring of ’65. I just kind of hit and missed helping them out. Didn’t do any traveling.
Do you remember some of the first times you went on the road with the boat?
’66 was the first year that I got to do any traveling with them. We did a pretty limited schedule.
Guntersville, that was an experience in the early years for me, because segregation was pretty vivid then. We went down and booked into a hotel room and the guy says, “Where’s he staying?” Of course, “He’s with us, he’s on our team.”
Mmmm.
Then we go to breakfast the next morning. “What’s the deal with this guy?” “He’s on our race team.” “Well, he can’t eat here.” “Well, if he can’t eat in here, we don’t eat in here.” This wasn’t only the Madison team, this was all the other race teams. We ate in this one big restaurant down in Guntersville. Guntersville was kind of a small . . . it was ‘bout like Madison, you know, but it was, well . . .
It’s the south.
Yeah. And Phil Cole was instrumental in this deal and I think Phil knew what he was doing. He was a pretty good civic leader ‘round here in Madison, spearheaded a lot of things. He knew what the deal was gonna be and we made a test run and we won. We won. (Humes believes the incident occurred in 1968 – Ed.)
Okay.
I mean, I look back at that. It was the early part of my racing. I had not been anywhere out of Madison, per se. Around your home town you don’t worry, you don’t think about things like that. Really, I didn’t think about it when I went down there.
Until it happened.
Until it happened, and then I said, “Oh, man.” That’s part of being in racing, I guess. But then I look back since then, all the places I’ve been and all the people I’ve met, that’s a thing of the past. I know it still exists, that’s something, it was a milestone. I think back in the early years before I even got involved in racing that Bernie’s chauffeur used to come and stay at houses in our neighborhood and I never thought about it. There was a guy in Detroit named Walker that used to do the clock. I think he was probably starting to get in after the segregation thing started . . .
He’s a black guy?
Yeah, he’s a black guy, real big black guy. He did the clock deal for ‘em. I mean, I never thought about things like that, but that was part of boat racing. I mean, people involved in boat racing that a lot of people probably don’t know about or didn’t think about.
Were you at the ’66 President’s Cup when they had the triple fatality?
No, no . . .
Or Detroit when Chuck Thompson was killed?
Didn’t make any of those. We went to Florida, Tampa, when Bill Brow was killed.
That was ’67.
One of my first years. It’s a long time ago.
Were there some people who were mentors for you when you were getting started?
Well, Dave Stewart taught me a lot. Everybody had an area that they were knowledgeable, that they were good at. He was a person that didn’t want to let go. He wanted to kind of oversee. Well, you can’t do that, you’ve got to trust somebody.
You can’t do it all yourself.
You gotta trust the guy that did the accessory housing, you gotta trust the guy that did the crank, you gotta trust the guy that did the rods, you gotta trust the guy that filed the bearings. Everybody did their part and we made an assembly. That was a good teaching part for me, you know, let somebody help, let somebody do it. As the years went on, different people came in the Miss Madison shop to help as volunteers. It’s too bad it’s not that now,
because that took away 90 percent of team camaraderie. People being together, not just it’s a pay check to you, something that you can put together by being men, or women, and make it happen. That’s what we did in the early years. I’ll put that to anybody living now, I think we as Miss Madison, I’ll say from the mid-’70s through the Allison era, we were the best Allison builders in the sport. We had limited equipment and we took limited, marginal equipment and made good motors.
Were you working with the crew in ’71 when they won the Gold Cup? What do you remember about that day?
Well, actually, we had a limited program. There was Dave Stewart, Don McKay, Charlie McCluggage, Ray Hulon, and myself. Don and I kind of drifted away in ’70, ’71. Then Bobby Humphrey came on board. They picked up (Harry) Volpi, you know he was with Harrah’s, he and his other buddy, but they were just kind of in and out a little bit. Don and I weren’t really traveling with them all the time in those two years. That’s why you don’t see any footage of me in anything they did. I mean, I was around but wasn’t working on the team at the time. I wasn’t down in the pits. I was like all the other people, I was up on the street. And it was a good year. If we hadn’t won, it would’ve been like any other year we were in hydroplane racing. But we did win, it was special. That’ll always be something we can claim title to.


You could include winning the Atomic Cup a couple weeks later, too.
Here we were again, running on limited equipment.
What kind of inventory did the team have then?
We had trailer loads of parts when they acquired all the stuff from (Sam) DuPont. They brought trailers in and every time the boat shop moved, they just hooked up the trailers and moved them to another spot. They really never unloaded those trailers. In ’72 I came back into the team and we went into all the trailers we had, took out every part we had, catalogued it, boxed it, cleaned it, good parts, bad parts, and that’s when we realized we had a lot of equipment. Everybody says, well, gosh, we don’t have any motors. Yeah we do, they’re out in the trailers! You know, we didn’t have a big enough shop to put ‘em in.

It was pretty small in those days.
It was the only place they had to work. It wasn’t big enough to get the boat in. They didn’t have a whole lot of space to work on motors. You had to give up one for the other. Work on the boat somewhere else, work on the engines here. So, in ’72 we just started through these trailers and getting all these parts in order. We built motors and started running the turbocharged, fuel injection in ’74.
In ’72 they had the new boat. What was the decision process in getting the new boat?
Well, that was . . .
Were you consulted or . . .

No.
. . . was that strictly the Board?
The Board took care of everything else, we took care of the shop. Back then, you know, if somebody had something that worked, you just copied it. Muncey had something that was working and we were in the mix for a new boat, so they said, “Hey, we’ll get one like Muncey’s.” So they go to Staudacher, Staudacher builds a boat, brings it to Madison, we plumb it, balance it all, I mean, it’s supposed to be put your equipment in and go run it.
Now, Staudacher or Gale?
It was a hand-in-hand deal there. You know, back then there wasn’t a lot of technology to fine-tuning a hydroplane.
They didn’t build ‘em on computers, because they didn’t have computers.
No, no.
Did they just get a bare hull from Gale?
They got the bare hull, it was painted. The only thing we didn’t have to put in was the oil cooler and the tank. You had to run the lines to the coolers, lines to the tanks, things like that. Wire the boat. Other than that it came to us basically ready.
As close to turn key as you could get.
Turn key as you could get, yeah. Here again, we were working outside, this was still down at John Paul park. In the old shop we worked outside. So here we were, trying to balance this thing. That was a trick. You know, like I said, you had to work with what you had.
At the Gold Cup in Detroit that year, Charlie Dunn was driving and stuffed the boat.
I’m really not sure.
You didn’t see the wreck? 
Didn’t see the wreck. That
happened Friday and a lot of the crew were getting ready to leave to go to Detroit and heard it on the radio.
So you were still in Madison.
Yeah, we were still here. Two guys would take the truck. The rest of ‘em would get off work. The two guys would get there and set up. Course, you always picked up people on site to help you. They had enough people up there that they went ahead and had the motor in it and fueled it and went out and ran. We were just in the dark on that, we didn’t know what happened, how he stuffed it or what happened.






The boat was pretty well damaged. They
missed the rest of the year, then came back and had the little exhibition race in October with Miss Timex and Lincoln Thrift.

After what happened they stripped the boat out and Gale fixed it again. They did it all in Detroit. Dave went and picked up the boat. They had it all painted. We brought it back to the shop and put it back together for that exhibition. Then . . . you can think back on those things and why did we even continue after that?
They lost a brand new boat. Was there any discussion about bringing out the Gold Cup winner to run, or was that boat too tired?
That boat was really tired, yeah. Even our ’72 boat, when we got rid of it and got the Pak boat, it was probably in better shape than the Gold Cup boat was when we ceased running it. But then, when you venture on up, after we had the Pak boat, and then went to get the new boat in ’88, that Pak boat was tired. We put sponsons and things on that. (Ron) Jones worked on it. But that thing was tired, too.





This is the end of part one of our interview with the late John Humes. Part two will appear in next month’s issue of the Unlimited NewsJournal.





U-1 (Ellstrom Spirit of Qatar) The team shop has been relocated and progress continues on hull upgrades in preparation for 2012. A refresh to the paint scheme is expected for the upcoming season.

U-5, 7, 57 Sources have verified that 2 of the Ted Porter raceboats and equipment remain at the Decatur race shop of PPE Racing. The U-57 raceboat and equipment is moving to it's new home in Chelan, Wa. More details about the U-57 operation will be coming soon from Precision Performance Engineering/Llc. No updates on progress to race one of the hulls (U-7) this season.

U-6 The Oberto/Madison crew continues to make structural upgrades to the hull to get her back to
100% after the 2011 season. The routine maintenance to engines, gearboxes, and systems is in full swing in preparation for the season opener in Madison.

U-9 The new capsule/cockpit installation is now complete on the Jones Racing hull. Engine cowling, new uprights, fairings, and other equipment upgrades continue in preparation for the season. Sponsorship for 2012 has not been announced yet.

88 (former U-10) The Gregory family will return to Unlimited racing after a 3 year absence. USA Racing Partners will be running the former U-10 (Budweiser T-3) hull. With the return of the Gregory’s, they bring on board Degree Men as title sponsor and 2011 H1 Rookie of the Year and UIM World Champion Scott Liddycoat as driver for the 2012 season. Matt Gregory heads up the effort and the team will be working out of the Hydros Inc. shop in Tukwila, WA. There has been some movement of crew members from other race teams to put together or reunite the USA Racing Partners team. The H1 B.O.D. approved the number change from last years team running the 88 to the USA Racing Partners team hull and they will carry the 88 number in 2012. Matt Gregory informs the UNJ the former U-10 USA Racing hull has been gone through, all areas of the boat inspected, and some modifications made to be more responsive to changes in fuel flow since the team raced in 2008. Currently the boat is upside down in the shop and prepped for a new paint scheme reflecting the Degree Men sponsorship, with final preparations to be done in early May and testing scheduled for mid-May. Their first testing session in Tri-Cities will serve as a systems shakedown to make sure everything is in order and to get Scott Liddycoat comfortable with a new boat ride. As needed, they may see more additional testing time before leaving to start the 2012 season in Madison. Watch for an exciting new website from this team coming soon.


U-11 See the shop shots below for news and a photo update.

U-12 When the number 88 used in 2011 by Schumacher Racing was transferred to the USA Racing Partners team, Billy Schumacher Racing requested the U-12 number. As of our April deadline, there has been no further information concerning the U-12 or the plans from Schumacher Racing for this season.

U-13  The Spirit of Detroit unlimited team has previously reported they will be running at the A.P.B.A. Gold Cup with the Tubby's Grilled Submarine sponsorship however, no other updates on their plans for the balance of the 2012 season have come out of the Dave Bartush camp. The UNJ has learned there was some discussion for a working agreement with another H1 team to compete in the balance of the U.S. races, at this point those plans are not confirmed or finalized.

U-17 The Our Gang team has renewed some existing sponsors for 2012 and off-season maintenance continues throughout the hull during their weekly crew nights at the shop. Nate Brown reports they are also planning spring testing for their raceboat.

U-21 The latest information on sponsorship for the Go Fast Turn Left team is that Albert Lee will be onboard for the Seattle’s Albert Lee Cup and further sponsorship is being pursued for any additional appearances in 2012 for this team.

U-22 Mike Webster has shared information about progress on major upgrades to the U-22 race boat.
New cockpit installation is nearing completion, engine work continues with gearbox improvements and a refreshed paint scheme is all in the spring plans for this team.


U-100 Progress continues to focus on the “Casper” hull for the 2012 season though there has not been much activity in the Leland shop recently.

T-53 Project
U-18 Bucket List Racing Some new team developments are coming from Kelly Stocklin, an experienced inboard limited class driver, builder, and owner. He has acquired a G class (former North American Challenge Cup Series) boat, the G-13 Tempo and has plans to retrofit the automotive powered hull with a T-53 turbine and race in the H1 Unlimited series. He has obtained approval from H1 to see if this engine and boat size is a viable option to compete in the unlimited class. He has been consulting with several well-established unlimited crew members and work begins on this project soon. Stay tuned, we will try to keep you updated as project develops…..



______________________________________

U-11 March Shop Shots
Lon Erickson photos




The Peters & May/URG team has had the boat stripped
down; systems rebuilt, turned the boat over, and reworked tunnel area running surfaces, in addition to stern modifications. The hull has been turned right side up and systems going back in for planned spring testing.
Manufacturing and building depth in parts
has been a priority and finishing up a third
competitive motor. In bottom right photo,
Lon's father, Don Erickson and Scott Raney discussing and explaining upgrades to the U-11 team's turbine engine program
.









The former U-31 Circus Circus &
U-25 Pay ‘n Pak arrive at H&RM

Glenn Raymond & Lon Erickson photos/slideshow

Bob Steil has funded the acquisition of the 1979 U-31 Miss Circus Circus (2) (#7931) for the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum to restore as his 1979 U-2 The Squire Shop (2). Bob Steil campaigned race boats on the unlimited circuit from 1977 through 1986 and was interested in bringing back one of his hulls. The best option still existing and available was this former Miss Circus Circus hull. The ’79 Circus Circus hull and the ’79 Squire Shop hull were both Dave Knowlen and Norm Berg duplicate hull designs, with the only major difference being the construction materials. The current Circus hull being restored raced as the Miss Circus Circus (2) through 1980, U-77 Spirit of the Air Force in ’77, The Squire Shop (3) ’81-’83, U-30 Domino’s Pizza ’85, Greater Peninsula ’86, and Seaco Aviation Fuels 1987. It currently is in the color scheme of when it last ran as Seaco Aviation but will be restored to running condition as the’79 The Squire Shop (2). The Squire Shop was probably best known as one of the earlier rides of Chip Hanauer, but other drivers like Tom D’eath and Earle Hall also drove this version of the Squire….


Ken Muscatel has purchased the 1973 U-25 Pay n Pak (#7325). This boat, aka “The Winged Wonder,” was a multi-year National Champion and Gold Cup winner that raced for 15 years. It ran as Pay ’n Pak (1) until 1975, Atlas Van Lines (8) in’76, then back to Pay’n Pak (1) for 77. It was sold to Madison in 1978 running as Miss Madison (4), Dr. Toyota, Frank Kenny Toyota, Rich Plan Food Service, Miss Rich Plan, American Speedy Printing (3), The Ching Group, Holset/Miss Madison, and Holset/Mrs. Madison names through 1988. Many great drivers were behind the wheel of this hull, among them were Mickey Remund, George Henley, Jim McCormick, Ron Armstrong, Bill Muncey, Jon Peddie, Milner Irvin III, Ron Snyder, Andy Coker, Tom Sheehy, and Jerry Hopp. The boat is currently in the Holset/Miss Madison paint scheme, but it will be restored and rebuilt to running condition in the Pay n Pak colors and configuration.

See the March HydroFile for photos of the U-25 Pay ’n Pak and U-2 The Squire Shop to see what they will look like when restored. ~Ed.

Time Capsule
50 Years Ago; 1962
by Kirk Pagel


Following the 1960 season, owner Willard Rhodes announced that his Miss Thriftway (#5960) would have a new name in 1961 becoming Miss Century 21, to help promote the Seattle World’s Fair. In 1962 Miss Century 21 continued her winning ways with Bill Muncey at the wheel. Muncey posted five wins and one DNF. One of those victories was the 1962 Gold
Cup in Seattle.

     With those five race victories Miss Century 21 easily captured the 1962 High points Championship.  At right, Bill Muncey and the U-60 Miss Century 21 at Coeur D'Alene. ~~ H&RM Collection photo



Three new hulls for 1962 were Miss Bardahl (#6240), Notre Dame (#6207) and Such Crust IV (# 6277). These new hulls finished third, fourth and fifth respectively, in the season high points chase. Miss Bardahl won just one race in 1962, the season finale at Stateline Nevada for the Harrah’s Tahoe Trophy.

     This boat would go on to win eleven more
races in 1963 1964 and 1965, including three
Gold Cups, a record since the 1930’s, before it was retired. Ron Musson and the new U-40
Miss Bardahl (3) testing on Lake Washington at right.  ~~ H&RM Collection photo








Shirley Mendelson was the daughter of Herb Mendelson, who owned three boats also named Notre Dame. His last race was in the 1947 President’s Cup on the Potomac River. Notre Dame (3) finished second. By 1962 she was married to Dr. Fraser McDonald, her second husband who had served as her father’s physician. Shirley asked the University of Notre Dame for permission once again to carry its name and seal into competition, which was granted. ~Ed.


     At right, the new Notre Dame (4) docked at Seattle in 1962. The hull was designed and built by Les Staudacher.
~~ Shirley Mendelson-McDonald Collection photo









Despite all the experimentation in the 50’s running twin Allison’s, which proved it was a losing proposition, Jack Schafer invested in another new twin-engine unlimited for 1962. This was his third boat named Such Crust IV. It proved, once again, twin-engine boats couldn’t be competitive against the lighter single engine boats. ~Ed.

     Fred Alter and the new U-77 Such Crust (3) at speed in Detroit. ~~ Sandy Ross Collection photo





A fourth new hull was the second $Bill (# 6221) but after an 11th place finish in the season opener at Lake Coeur D’Alene she came back to tie for first place in the season finale at Lake Tahoe, but lost out on total elapsed time in the final heat and took second instead. At right Rex Manchester and $Bill returns after a run on Lake Washington.
~~ Schoenith Collection photo


     Bill Schuyler’s new $Bill was designed and built by Les Staudacher. It replaced his first one which was designed and built by Fred Wickens and later bacme the U-45 The Wanderer.~Ed.




The oldest boat on the circuit in 1962 was the U-37 Miss Seattle (#5137) which began its career as Slo Mo Shun V. ~~Tony Bugeja
Collection

     After Miss Seattle Too was destroyed at Seattle, the Stoen brothers brought out Miss Seattle for Lake Tahoe. This was its only appearance of the season and the final race of the former Slo-mo-shun V until 1965. The Stoen’s sold Miss Seattle to K.C. Murphy and Bob Gilliam who raced it as Berryessa Belle that year.~Ed.





Another old hull, the U-30, Hurricane VI
(#5305) appeared back in 1953 as the U-5
Such Crust V. At right, the crew launches
Hurricane VI in Lake Tahoe. ~~ Roger Newton photo

     In 1954 Such Crust V (and Such Crust IV,
renamed to Pace-A-Long) was leased to Fred
Van Lenneps and renamed Trot-A-Long. He
was one of Horace Dodge’s brother-in-laws
and liked racing the “Ponies,” hence the names. Bill Stroh became the owner in 1955 (Miss Detroit), J.P. Murphy in 1956 (U-30 Movalong), and Morlin Visel in 1960 (Hurricane VI).~Ed.



A total of twenty boats raced in competition in 1962, with another three, the U-19 Coral Reef (#5719), U-44 Fascination II (#5888-2) and U-99 Miss Detroit (#59188) that did not
compete for various mechanical problems.
~~ Kirk Pagel photo

     Austin Snell, owner of Snell Distributing, originally raced it as Miss Rocket, named after his Rocket U-Save gas stations in Tacoma. The name was changed in 1958. ~~ Ed.




    _______________________________________________________

A Explosive Day at Seattle’s Gold Cup
Remembering the former Miss Pay’n Save

Saturday August 4th was not a good day for the U-47 Miss Seattle Too (#5847) and driver Dallas Sartz. In heat 1A, Miss Seattle Too exploded and scattered boat parts and wood chips all over the Lake Washington racecourse. It didn’t do Dallas Sartz any good either.
     At the start of 1A, Miss Seattle Too and Dallas Sartz were on the outside and hit the line starting first, Miss Madison was next followed by Miss Bardahl (3). Roaring towards the first turn, Sartz was just setting up and running around 155 mph when Miss Seattle Too started to kite badly after hitting a swell coming from shore. The boat porpoised twice, then nosed down sharply and hooked the right sponson, burying it in the water. It hit Lake Washington hard and quickly came apart at the seams. The geyser of water went 40 feet in the air, carrying pieces of Miss Seattle Too, and finally, Dallas Sartz with it. He was lucky to survive as the boat disintegrated around him. Sartz hit the water hard, but still conscious, and treaded water until the Coast Guard rescue helicopter arrived. Red flares went up, flags flew, and the cannon went off over the Lake Washington racecourse stopping the heat. Lee Levy, the Coast Guard helicopter pilot, hovered over the bobbing Sartz while Sheriff’s diver Tom Regan jumped out to rescue him. He put him carefully in the basket so the helicopter could transport him to medical attention in the pits. He was then quickly rushed to Virginia Mason Hospital. Miss Seattle Too sunk into the murky water of Lake Washington. It left nothing but the wood chips and splinters to show where it had gone down. Photographer Bob Carver said he knew something was wrong with Miss Seattle Too before the heat started, so he had the camera trained on it and caught its explosive end. In the pits and on along the shore tension was high and rising. Milo Stoen and the crew were holding their breath waiting to find out if Dallas Sartz was all right. A sigh of relief came when it was announced over the public address system that he was not severely injured. Sartz suffered a broken leg and a shattered left knee, plus several bumps and bruises from exiting the disintegrating boat. This was his last ride, he retired from unlimited driving after this.
     Miss Seattle Too sank in 120 feet of water in several pieces, which were brought up that Monday. This was the end of Glen and Milo Stoen’s former Miss Pay’n Save. As you can see from the photo, there wasn’t much left to rebuild after they gathered all the pieces together.
      The Stoen brothers resurrected Miss Seattle with Bill Brow and Red Loomis sharing the seat for Harrah’s Tahoe Trophy race at Stateline, Nevada. As for Glen and Milo Stoen, they had Ted Jones build a new boat for 1963; Miss Exide.~Editor










Another Victim of the Times
A few weeks ago, I opened the mailbox and found a copy of Boating Magazine. I assumed it was a sample from a publisher who was hoping I would subscribe. I’ve never known Boating to carry racing news, so I looked at other mail first. Finally, I glanced inside the front cover only to find a notice. Powerboat magazine was ceasing publication, and Bonnier Publishing would be sending Boating magazine for the duration of my subscription to Powerboat.
     I began subscribing to Powerboat over 40 years ago. I had been to the unlimited race in Dallas in 1971 where I was given a sample copy of Powerboat. It had plenty of racing coverage and within a few days my completed subscription form was in the mail.
     The recent demise of Powerboat was hardly a complete surprise. Long-time publisher Bob Nordskog died a few years ago. He was a life-long racer and former President of the American Power Boat Association. It was no secret that Powerboat was a labor of love for him. If the magazine lost money, Nordskog had the resources to keep it afloat. After his passing his family attempted to keep it going, but eventually sold the name to another publishing company. The first hint of trouble was when the magazine went from monthly to bi-monthly. Last summer there was a longer gap with no Powerboat in the mail. The December, 2011, and February, 2012, issues appeared as scheduled and it appeared the magazine was still hanging on. Then, in early March came the news of Powerboat’s demise, on a note inserted inside the front cover of Boating.
     Powerboat is hardly the first boating magazine that has dropped from the scene. There are too many to list them all. I think back to the 1940s and ‘50s, when magazines routinely carried extensive coverage of hydroplane racing. Sports Illustrated covered races, driver Russ Schleeh even was featured on the cover. Yachting, The Rudder, and Motorboating and Sailing always covered the Gold Cup and frequently covered other races; Sea and Pacific Motorboat covered regattas on the West Coast. Lakeland Boating, later Lakeland Yachting, covered events in the Great Lakes region. Speed and Spray focused on smaller classes. More recently, Wil Muncey’s Boatracing magazine was on the scene in the 1980s, and Trailer Boats magazine had a regular racing column into the mid-1990s. A few years ago, Extreme Boats had a brief but flashy existence. A number of tabloids have come and gone, including Race Boat and Industry News, Boat News, and American Boating.
     One of the few boating magazines still in circulation that has a regular racing column is Florida-based Southern Boating. Their focus is more on sailing regattas and offshore, but once every two or three years they give a nod to hydroplanes. When the unlimiteds raced in Miami in the 1970s, Southern Boating (known in those days as Go Boating) published the official program.
     The loss of Powerboat, and so many other boating magazines that covered racing, represents a reflection of U.S. culture. First, it’s been my experience that most people who have pleasure boats are interested in product news and cruising destinations. People who race are interested in regatta coverage. There’s little overlap of interest between those who enjoy powerboat racing and sailing regattas. There’s even less interaction between those who want product reviews, fishing equipment, and vacation destinations and those who care about racing in any form.
     Second, peruse a newsstand and look at popular titles. Our cultural obsession with celebrity sleaze is matched only by publications catering to personal fitness, guns, and high tech. Even the most popular woman’s magazines have changed from Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, and Good Housekeeping to In Style, Shape, Self, and the like.
    A few weeks ago I was listening to a National Public Radio station in Seattle. I heard a commentator say NASCAR’s popularity has hit a plateau and the fan base is growing older. When I was a child, boxing was on prime-time television twice a-week. Now, traditional boxing has been relegated to cable channels. Recently, something called Extreme Fighting has gained a toe-hold in the sports market although I’m not convinced it will have staying power once the novelty wears off.
     I will miss Powerboat, even though its format and content the last few years was a far cry from the magazine in the 1970s and ‘80s. It was one of the few magazines that put boat racing on slick paper with good writing and eye-catching color photos. Our culture is changing with the growing emphasis on instant news via the internet and social media. Still, there was something to be said for keeping a stack of magazines available for reference, ready to rekindle memories, without having to worry that it could all be gone in an instant because the delete key was pressed at the wrong moment. Some of the cultural changes we are witnessing leave me more wistful than excited. Saying good-bye to Powerboat is one of those changes.


Coming next month in the UNLIMITED NewsJournal

The John Humes Story part two,
Exclusive Interview about the 2012 Season,
HydroFile Race Team News,
and more.........

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