Inboard Racing, A Color Album by Bob and Elladine Foley

Inboard Racing, A Color Album by Bob and Elladine Foley
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 Book Review by Richard Parks, Photographic Consultant Roger Rohrdanz

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Inboard Racing – A Color Album is a soft cover book with 62 color plates showing hydroplane and runabout race boats and their drivers. The text and photographs are by Bob and Elladine Foley; this volume is a companion album to Inboard Racing – A Wild Ride. The book measures 11 inches in width by 8 ½ inches in height. While it is called an album, it has the feel of a calendar, only without the dates. Resist the urge to cut out the photos and mar the book, but if you have to frame these fine prints to adorn your garage or den, buy an extra book to keep on your coffee table. The text is limited but the photographs are impressive and are a full 11 by 8 ½ inches on high quality, heavy bond and glossy-waxed paper. The author/photographer is the editor and publisher, with assistance from AuthorHouse in Bloomington, Indiana. The ISBN# is 1-4208-8279-1(sc) and the Library of Congress number is 2005911104. You can order Inboard Racing – A Color Album through the author or from Amazon.com, AuthorHouse.com or any bookstore. The 62 prints have been culled down from over 250 color photographs that the author originally intended to include in Inboard Racing – A Wild Ride. The size and cost of such a book became impractical and so Foley picked out 62 that would best represent their classes in boat racing. The photographs were taken at races in Washington, California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. The cameras used by the photographer included a Konica Rangefinder, 35-mm Argus C-20 and a Honeywell Pentax H-3. The photographer used 35-mm color transparency film.

When Bob Foley wasn’t racing his boat, Full House Mouse, he and his wife, Elladine Foley, were taking photographs and recording the history of boat racing as they witnessed it. Inboard Racing – A Color Album is the result of that effort and we can only hope that Foley continues to publish more of his work in the future. Since there is little text and that is captions, the book is not broken down into chapters but into the various American Power Boat Association (APBA) boat racing divisions. The first category is the 225 cubic inch Hydroplanes. The 225 class used the Ford and Mercury flathead V-8 engines and were capable of speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. The flathead V-8’s were later superseded by small block Ford and Buick engines. The boats pictured in this class were Bob Best Jr’s Special Edition, Marion Beaver’s Uncle Gummy, Gummy’s Ghost driven by Wayne Thompson, After Math driven by Mickey Remund and Ty Evan’s Ty’s Toy. The E Racing Runabouts ran either a 246 c.i. engine on methanol or a 330 c.i. motor on regular gasoline and were capable of speeds in excess of 100mph. Wes Knudsen is pictured driving his boat Stardust, which won 5 National Championships. Bud Murphy is shown in his 4-time National Championship boat, the Go For Broke. The next category was the 150 c.i. and 2.5 litre hydroplanes and they often used the Ford V8-60 midget engines. Four boats are featured; Bud Meyer’s Avenger 9, Jay Root’s La Cucaracha II, Howard Arnett’s Invader IV and Dr Hank Eastman’s Piranha too.

The Ski Racing Runabouts had a 400 c.i. maximum engine size and were often powered by Chrysler Hemi’s or the big block Ford V8’s. Ed Olson is shown in his Cream Puff IX, Don Towle is driving the Haf Gast Too, Tony Maricich is in Suddenly! And Ladd Penfold is seen in Hullin’ Ice. The highly popular 136 and 145 c.i. hydroplanes changed over the years to allow the Ford V8-60’s, Jeep, Henry J, Ford Falcon 6 and the SOHC Ford Pinto engines. Photographs include Drone, driven by Jim Vallely, Allan Ford’s Lanky, the Miss SM driven by Jim Mitchell, Guy Del Vecchio’s Sunset Too, Kenny Dumbauld in his Obsession and the Six Pak driven by Dick Sanders. The 280 c.i. hydroplane class was created to run showroom stock engines. The most popular were the 265 c.i. Chevrolet small block and the 273 c.i. Plymouth motor. Those shown are; Tijuana Taxi, raced by Jerry Ballard and Gerrit Piek, Joe Siracusa’s Pepperoni, Jack Schafer Jr’s Foxy Lady, and Wade In The Water, driven by Wade Williams. The Crackerbox Runabouts are still a fan favorite. These little boats are two man affairs with a driver and riding mechanic. They bounce around and swivel while reaching speeds of 100mph. The Patterson built hull Hot Cinders won the National Championship on three occasions. The Lou Brand/Leonard Fulkerson Orangoutang was twice Crackerbox National Champion. Tom Patterson, Bob’s brother, is shown in the Sparkler. The Pattersons’ are still active in Crackerbox racing. Three boats are listed in the 7 litre Division I and II; Bill Allan’s Tool Crib Special, Warren Wolbert in Miss Heidelberg and Miss San Diego, driven by Bob Boster.

The smallest category is the 48 c.i. and 850 cc hydroplanes. Small but full of action and suspense and good competition for the money invested. Pictured in this class are; Ed Kelson in the Racket III, Kenny Harman’s Tinker Toy, Jack Philpott in Miss Better Bilt, Bob Brown in Go’n’Broke, Al Varden in Wing Ding, Bob Foley in Full House Mouse, Tom Davis Jr in PBS Blue Chip, Randy Pickton in 2 Slo II, Chuck Dale in Good Grief Too, Darrel Olson in Double Trouble, Steve Ball in Dragon Fly, the author in Full House Mouse, and Hang In There. The Super Stock Runabout class allowed for a 428 c.i. motor and a sixteen-foot hull length and became a very popular flatbottom racing division. Shown in the photographs are Don St John in Gil Suiter’s Never Enuff, Paul Grichar in Ron Cuellar’s Gone Broke and Jack Jones in Screaming Yellow Zonker. The 72 c.i. hydroplanes use Datsun and Toyota engines and reinvigorated the smaller classes. Greg Foster is shown driving Howard Arnett’s Race Ace. The 266 c.i. and 5 litre hydroplanes use Chevy, Ford, DeSoto and Pontiac motors and the hull length was extended from 16 to 19 feet over the years. Mickey Remund is shown in The Going Thing, Bud Burns is in the Shady Lady, Lloyd Marschall is in his Wickens built Mai Tai and the Patterson built Prancin’ Ansen is shown waiting for the five minute gun.

The K Racing Runabouts had no restrictions on engine size or modifications. The Chevrolet 427/454 c.i. engine was a very popular motor in this class. They often added methanol or nitromethane fuel. Hallett, Sanger, Biesemeyer, Rayson Craft, Hondo and other boat builders competed ferociously in this category. Those pictured include; Vic Van Ella in Oni Too, Paul Grichar in the Hobbit, Phil Bergeron in the Big Splash, Don St John in another Hobbit named boat, Al Grundstrom in Rare Hare and Jiffy, Gordon Jennings in Liberty, and the boats Suddenly! and Coldfire. The final class is the Unlimited hydroplanes, which replaced the Gold Cup Class. The Gold Cuppers were limited to 725 c.i. or 12 litres, but the unlimiteds had no limit on engine size. They used Allison V12 and Rolls/Royce Merlin V12 engines and their designs became ever more aerodynamic. Boat builders and designers like Anchor Jensen, Dan Arena, and Ted Jones created superfast boats. The class eventually adopted the turbine engine and capsules for safety and endurance. Featured are Fred Alter in Miss Bardahl, Harrah’s Tahoe Miss, Dean Chenowith in the Miss Budweiser, George Henley in Pay ‘n Pak, and the Thunderboats Miss U.S. and My Gypsy. Bob and Elladine Foley have put together a wonderful pictorial display of the boats that raced in the golden age of boat racing. 

The author can be reached at [email protected].