Hydro History

Vintage hydro racing team
presents appreciation awards

By Fred Farley
Contributing Writer

(December 2002) – Dave Johnson of Madison, Ind., has been a hydroplane fan for most of his life. After having spent many years working on other people’s race boats, Johnson bought one for himself in summer 2000.
This was the Miss Close Shave II, a veteran campaigner, originally owned by Loren Charley of New Albany, Ind. It raced in the late 1950s and early ’60s in the old 225-cubic inch class.

Close Shave II

Close Shave II

The restoration process on the Close Shave II lasted two years. At the 2002 Madison Regatta, Johnson’s boat was put back in the Ohio River for the first time in 38 years.
“I couldn’t have done it by myself,” Johnson insists. “My brother, Joe, and all my friends made it possible. They were willing to lend a hand. My hat is off to them.”
To show his gratitude, Johnson and his wife, Jean, on Nov. 2 held a gala awards ceremony at the Miss Close Shave II boat shop.
Receiving plaques of appreciation were crew members Joe Johnson, Brian Johnson, Travis Johnson, Jim Kelley, Matt Sontag, Bruce Chalmers, Tony Wilson and Chris Burke.
Chip Custer and Herb Kant received recognition for their sponsorship contributions, Bob Cline for Internet support and Fred Farley for historical research.

Vintage Hydro group

Joe Johnson (center), Dave Johnson in
yellow shirt second row, and friends.

“Putting this boat back together has been a labor of love,” said Dave Johnson. “This year, for the first time, the Madison Regatta had a vintage show that included about 20 old race boats. We wanted to be a part of that – to show our support for our hometown regatta. My brother, Joe, was the chairman of the vintage event, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.
“Everyone helped in their own way. And I thank them all. Boat racing is a group effort. And that is certainly the case with Miss Close Shave II.”
Johnson’s boat raced on the American Power Boat Association circuit from 1957 to 1964. It competed at Madison, Louisville, Ky., Celina, Ohio, and New Martinsville, W.Va. Powered by a 221-cubic-inch Ford automotive engine, the Close Shave II scored a victory in the 1962 Marine Derby Regatta at Louisville with Loren Charley at the wheel.
“We started this restoration project because of our love of the sport, which has been such an important part of our lives for so many years,” Joe Johnson said. “We tried to do the best job that we could to do justice to the boat and to make the people of Madison proud of their hydroplane heritage.
“It was worth all of those long hours at the shop these past two years to bring this beautiful old boat back to life and back out on the race course.”

• Fred Farley is the APBA/HYDRO-PROP Unlimited Historian. He resides in Milton, Ky. Contact him at fredf@hotmail.com.

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