Thunder is Back
hydros to add
the roar of yesteryear
boats are scheduled
to run on the Ohio River between races
Special to RoundAbout
(July 2012) The thunder is returning to the
Lucas Oil Madison Regatta after an absence of several years. A fleet
of 10 vintage hydroplanes will join their H1 Unlimited counterparts
on the Ohio River this July 6-8. This will be the first time since 2004
that vintage boats were on the water at the Regatta.
The vintage boats are restorations (or duplications) of racing craft
that formerly competed on the American Power Boat Associations
Limited inboard circuit. The vintage hydros are scheduled to appear
and do exhibition fly-bys between heats of the Unlimiteds
throughout the weekend.
photo by Don Ward
Cousins River Rat
cruises the Ohio River during the
last vintage exhibition at the
Madison Regatta in 2004.
Two of the vintage boats are locally owned. These are
the F-128 Miss Jean, owned and driven by Dave Johnson of Madison, and
the H-69 River Rat, owned and driven by Bill Cousins of Trimble County,
Heres a brief look at the vintage crafts coming to Madison:
n Miss Jean is Johnsons second restoration in the last
decade. His first attempt was an old-timer from the 1950s named Miss
Close Shave II. The Miss Jean, named after Daves wife, never had
a racing career. The hull was, frankly, not in the best of shape and
unable to achieve a planing attitude when Johnson acquired it.
A lot of work was required to transform this ugly duckling
into the smooth-riding aquatic beauty that she is today.
Johnson had an eager crew of talented helpers. These included his
brother, Joe, Oh Boy! Oberto crew chief Mike Hanson and longtime
friend Jim Kelley. Joe Johnson serves as the Vintage Boat Chairman for
the Madison Regatta.
The River Rat is something of a legend in Midwest inboard
racing. It was designed, built, owned and driven by one man, who also
does his own engine work and manufactures his own propellers. Cousins
is truly a one-man band variety of boat racer.
by Don Ward
left, brothers Joe and
Dave Johnson of Madison, Ind.,
restored this vintage hydroplane
Miss Jean, which they named
after Daves wife.
Built in the early 1970s, River Rat was ahead of its time.
It would be difficult to find a pickle-fork bow that deep on any boat
of that era. There is no mistaking the River Rat when Cousins fires
up that supercharged Chrysler hemi. The boat is fast and
At least four of the boats scheduled to appear at this years Madison
Regatta bear a striking resemblance to each other: GP-200 Lauterbach
Special, GP-317 The Irishman, GP-1001 Miss Dinomytes and H-202 Heavy
Duty. Thats because they were all designed and built by the
late Henry Lauterbach of Portsmouth, Va. A master craftsman, no
one ever complained about the quality of workmanship on a Lauterbach
hull. In the 1970s and 1980s, when many race teams changed over
to the cabover (or forward-cockpit) design, Lauterbach stayed with the
old-style rear cockpit/forward engine configuration and
still managed to win quite a few races.
to appear in Madison
No., Boat, Owner, Driver, Hometown)
H-69 River Rat, Billy Cousins, Pendleton, Ky.
GP-200 Lauterbach Special, Dave Richardson, Wellesley
GP-317 Irishman, Bill Fisk, Williamson, N.Y.
H-202 Heavy Duty, Gary Vore, Centerville, Ohio
J-12 Chesapeake Lady, Gordon Jayne, Mentor, Ohio
GP-1001 Dinomytes, Roger LaPierre, Governeur, N.Y.
H-266 Miss Supersonic, John & Scott Kirschner,
Sparrow Point, Md.
F-128 Miss Jean, Dave Johnson, Madison, Ind.
F-77 Barracuda, Tim Settle, Brookeville, Ohio
F-222 Opechee, Hal LeDuc, Commerce, Mich.
The Lauterbach Special has special meaning
for fans of the Madison Regatta. In 1977, Madison played host
to its one and only race for the Grand Prix Class of inboard hydroplanes,
and Lauterbach Special was the winner with the late Terry Turner driving.
Some of the most prominent names in APBA racing have taken a turn behind
the wheel of this particular craft at one time or another. In addition
to Turner, these include Chip Hanauer, Tom DEath, and Larry Lauterbach,
the son of the builder.
F-222 Opechee is a 1965 Rich Hallett product, originally
owned and raced by Rob Kaufman in the old 266 (now the 6-Litre) Class. Retired
from competition in the early 1970s, it has since been restored by Hal
LeDuc of Commerce, Mich. The boat is named after a lake in New Hampshire
with special memories. Opechee is an indian name meaning Beautiful
Bird in Flight.
The oldest boat to participate in the Vintage event is the
F-77 Barracuda, currently owned by Tim Settles. This craft was built
shortly after the end of World War II by Fred Wickens, a prominent West
Coast boat builder. Very few of the hydroplanes of the 1940s remain
in existence today. Even fewer are still in running condition.
Barracuda is one of these. A successful 225 and 266 Cubic Inch Class
campaigner in its day, BARRACUDA was invited to step up
and run with the Unlimiteds a couple of times in the 1940s to help fill
out the field.
The Vintage & Historic Division of the American Power Boat Association was
formed in 1994 for the purpose of preserving the rich heritage
of APBA. Racing legend Tom DEath was the first division chairman. Old
racers came out of retirement to lend a hand and restoration of old
racing hulls became popular. With just a handful of members, this dedicated
group of determined individuals started with just an idea. Now, almost
20 years later, the Vintage & Historic Division is one of the
most rapidly growing categories in all of APBA and a tribute to the
sports classic past.
For more information about vintage race boats,
Fred Farley is a Milton, Ky., resident
and serves as the H1 Unlimited historian. Email him at email@example.com.
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