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OK, going to let my stupidity hang out here folks.  Need some help here, on a question that's been nagging at me for a number of years.  I've looked high and low, but just can not, for the life of me, find a definitive answer to the question: What was considered, by Little, as the "home base" for his Budweiser boats?  We all know, he resided in Florida, and had his business interests there.  But, he also had connections in Seattle, where he had a shop for his boats.  And Madison was one of his favorite race sites, as was the Kennewick venue, where he had the "Bernie Little Tree".  Detroit also, from time to time, claimed ownership to being home base.  Was there ever a Yacht Club emblem displayed on the boats?  Really been wanting to find these questions out!  As I stated, I've looked in so many places, over the years, trying to finally see something in print, but just can't seem to find it.  Does any one out there have any concrete answers to this?  Please advise.

Many, Many Thanks,

Rob

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Hi Rob -- the Bud shop was at Boeing Field for years and years until the (I believe) the mid-1980's. Then they moved down off Interurban Blvd in Tukwila. The Hydroplanes, Inc. shop is still there (6440 S 144th St, Tukwila, WA 98168). I believe Hydroplanes, Inc. has always had a Seattle address throughout it's history, so I would assume that would be considered their "home base".

Hi Tony;

Thanks for the response.  Yes, I've been aware of the Tukwila location.  And, that's kind of been my presumption as well, that this meant that Seattle was "home base".  But technically, it still does not really say that for sure.  I guess what I'm trying to find out is:  Let's say, just for a moment, that Gold Cup rules still stated that the winner would host the next years event at a location of their choosing.  Would this mean that after each of Little's Gold Cup victories, he would have brought the race back to Lake Washington?  Or, would he have taken it to Tampa, Detroit, Madison, etc?  But, as I mentioned, I'm with you for now in that, with the shop location in the Seattle area, it sure would seem to me like it would have been considered home? 

Rob

Hi Rob,

I remember back in 1970 when Bernie Little announced that, from then on, his Miss Budweisers would be listed as "based in Seattle", not Tampa. His connections with other race sites like Madison and Detroit were always the local Budweiser distributors, to give the local fans a connection with his boats. In Evansville, Bernie bought the River House Hotel and, for a time in the eighties, it was known as Bernie Little's River House. So, I believe his boats were based in Tampa from 1963 to 1965. When he bought the Wahoo/Exide hull in 1966, his boats were based in Seattle from then on.


Robert B. Frank said:

Hi Tony;

Thanks for the response.  Yes, I've been aware of the Tukwila location.  And, that's kind of been my presumption as well, that this meant that Seattle was "home base".  But technically, it still does not really say that for sure.  I guess what I'm trying to find out is:  Let's say, just for a moment, that Gold Cup rules still stated that the winner would host the next years event at a location of their choosing.  Would this mean that after each of Little's Gold Cup victories, he would have brought the race back to Lake Washington?  Or, would he have taken it to Tampa, Detroit, Madison, etc?  But, as I mentioned, I'm with you for now in that, with the shop location in the Seattle area, it sure would seem to me like it would have been considered home? 

Rob

Rob, I think the reason you have had difficulty in determining the "home base" for the Budweiser boats is because that is the way they wanted it.

Although the Miss Budweiser team came on the scene in the 1960s, when the Seattle vs. Detroit rivalry was still alive, Bernie Little and his sponsor probably wanted to down play their "home base"; I think they wanted to be "America's" favorite boat, like the Atlanta Braves of MLB, rather than be thought of as a Seattle, Detroit, or Florida team. It worked too, because they emphasized the home town of the driver when they knew it would be important to the fans where they were racing.  I'm sure they added many Detroit fans to their ranks in the years when Tom D'Eath drove the boat.

I think it is one of the sport's problems today, especially in Detroit, where there is no longer a "home town favorite." There is obviously no easy solution to that problem, but one thing they could do is require each owner to have one name only each season to identify the boat. That would stop the confusion over which boat is which, and encourage brand loyalty for the boat's main sponsor.  The exposure and brand loyalty obviously helped keep Budweiser in the game for their many, many years.

Tim;

Thank you ever so much.  A lot of what you say here makes perfect sense.  Nagging at the back of my mind all this time was something that "I thought" I heard, but could never remember for sure.  Steve Garey's comment does reinforce this recollection to a degree as well.   I also agree with what you've said in the second part of your note, about local fans identifying with a particular hulls and/or drivers.  It's just a shame it has all gotten so expensive, that teams need additional sponsors, just to get in the water.  I suppose the 'old days' you speak of are gone forever.  But the sport would be better off, I think, if we could find a way to get back to those old time ways of sponsoring.  I, for one, would love to see the Gold Cup go back to the old format of the winner decides the next location.  But, the all-mighty dollar ..................

Thanks again, Rob
 
Tim Matyn said:

Rob, I think the reason you have had difficulty in determining the "home base" for the Budweiser boats is because that is the way they wanted it.

Although the Miss Budweiser team came on the scene in the 1960s, when the Seattle vs. Detroit rivalry was still alive, Bernie Little and his sponsor probably wanted to down play their "home base"; I think they wanted to be "America's" favorite boat, like the Atlanta Braves of MLB, rather than be thought of as a Seattle, Detroit, or Florida team. It worked too, because they emphasized the home town of the driver when they knew it would be important to the fans where they were racing.  I'm sure they added many Detroit fans to their ranks in the years when Tom D'Eath drove the boat.

I think it is one of the sport's problems today, especially in Detroit, where there is no longer a "home town favorite." There is obviously no easy solution to that problem, but one thing they could do is require each owner to have one name only each season to identify the boat. That would stop the confusion over which boat is which, and encourage brand loyalty for the boat's main sponsor.  The exposure and brand loyalty obviously helped keep Budweiser in the game for their many, many years.

Hi Steve;

Thanks for the comment.  I really felt it was something like this, but just wasn't sure.  If you'll notice Tim Matyn's thoughts on the subject are also quite good.  But, like you, I just felt that I had heard something once that I couldn't remember for sure.  And you seem to be very specific on hearing it.  So, the way I'm going to look at it is:   that the Bud started out in Tampa.  But after the 1969 season had concluded, they moved to Seattle.  However, due to Budweiser's attempts to appeal to 'all' folks around the country, Little downplayed any true home base, in favor of an America's Boat appeal.  So although Seattle was home base, it was not emphasized.  How's this play out?  Would you agree with me on that?  Or disagree? 

By the way, way back in the beginning of Unlimiteds Detroit, I actually signed up, and was a long distance member for many years while living in Anchorage, and Seattle. (if you go back and look up the old membership archives, I'll bet you'll find my name)  Got the old newsletters, etc. until letting my membership lapse after about 10 or 12 years.  I remember you back then, and Hank, and some of the others, from afar.  Though we've never met personally, over the years I've always felt like I do know all of you, in some ways.  We certainly share a common passion, that's for sure.

Respectively, Robert B. "Rob" Frank

Palmer, Alaska
 
Stephen Garey said:

Hi Rob,

I remember back in 1970 when Bernie Little announced that, from then on, his Miss Budweisers would be listed as "based in Seattle", not Tampa. His connections with other race sites like Madison and Detroit were always the local Budweiser distributors, to give the local fans a connection with his boats. In Evansville, Bernie bought the River House Hotel and, for a time in the eighties, it was known as Bernie Little's River House. So, I believe his boats were based in Tampa from 1963 to 1965. When he bought the Wahoo/Exide hull in 1966, his boats were based in Seattle from then on.


Robert B. Frank said:

Hi Tony;

Thanks for the response.  Yes, I've been aware of the Tukwila location.  And, that's kind of been my presumption as well, that this meant that Seattle was "home base".  But technically, it still does not really say that for sure.  I guess what I'm trying to find out is:  Let's say, just for a moment, that Gold Cup rules still stated that the winner would host the next years event at a location of their choosing.  Would this mean that after each of Little's Gold Cup victories, he would have brought the race back to Lake Washington?  Or, would he have taken it to Tampa, Detroit, Madison, etc?  But, as I mentioned, I'm with you for now in that, with the shop location in the Seattle area, it sure would seem to me like it would have been considered home? 

Rob

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