We're racing through history!
Reprinted from Skid Fin Magazine, 2009, Volume 1 Number 6.
Unlimited racing in the 1940s and early 1950s was dominated by wealthy sportsmen who raced for fun. Boats with names like Tempo, My Sweetie and Slo-mo-shun won important races like the Gold Cup. By the mid 1950s commercial sponsors becoming, and names like Miss Pepsi, Miss Thriftway, and Miss Bardahl began to enter the winners circle. By 1960 almost all of the sportsmen were gone and just about every team had some type of commercial sponsor.
One of the last successful sportsman boats was Bill Boeing's Miss Wahoo. The Wahoo was a fan favorite. From the movie start good looks of driver Mira Slovak to the simple, but elegant all wood finish on the hull, everything about the boat attracted attention.
The Wahoo was built in 1956 by Les Staduacher from plans drawn by Ted Jones. The Miss Wahoo was one of four identical boats. The 1955 Miss Thriftway, the 1956 Shanty-I, the Miss Spokane and Miss Wahoo were all built from the same plans.
The Miss Wahoo only entered two races in 1956, but went up to eight races in 1957, wining the Mapes Mile High Gold Cup on Lake Tahoe and taking third place in National High Points.
The team sat out the 1958 season, and ran a limited schedule in 1959 entering only four races, but winning two of them! Slovak and the Wahoo claimed victory in the Presidents Cup and the Mapes Trophy.
Normally the winner of the President's Cup gets to receive the trophy from the President, but because Mira Slovak had defected from Soviet controlled Czechoslovakia, the Secret Service tried to block Slovak from meeting with Eisenhower. Washington State Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson had to intervene on Slovak's behalf so that the trophy presentation could take place!
Slovak and the Wahoo went to three races in 1960, taking 5th in the season opening Apple Cup in Chelan, WA, and then rolling over during the Seafair Trophy Race in Seattle. The damaged boat was repaired and make it to the 1960 Gold Cup, qualifying second fastest, but a few ticks of the clock behind the Miss US 1. The race was declared a "no contest" due to high winds. Bill Boeing retired the Wahoo at the end of the 1960 season, and the boat didn't see action again until it was sold to Milo and Glenn Stoen in 1963 to replace the first Exide that was destroyed in Coeur d'Alene.
Now almost eight years old and called Miss Exide, the boat was as fast as ever! With Bill Brow at the wheel the former Wahoo won two of the first three races they entered, and later became the first boat to qualify for the Gold Cup at over 120 mph!
After three years as the Miss Exide, the hull was sold to Bernie Little and became the third Miss Budweiser. The boat was destroyed in a collision with the Notre Dame on "Black Sunday" in Washington DC in 1966.
When Bill Boeing Jr. first saw the beautiful 1955 Miss Thriftway replica, he expressed regret that his Miss Wahoo no longer existed. Museum Board member Dave Knowlen hatched a plan. He assembled a group of local business men that including Bill Boeing, Jr., Scott Carson, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Bruce McCaw and Joe Clark to fund a full scale replica of the Miss Wahoo.
Working from a copy of the original plans, Ron Jones, Sr. drew up a set of full scale plans for the Miss Wahoo and a volunteer Museum crew, let by Larry Fuller and Oh Boy! Oberto crew chief Mike Hanson began construction in late September 2008.
Work continued at break neck pace and the new boat was launched Saturday Morning August 1st at the Chevrolet Cup at Seafair. Museum Director David Williams drove the U-77 Miss Wahoo side-by-side with the Chip Hanauer and the U-787 Boeing's Salute to Seafair.