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Reprinted from Skid Fin Magazine, 2003, Volume 1 Number 2.
One of the most beautiful boats in the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum’s collection is the 1967 Miss Budweiser. Designed and build in 1962 by Les Staduacher, this boat originally saw action as the Notre Dame. Shirley Mendelson McDonald, daughter of Detroit industrialist and avid boat racer Herbert A. Mendelson, was the boat’s first owner. Shirley followed in her famous father’s footsteps campaigning a series of six Notre Dames between 1962 and 1973.
After being badly damaged by a fire during a December test run on Lake Washington with veteran driver Bill Muncey at the wheel, the boat was retired from competition in 1963.
Mendelson had the boat repaired as a pleasure boat expanding its cockpit to accommodate two people and adding a beautiful plank mahogany deck. She named the rebuilt boat Shu Shu. It appeared in two races in 1965 but never qualified.
In 1967 Bernie Little bought the Shu Shu and turned her into the fifth Miss Budweiser after the fourth Miss Budweiser was destroyed in a horrific accident that killed Budweiser’s popular driver Bill Brow.
Rookie driver Mike Thomas was given the job of piloting the new Miss Budweiser. He proved himself up to the task by winning the British Columbia Cup in Kelowna, B.C., and capturing a second place finish in the Sacramento Cup in Sacramento, Calif. A new Miss Budweiser was ordered from Ed Karelsen for 1968, so the fifth Miss Budweiser was retired again. In 1970 she was sold to Bob Murphy, who campaigned her as the Burien Lady and later as Smyth the Smoother Mover. She ran under several different names before being put out to pasture (quite literally) at the end of the 1980 season.
Eventually she was donated to the Museum, and then sold to Gerald Kingen, who paid to have her restored to her Miss Budweiser appearance. A talented crew of Museum volunteers let by Roger Newton and Larry Fuller worked none months to completely restore her. She was reborn on July 3, 1999 and played a major role in filming the movie Madison. In a nod to her origins, she appears in the movie as both the Notre Dame and the Miss Budweiser. This winter, the museum bought the boat back from Kingen, and she is now a full-fledged part of our collection.