Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum

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1959 U-60 Miss Thriftway

Reprinted from Skid Fin Magazine, 2003, Volume 1 Number 2.

In every element of human endeavor there is one accomplishment that stands above all the rest as "the" definitive classic. If you talk to a group of airplane buffs, they may each have a favorite plane, but they would all agree that the North American P-51-D Mustang was "the plane." If you talk to a group of car lovers, they will say that the 427 Shelby Cobra was "the car." When you talk to a group of boat racers, they will agree that the third Miss Thriftway was "the boat." She is the standard by which every other open-cockpit, round-bow boat is measured.

Ted Jones designed and built the third Miss Thriftway in 1959. The Miss Thriftway was a gorgeous boat with smooth, flawless lines and a distinctive streamlined cowling and tailfin. She was painted cream with persimmon strips. A loud, powerful and unflinchingly reliable Rolls-Royce Merlin engine powered her. Not only was she the most beautiful boat of her era, she was more successful than most boats ever built.

She came within a few seconds of winning her first Gold Cup in 1959. The 1960 Gold Cup was canceled, but she won four races, the National Championship, and set the World Water Speed Record. In 1961, running under the name Century 21 to promote the Seattle’s World Fair, she won both the Gold Cup and the National Championship. In 1962, still wearing the Century 21 banner, she won an unbelievable five out of six races, including the Gold Cup. She also ran away with the National Championship that year. Along the way she started and finished 55 consecutive heats!

The Miss Thriftway was surrounded by one of the most talented crews to ever work on a race boat. Lead by owner Willard Rhodes, designer/builder Ted Jones and crew chief Jack Ramsey, the Thriftway crew out-worked, out-thought and out-performed every other team on the circuit.

Without a doubt, the single most important person in the whole Thriftway organization was driver Bill Muncey. Muncey was an articulate spokesman, a savvy marketing man and a driver with quick reflexes and nerves of steel. He is still the winningest driver in the history of the sport. Muncey studied marketing in college, and he put every ounce of his considerable skill and knowledge to work promoting the Miss Thriftway and the chain of grocery stores that she represented. The Miss Thriftway was retired in 1963, but Muncey went on to race for almost 20 more years.

The Miss Thriftway sat outside for a long time and was almost lost to the elements before the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum restored her in 1993. Barbara Carper bought the Thriftway in 1994 and has displayed it at boat shows and exhibitions throughout the country.

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