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Notre Dame & Miss Exide

By Fred Farley – Unlimited Hydroplane Historian

A number of recent threads have mentioned the 1963 MISS EXIDE and the 1967 NOTRE DAME.

Ted Jones, who designed MISS EXIDE, told me that he disavowed the project when he heard that builder Ed Karelsen was going to put the boat together with a staplegun.

(Karelsen later vindicated himself with his creations of the 1967 MISS BARDAHL, the 1968 MISS BUDWEISER, and the 1969 NOTRE DAME, which were all excellent boats.)

The 1967 NOTRE DAME was one of the worst riding Unlimiteds that I've ever seen. Even builder Les Staudacher was baffled by the poor handling characteristics. Nevertheless, I don't blame Jack Regas for the boat's crash at Seattle.

Here's how it looked to me--and to the reporter from YACHTING MAGAZINE--from the press section of the Official Barge on Lake Washington.

As the seconds ticked away before the start of Heat 1-A, Bob Gilliam was sitting dead in the water on the start/finish line, trying to get HILTON HY-PER-LUBE started. Moments before the one-minute gun, Gilliam was finally able to get going. He left a side-ways trough as he cut across the infield in an effort to catch up with the other boats.

A minute later, the field thundered across the starting line. NOTRE DAME fell into the trough left by HILTON HY-PER-LUBE, hydrauliced the sponson, and ricocheted into the path of Chuck Hickling and the HARRAH'S CLUB. The two boats crashed and ended up on the bottom of the lake. NOTRE DAME was destroyed; HARRAH'S CLUB was through for the season.

I believe that Regas did not cause this accident. Gilliam did! The crash was a virtual replay of the Warner Gardner/Bill Cantrell incident at Madison, Indiana, in 1965. (Gardner, too, made a belated start with MISS LAPEER and left a side-ways trough. MISS SMIRNOFF encountered the trough and pitched Cantrell into the water.)

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