Hello fellow race fans, and thank you for taking the time to read this post. It’s a rather long one, but well worth the read.
For all of you that are new to HYDROPAGE.COM (and the sport itself), I am a regular participant on this mesage board forum. I’ve been kind of quiet posting lately (not intentional), but I’m back in a big way. I go by the username “Checkerboard Comet” and I chose that name because of the 2007 Miss Beacon Plumbing paint scheme. We all know it’s the nickname of the 68 Bardahl hull, I just adopted using it as well…..I liked the name. Those that know me personally know I’m a passionate and “no hold barred” kind of guy and I speak my mind on a great many things with this sport. The good…..the bad……and definitely the UGLY.
One thing that’s always bugged me is that when information becomes known or rumored, there’s always this “big secret” mentality. That if whatever news is released prematurely, it’s like the world will end because someone spilled the beans. I hold my tongue on a lot of news, but some things I just can’t refrain from talking about. Unlike most press releases where it’s a couple of sentences to relay the announcement of something, I’m going all out this time. It’s not everyday that someone get’s to say what I’m about to……
Like Clark Griswold from the National Lampoon movies………..I’m going to do it right, and BIG.
On January 26, 2013……….A deal was finalized for the purchase of the following:
I don't know any other way to say this, so I'm going to just come right out with it........................................I am now a co-owner of the 1979 Squire Shop hull!!!
No....No......No........not a mere R/C or model display one..............THE REAL THING!!!
I'm talking about the boat that Chip Hanauer won his first ever Unlimited Class race in, yes..........that boat. Granted, it’s been heavily modified since it was built......but believe you me, the plan is to have it restored back to its original configuration in the future. It needs a lot of work, but I knew that going in…….that’s what makes this an exciting project.
I'm sure all of you are wondering how this is going to be possible, well let me tell you............there is a detailed plan in place to do so. I'm sure the obvious question is "why", so my answer to that is "why not". Let me explain how this all came together and hopefully you will all understand my motivation and inspirations for doing do such an endeavor.
1) How did this crazy idea come about anyway?
Well, it's actually quite simple really. A little over a year ago, I was contacted by a good friend of mine (who also happens to be a fellow HYDROPAGE member on this board, this person goes by the username: HE WHO KNOWS) about the possibility of co-owning a vintage Unlimited Hydroplane. My first question to them was “Are you serious?”, quickly followed by "What hull is it?". I was told it was the 1979 Squire Shop hull, the sister ship to the 1979 Circus Circus. To be quite honest, I thought this hull was destroyed/scrapped years ago............so I was surprised to learn it was still around somewhere. I'm thinking.............."what's the catch" and "how much is this going to cost me""..........right? Well, once I learned that the pitch was that a couple of us would all go in as partners and buy it together..........I was sold immediately on the idea. I replied “Let’s do it then, when can we get started!”.
The core group at that time was made up mostly of fellow fans like myself, and a couple current/vintage team crew members (just a few average Joe’s, so to speak). The group itself was fairly small, and we would all split the purchasing costs equally. The only problem at the time was where we were going to store it until a restoration plan was put together. We waited a couple months trying to iron out a location, and we thought we had finally found one. We were about to make our offer and learned that the hull had just been sold………..the day before!!!! This hull had been on the market for years with no takers, what were the odds I’d be a day short?
We were crushed!!!
All the previous months’ excitement and anxiety was instantly deflated, we were totally devastated…….. to say the least. We all thought that this was our chance to do something special, and we “missed the boat”………literally. Talk about a major letdown................I personally felt like my heart got ripped out once I learned the news.
I kindly emailed the new owner (Jim D.) that if in the future, if he ever decided to part with this hull again..............to let me know first. And then, the waiting game began................for how long was anyone’s guess. It could be months, years, or never……….was a hard thing to accept.
2) Why this hull, is there anything special about it to me personally?
Well, the simplest answer I guess would be both a yes and a no.
I say no because I grew up a die-hard Atlas Van Lines fan, and I really didn’t start watching the sport until the early 80's. Chip Hanauer had already joined the Atlas team by then, and he quickly became my favorite driver.
I say yes because Chip also drove this particular Squire Shop hull as well previously, so for that reason alone I have to love this boat. The fact that Chip won his first Unlimited race in this hull, it makes it extra special in my opinion. But the honest to God l reason I decided to do this was for my loving wife Kristy, as she has a personal history with Chip and this Squire Shop hull.......................... I'll explain further below. Had it not been for her and her family’s history with the sport…….I’d never have been involved in hydroplanes like I am now.
3) What was it that inspired me to do this, what was the determination behind it?
I love this story, no matter how many times I hear it….. it never get’s old. I often imagine what this must have been like back when it actually happened; secretly wishing it had been me instead of her that day. It's so unreal, it had to be true. This just goes to show what a great guy Chip is, and how he appreciates and cherishes his fans. I don’t know if Chip offered what I’m about to tell you to anyone else, but this is an amazing…….yet simple story. I will try to explain what transpired as accurately as possible, but this all happened many years ago. I'll tell you all the way it has been told to me, directly from Kristy and her mother Carol directly.
It is in the spring of 1980 at Stan Sayers Pits in Seattle, my wife Kristy is 6 years old at the time. Chip is out testing the Squire Shop on Lake Washington, getting ready for the upcoming racing season. Kristy and her parents live only a couple blocks away, so once that V-12 Rolls-Royce Merlin get's fired up............they anxiously head on down towards the lake to see which boat it is.
Now you can imagine how loud and scary this must all be to a little girl back then, quite intimidating actually……this wasn’t a whispering turbine. Something about a V-12 shakes the ground underneath you, it’s power sends chills through your body when it roars to life.
Kristy and Carol arrive in time to see Chip and the Squire Shop on the water doing some test runs. At some point during the test sessions, Chip heads out towards the boat to take it out for another run. As he approaches the finger pier, Chip spots this shy little girl (standing beside her mother) curiously watching in awe and amazement. Chip then detours and walks straight over towards her, as if her innocence caught his attention. Chip then greets her and asks if she liked the boat, which Kristy replies a timid “yes”. After some more small talk, Chip does the unthinkable..................he asks her mother if it would be ok if Kristy would like to go for a ride in the boat?
Are you kidding me?
A ride in an unlimited hydroplane…… really?
............and Chip was completely serious, at least that's how those who witnessed it describe it.
Here's where the story breaks my heart………… this little girl was too afraid, and quietly said "no"…….. Kristy was just too frightened to do it. Chip then brings her over to the boat to check it out, to get a closer look at it. Chip tells her that he wouldn’t go very fast, but she would have to wear a helmet to ride along. He shows it and a life jacket to her and states that’s it’s way too big for her, but she would have to wear it anyway. Chip asks Kristy a couple more times trying to persuade her, but Kristy’s answer remains the same. Chip then smiles, says his goodbye’s and heads out for another test run. Kristy often tells me that she really wanted to do it at the time, but it was just too scary. Who could blame her though, right?
Again, remember people..........she was 6 years old when this occurred. I'm sure Chip would have just done a slow parade lap, or a loop through the infield or something………but what an amazing opportunity it was. Kristy regrets it to this day, and every Seafair that comes and goes.............this story is told and retold all over again. She feels very honored and proud to have been asked that day, it’s just unfortunate that she couldn’t accept Chip’s offer. Kristy still has the pictures taken of her that day with the Squire shop in the background as Chip is coasting back to the dock. It’s unclear if this was taken before or after Chip’s offer, but it was a special moment captured for all time.
Where is that time machine Delorean when you need it, right?
4) Opportunity knocks once again; this time……..I would exhaust every effort to acquire it.
A few weeks ago, I learned that Jim might be willing to part with this boat (unofficially). With this new news, I quickly contacted him to see if in fact what I heard was true. To my surprise, it actually was and I immediately began negotiations on possibly buying it from him. After a couple weeks of discussing our options, the offer was made and the deal was on the table……so to speak. Those few days waiting for his answer back were brutal, I was so anxious waiting to hear if he would accept it or not.
5) I’ve got the boat and a place to put it………..now what?
This is where many people have failed on various restoration plans in the past. It’s easy to have great ideas and passion…………but that only goes so far for so long. To do something like this, you need a plan and commitments. That being said, the one thing you need more than anything else is money, and a lot of it. For our plan to work, we only had 2 of the 3 covered………..but we struggled with the money aspect.
Who doesn’t, right?
Me and the rest of the ownership group are basic 9-5 working people, doing the daily grind like most of you out there. I’m not rich, nor do I have that rich uncle somewhere who’ll buy me whatever I want. None of us do, it’s one of those urban legends I think. That being said, a lot of people might call me crazy to do something like this, that I’m throwing my money away?
I ask you all this, will you be able to say that once your standing in front of this restored hull when it’s re-christened on a spring day in Seattle a few years from now? Crazy…….no. Passionate…….yes.
Back to the plan……..
I can’t give away too many details on that at this time; however……I can say that a deal has been struck with the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum (Kent, Washington). The only way I could get this restoration plan to work was by their involvement, luckily……….we were able to reach an agreement that is to both of our benefits. Dave Williams (museum director) was a big part of this, we all were. Not so much in the process for me buying the hull, but what to do with it after I got it…….if I got it.
I can tell you that this hull will be treated with the same respect as their past restorations, hulls like the 1980 Miss Budweiser and 1982 Atlas Van Lines. Every attention to detail will be made to make it appear as authentic as the day it was built, as we were only interested in a 100% authentic restoration………which meant we only wanted a V-12 Roll-Royce Merlin engine. That will be the biggest challenge, but it can be done………going take a lot of money and time to find it though.
6) The deal that almost wasn’t……………
Negotiations for a hydroplane purchase are no different than that of any other type of vehicle. The only real difference is that you truly are buying something you can’t just buy anywhere, and each one is literally a “one of a kind”. To some, a hydroplane is just a tool….to others, it’s almost like a part of them………memories, experiences, etc. Many people feel genuine bonds to these incredible machines, so it can be difficult to part with them.
This Squire Shop hull was no different, it means something to people……..of all ages. Not just to me, but to hydroplane race fans everywhere who’ve ever stood in front of one and truly appreciated the shear size and power of these incredible machines. A lot of boats over the years have sat exposed to the elements, only to succumb to a long and slow death. This hull was also at risk to suffer the same fate (prior to Jim acquiring it), having also been neglected for many years to simply rot away to history.
In terms of the sale itself, it was a rather stressful time for everyone involved. We all experienced nearly every human emotion in the book at some point during the negotiations. There were highs, there were lows……..but in the end, a deal was made. Jim was very reluctant to sell it, but here’s how it all came together.
Jim had the Squire Shop, we wanted it…….simple as that. Jim was willing to sell the boat, but he really wanted a replacement to fill the void. This is where Dave Williams comes back into the picture. The night before the formal meeting to try and acquire the boat, I sent Dave a email asking if there were any other hulls available in the same price range that came with a trailer and hardware. To my surprise, such a hull did exist………and it was still in Washington State. Dave emailed me pictures of this hull, and it was an option to be discussed in the negotiations.
The hull in question was the 1963 Tahoe Miss, complete with most structural hardware and original trailer. The problem was that it was rough…….really rough. Nearly all the wood was rotted away, the decks had been removed LONG ago, but the basic aluminum structure was in decent shape, and it still had the cowlings and original trailer.
It was brought up early on in the meeting, and Jim was interested enough to take a look at it. Dave informed Jim that he better move fast, as it was rumored to be scrapped soon. Jim called the current owner (Bruce) and they worked out a meeting for that night………right away actually.
Everything moved lightning fast once that phone call was made, as we all scrambled out of there in a hurry to go see it person……..of course it would be pitch black when we got there.
We all arrived together and Jim inspected the Tahoe Miss……..or what was left of it, and the trailer. Jim decided that he’d seen enough that he was interested in it………I was so excited, thinking inside that maybe I do have a chance at the Squire Shop after all. Jim made an offer for the Tahoe Miss, Bruce immediately countered with one of his own………..and with that, Jim accepted it!!!
Jim then turned to me and said we have a deal, the Squire Shop is yours!!!!!!!
We worked out the details at a Nearby Safeway, and each of us left happy………I was bursting inside, trust me.
Jim had always wanted a shovelnose hull anyway, so he ended up getting what he wanted all along. My group finally got it’s hands on the Squire Shop……….and Bruce, well…………he seemed ready to let the Tahoe Miss go.
The good news is neither hull is destined for scrap, as both are planned to be restored. I’m unsure what Jim’s plans are for the Tahoe Miss, but he’s tossing around the idea of using alternative power plants in it. As for the Squire Shop hull, it will be restored back to her original configuration…….much to the relief of the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum folks.
7) The restoration dream……….the return of the Squire Shop!
So I’m sure all of you want to know, what comes next? How is the Squire Shop going to get restored? Well, it’s a delicate process…how many times have you heard that before. It’s a “pecking order” kind of thing. The museum currently is restoring Bill Muncey’s 1977 Atlas Van Lines (Blue Blaster) and the 1958 Miss Bardahl. They also have rework to do on the Hurricane IV and Miss Burien Hulls. Then you’ve got the Circus Circus hull (sister hull to our Squire Shop), which is still slated to become the Squire Shop………until ours is restored of course, then the Circus hull will be repainted back to it’s original Circus Circus paint scheme. So I’m sure you can all figure out the timeline from here, it’s going to be awhile………..but the point is this, it’s coming!
Like I said earlier, I can’t post the technical details of the restoration agreement……….but the Squire Shop is very good hands.
The only way it could possibly be moved up on the list is through donations, which should be made to the museum itself. Just make a note that it’s for the 1979 Squire Shop effort in the notes. I have been quiet on letting this news out prematurely, but it’s “officially” out now for all of you to enjoy
Another classic has been saved, now it’s time to have it reborn anew..
8) Future plans and goals.
I have started to build a website devoted to the 1979 Squire Shop acquisition and restoration effort, and you can find it here:
I will be posting facts and historical records for this hull, as well as restoration news/updates and pictures. Stay tuned……it’s going to be a lot of fun!!! It’s in it’s VERY EARLY stages right now, but we wanted to get it out there.
We just want to thank Jim for selling us the boat, Doug for transporting it, and to Dave (Museum Director) for all their help it making this all come together. We wanted wait on making this announcement until we took possession of the Squire Shop, which we did last night. Our first step is to build a roofed structure to protect the hull from further damage from the Washington elements. Second, we need to access the hull itself and determine where to go from there.
If anyone out there knows where to find any of the original 1979 Squire Shop (or 1979 Circus Circus) parts/equipment……let us know. We want to restore it to as close to original as we can.
PS: I’m sure I’ll get flooded with a ton of questions, so let me have them……
If you have any suggestions for the website, or comments about this story……I’d love to read your feedback. You can send me a personal message if you wish, just find my name in the member directory and fire away.
Thank you for your time………
(March 3, 2013)
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