Seafair this year was one of the most enjoyable experiences I'd ever had. Say what you want about the races themselves, it's what happened outside of racing that I truly had the most fun with. Nothing will top my experience with Chip a few years ago at my house (KIRO TV special), but this one was close…………..top 3 for sure.
I've had a lot of really good Seafair's, but few I would consider great..........or almost perfect. This year falls into the really great category, and I'll explain why.
The fact that we were able to bring the 79’ Squire Shop out as a display was special to us, to myself and the rest of the ownership group. Those who have read the reasons why we (Kristy and I) purchased this hull already know about my wife's personal attachment for doing so. We acquired this hull this past spring and have only had it a couple months now. It was decided early on that we as a group wanted to bring it out for Seafair this year...........each for our own reasons.
What most people didn't know was that Kristy had yet to see the hull in person prior to Seafair (since we bought it)......took a lot of patience and self discipline on her part. She wanted the dramatic entrance and to see it being transported down the street upon arrival..........which was cool. Kristy's first impression wanted to be in seeing the hull all cleaned up and all its parts (canopy, stabilizers, cowlings, etc.) attached and looking the best that it could be. We did the best we could in that aspect and busted our asses all day getting her ready to bring down from Monroe (Washington). Considering the hulls age and condition, she cleaned up pretty well I think. Seeing our names on the boat just made it all seem real…………kind of “official” you know?
We planned on arriving in Seattle during the late afternoon timeframe............but you know how it goes sometimes. It turns out that we didn't arrive until nearly midnight............but we made it. It was a special moment, as it was the first time all 5 of us owners were together with the hull since we purchased it. Once we unhooked the truck from the trailer and everything was set in place...............I think each of us took a deep breath and realized that we had done it. This was the first step in a long journey that awaited us............it would only get better from here on out. We were just a little concerned on what the public's reaction would be...........we were after all, committed now.
None of us had any experience in what to expect from those who would stop by and see the hull in person. We knew she was in rough shape (having spent 20+ years out exposed in the harsh Washington State elements), but we wanted to do this regardless.
Prior to Seafair, all we ever heard was how bad of shape the hull was, how it was literally falling apart at the seams, a waste of money, not good for anything anymore.............stuff like that. But then we also asked these same people...............when was the last time you actually saw her in person?
The answers were all basically the same.............
It appeared as if most everyone had "heard from someone else" about how bad the hull was and took THAT as truth and fact.
That was MY main motivation for wanting to bring the boat out, I wanted people to form their OWN opinions on it………not just off the word of someone else. Their opinion may be the same as before, but at least it would be their own. But what I heard back from most was it really wasn’t in as bad as condition as they thought it would be………….for being outside for 20+ years, she actually still looked pretty good overall.
To get the most exposure, we decided we needed to promote the display as best as possible. We made buttons, pins, and banners to bring awareness to the project. Without the banners, how many of you would have known it was the former Squire Shop hull? The casual fan would have had no idea at all, as it clearly looks nothing like its original configuration. The banners not only stated what it was at one time, but we also showed it's visual history over the years.........just so people could follow its racing history. It worked, and we got flooded with inquiries about it in the pits. There was one question that we kept getting asked a lot about the project though, where were we going to get an engine for it?
Good question.......no doubt; this project will have its challenges.
We even met a lot of people who tried to pry out as much information about the project as they could. Some questions we could answer, some we could not. But nobody left unsatisfied, we answered what we could and felt comfortable with.
I was fortunate to have some discussions with some noteworthy people as well, here’s my experience with them:
Steve David: Steve had been promising for years to stop by and pay me a visit, and this year he finally did it. I remember answering the doorbell and there he was.........Steve, at my front door?
How cool was that!
We had some small talk and quickly had a photo taken of us with the Squire hull. The fact that Steve went out of his way and stopped by to say hello was awesome..........just had to say hi to the Comet. Steve's an awesome guy, was really cool that he did that. What was that again about the thumbs, eh' Steve?
Jim Lucero Now I didn't actually see Jim at the boat.........but I was made aware that he stopped by and looked it over. To what extent, I don't know...........but he did and that's surprising. I guess something about it just screamed..........hey you……..boat guy……check me out.
The Hopp family Jerry, Greg, Peyton, and Paxton all stopped by as well. Peyton and Paxton were there to race model boats with the gang......both did pretty well actually. Greg stopped in briefly, while Jerry hung out for a little while. Jerry even raced a heat with us.....and he won! I said "hey, who brought in a ringer?".....which got a good laugh from everyone? We all took a picture together in front of Jerry's old boat before they left..........priceless.
Dave Holley Some of you may have seen my poor attempt at the "Tea Four" gag, which was almost immediately abandoned. I did however give the mockup to Dave in the pits........just for laughs. Dave loved it.........and plans to "take it on the road around the globe".........doing the whole "gnome" thing. That will be interesting to see........
Sam Cole, Doug Ford, the Noonan brothers. In recent years, Sam and the gang have stopped by to participate in our model races during Seafair weekend. They usually race each other and provide prizes to the winners of our event participants. These guys are a fun group to watch! One thing is for sure, whether you race the real boats or model ones.......the competition factor is always the same.........boys will be boys. For the record........Sam raced the Peters and May........did a good job too. Was a lot of fun!!!
Scott and Shannon Raney These two are a good group to be around; they always have fun while working. Scott can be all business one second, and your best friend the next.......and this is with anybody. Shannon is very approachable and always has something to say, I think they both just love doing what they do. Very hard for anyone to root against these guys...........perhaps their racing gremlins are behind them.
Larry Oberto, Cindy Shirley, and Dan Walters Larry dropped by to get a quick picture with the boat, was just too cool to pass up. He simply said he wished this was an old Oberto hull, would have wanted to restore himself I think. Cindy is nice as always. Was a rumor going around that our current engine cowling may have come from the late 80's Madison team at one time........she said she would check into it? I have since learned there is a picture of ours and the Madison's side by side.........but I've yet to see it myself.
Dan Walters is a real down to earth guy, spent some good quality time with him and the boat. This is the first person I've met that was actually involved with this boat as the Squire Shop back in the day. Dave looked the boat over really good and just said..........."We’ve got our work cut out for us". 'He even told me a story about where to find the original cowling............which I intend to find. Problem is, I need J. Michael Kelly's help to do so.............yep, and he knows where it is apparently. If anyone here knows how to contact him, personal message me and I'll get in touch with him.
Dan's got some scrapbooks from the Squire days he'd be willing to make copies of for the project, as well as other Squire related items of interest. Very generous of him I must say, glad he could help us out. Maybe he'll turn a wrench or two once we start the restoration process down the road.
Street Vendors Some of these guys are hard core salesmen…………..some are very nice people. Some mark up the crap out of collectibles, some just want to make people happy. There are two guys I want to point out, as they helped me out all weekend long. Both knew I wanted Squire Shop stuff and both hooked me up……..one even knew I would be coming. I got some more patches, and hit the jackpot. I got original color slides (more on the way) of the original hull in pristine condition. I’ll get them developed into photos soon, can’t wait. Will be doing more business in the future I’m sure.
Bob Senior Bob is always willing to help where he can with us, got a soft spot for us I think. He’ll be helping us in peddling the remaining buttons and pins in the near future, glad he offered to help us out.
Autograph Line (current H1 drivers) I never intended to go through the H1 drivers autograph line, but my wife and nephew were in tow and they wanted to do it. Who am I kidding, I wanted to go as well………
It was there that I knew our marketing campaign in recent months must have worked………EVERY driver there knew who we were, mostly Kristy. I knew what we had done was real at that moment, kind of a wake up call to the madness we were jumping into. A few of them can’t wait to get involved in this project personally, and the others were supportive of it 100%. Nothing but good words from these guys was a shock to get recognized a little.
Mostly as Gary, some as the Comet of course. One word……..wow.
I’ll never forget waking that first morning and pulling back the curtains to see our boat staring back at me through the window. That was a special feeling……………cool.
Thanks to everyone who came out to see the boat, to wish us well in our project, and to offer a lending hand down the road. It was fun to do and we’d do it again……you guys are the best.