The hydroplane community isn’t all that much different than any other sport out there, let's take professional baseball for example.
You always have those hardcore fans that can tell you how many strikeouts a certain pitcher got in a specific game………..little details most of us don’t pay much attention to in the bigger picture. In hydroplane racing, some can tell you how many races a specific hydroplane won in its career, and who the driver was at the time.
My point is, devoted fans gather as much knowledge as possible about their sport as they can, while most simply look to the “future” instead of appreciating the “past”.
It’s those small details that often get overlooked and/or lost to history, and in regards to our restoration project…………it’s no different.
Sure, most fans can find out how many victories a specific driver earned over their career.............but how many people would know who the actual crew members were of any specific hull and year?
When it comes to the 1979 "Squire Shop" restoration, those are the type of details we are after…………the little things.
In the content below, you will learn the ultimate fate (if known) of the major external components between both 1979 Norberg hulls, the Circus Circus and The Squire Shop.
So here we go......enjoy!
1979 "The Squire Shop" original trailer
The original 1979 "The Squire Shop" trailer is currently in the hands of Alex Bogert and Jerry Schoenith of the UR-5 racing team, as our attempts to buy it came up short prior to them buying it from the Rutkauskas brothers. It was previously used on Jerry's "Miss Renault" team in the mid 80's, and the Rutt brothers "Edge Gel" team in the early 90's.
You never know what will happen down the road, perhaps someday we can bring this trailer back home to the Squire Shop.....where it belongs.
1979 "Circus Circus" original trailer
The 1979 "Circus Circus" trailer was used on numerous boats throughout it's career (Circus Circus, Squire Shop, Oh Boy! Oberto, Miss T-Plus, Miss Freei, and a few others), finally ending up underneath the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum's restored 1982 "Atlas Van Lines". It has been heavily modified over the years (mostly with the addition of steps and to the rear of the trailer), so it was challenging to find enough key features to prove it's authenticity.
"cathedral" stabilizer wing set #1 / 1979 version "Circus Circus"
This is the set of "skins/fairings" the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum got from Dave Bartush with the sale of the Circus hull to Bob Steil. Through our extensive research, this was the set that Jerry Hopp used on his 1986 "Horizon Air" version of the Squire Shop hull. Jerry's crew removed the fiberglass skins and used brand new aluminum ones instead. But, they kept the inner framework and somehow Dave Bartush eventually ended up with this set many years later. The museum has one of those aluminum Hopp skins from 1986, while Greg Hopp still has the other one.
Brad Haskin came across the caps by chance and saved them from being scrapped years ago, which the Museum now has as well. The original "cathedral" fiberglass wing itself we believe was scrapped, except for the internal hardware. We believe that parts of the original hardware was used in the Hopp's new "flat" wing, at least portions of it was anyway. We know this because the Hopp's horizontal wing was made in two pieces too, clearly spliced in the middle (see picture of Paddock Pools version from 1987 and on).
"cathedral" stabilizer wing set #2 / 1980 version "Circus Circus"
In the pictures below, you will see the “cathedral” wings that were later used on the 1984 “Island Security Systems” hull (driven by Mitch Evans) and Wil Muncey's Z-9 hull .
Previously, this wing set was used on the 1981 "Spirit of the Air Force" version and the 1980 "Circus Circus" before that. This is the set we will use on the Squire Shop restoration. There were numerous separate coats of primer/paint to remove from this set, so it was repainted many times in its career.
When the team sold the wings to Wil Muncey, he used them on his “Z” class hydroplane, The Z-9 Miss Canada II. You can see the "cathedral" wing in the photo below before it was repainted.
The wings were then used on the hull, and he campaigned the boat in the now defunct "Z" boat class. We are 100% sure that this is the correct wing, because we can find traces of exposed yellow paint in its current condition.
At some point down the road, Dave Bartush came into possession of the "cathedral wing" and matching uprights. This "cathedral" wing was then sold to Bob Steil, who in turn donated it and the 1979 "Circus Circus" hull to the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum. Mr. Bartush also sold the before mentioned 1979 "Circus Circus" vertical stabilizer skins (used in in 1979 only) as well as part of the deal. The remaining Z-9 original 1979 Circus circus inner upright frames would be purchased from Mr. Bartush later on to complete the set.
From our research, it is possible that there was only one "cathedral" horizontal wing ever made for the Circus Circus hull.
"cathedral" stabilizer wing set #1 / 1979 version "Squire Shop"
The most important set to us is The Squire Shop"cathedral" wing set, but we don't know what their ultimate fate was.
This is the set that eventually ended up on the former U-55 "Lincoln Thrift" hull that Bob Steil used as the teams display hull from 1984-1986. This hull was sold to Jim McBride, and then to Greg O'Farrell who continued using it as a display boat for his company "Lakeridge Paving".
Note: You can see the bolt pattern on the "spine" of the horizontal wing, which was exclusive to "The Squire Shop" set only. this set also had an extra "U" bracket installed to add strength the wing adjustment (turnbuckles).
The "cathedral" wings were never seen again in use other than as shown on the picture below, as the hull had modern looking stabilizers and turbine cowlings/canopy cockpit installed soon after. In a phone conversation I had with Jim Mcbride, Jim stated that the "cathedral" wings did not come with the boat when he purchased it from Mr. Steil..................so nobody knows what happened to them.
Since no record of the wings ever being seen again after the sale to Mr. McBride, it is possible they could still be in his possession........he just may not recall having them. efforts are underway to figure this all out one way or the other.
1979 "The Squire Shop" engine cowling
The original Engine cowling was lost when it blew off the boat during heat 2B of the Seafair race in 1979. it would be recovered many years later by The Squire Shop restoration crew in 2013.
1980 "The Squire Shop"engine cowling
After "The Squire Shop" blew its engine cowling off the boat at Seafair in 1979 and it was lost in Lake Washington, the team decided to replace it the following season with another one................but with a couple minor changes. This cowling would find its way onto the teams display boat from 1984-1986, and then it returned one final time on the Miss Tubs in 1993.
At the Columbia Cup in 1993, Jack Barrie was driving the U-4 "Miss Tubs" and lost the engine cowling when it blew off and sank into the Columbia river............never to be seen again.
1979 "Circus Circus" original engine cowling
Ever wondered what happened to the original 1979 "Circus Circus" engine cowling?
Here's a story from our own restoration team member Brad Haskin, who has first hand experience on its ultimate fate. Here it is in its full "unedited" version as told by Brad himself.
"The Circus cowling sighting was made at what is now known as the Mojave Air & Space Port at Mojave, CA.
Al Letcher was a pilot and vintage aircraft restorer based at the Mojave airport, and he operated several aircraft over the years, including a P-51 Mustang and a rare British Gloster Meteor jet. Al purchased the 3-point Circus Circus during the 1980-81 off season and intended to campaign the boat as the U-77 Spirit of the Air Force, running the team out of his hangar at Mojave.
It appeared at one race (1981 Evansville) and Did Not Start. In 1990, I was driving through Southern California on my way to Florida and decided to take a day to ‘airport slum’ at Mojave (which had been a site used for the California National Air Races as well as a desert storage facility for obsolete airliners). Mojave had been built as a Marine Corps base in WWII, and as such still had all the old hangars, buildings, and infrastructure in place.
Out back of an old pump house, about two blocks back from the flight line the 1979 ‘spine’ cowling from the Miss Circus Circus was sitting gathering dust. It had been nearly 10 years since Letcher had sold all of his equipment to Bob Steil, so it was obvious the cowling was just put out to pasture.
I wish I could have strapped it on top of my van, but I would have had nowhere to put it when I got to my destination. By the time I made it back to the Mojave airport again it was nearly twenty years later. I tried to figure out where the pump house had been, but in the time since the face of the airport had changed dramatically and I couldn’t find its location.
Unfortunately the cowling’s fate was most likely hauled off in the back of a garbage truck to a landfill."
1979 "Squire Shop" original drivers cowling (version #1)
The original drivers cowling didn't last long, as it was heavily damaged from a fire in 1980 at Madison, Indiana. The cowlings remains were brought back to the teams shop in Seattle and a new cowling was made soon after. Call it good fortune if you may, but the original cowling made its way into private hands at some point and was still in existence up until the late 80's. It was last known in the possession of Leslie "Budd" Green out in Tacoma, Washington on a roof or in a garage. It was also mentioned that it may have been "lost" in the back of an old fish truck that was sold............and they simply forgot the cowling was stored in the back. However, all attempts to locate this drivers cowling have failed and it's current fate remains unsolved. Possible last known whereabouts are in the Burien and White Center neighborhoods of Seattle, Washington.
1979 "Squire Shop" drivers cowling (version #2)
After the original drivers cowling was heavily burned (Madison, Indiana 1980), this was its replacement. It too was lost to fire in a fire (Evansville, Indiana 1981). Hydroplane fans Kurt Karch and Brian Mans were gifted the remains and they salvaged what they could as souvenirs and scrapped the rest. Two such pieces remain from that cowling, the nose and one of the sides. The plans are to incorporate both pieces into the new cowling for the restoration.
1979 "Squire Shop" drivers cowling (version #3)
The 3rd cowling was changed a little bit from the original design, though based on the initial mold. This cowling was narrowed and had extra fiberglass added to raise the sides to eliminate the overall size of the Plexiglas windshield. This cowling was destroyed upon impact on the crash while testing on Lake Washington in 1981. The only piece of it that remains is pictured above in the group shot.
1979 "Squire Shop" drivers cowling (version #4)
The 4th and final cowling was used on the teams display hull (which was originally built as the u-55 Lincoln Thrift). It was a virtual clone of the original design in 1979, except it too had extra Fiberglass added to the sides. It is currently in the hands of a private owner, and the team is working on adding it to the restoration project. The back half still exists too (headrest, etc.), it's just not shown in the pictures.
1979 "Circus Circus" original drivers cowling
The Circus Circus drivers cowling is the one we obtained directly from Dave Bartush ourselves (Detroit, Michigan) and is the one the restoration crew had to rebuild back to its original dimensions in order to make a mold for "The Squire Shop". This cowling was used on the Circus Circus, Spirit of the Air Force, and finally on The Squire Shop for the final race in Mexico (1981). During early 1982, the crew decided to make a new cowling and use the Circus one as the plug. To do so, it was cut into 4 separate pieces to make it narrower and set at a different deck angle. The windshield section was removed and wood was added to fill in the voids. A long story short, it took Brad Haskin's skill and expertise to bring it back to its once former glory.
1979 "The Squire Shop" hull team hauler: GMC Astro 95
The team used (from what we can tell) 3 heavy haulers in its racing career, but only one of them was used for the 1979 hull. This hauler was used until around the 1985 timeframe, where it was sold off. According to Scott Raney, this specific truck was last owned by Gary Manley (still painted in Squire Shop livery) and seen up on Ray Forsman's property (for "Dutchman" owner and driver) in the 90's sometime. It has since left Ray's and has not been seen or heard of since.....possibly ending up in the Nevada area.