Why Vintage

I have always loved hydroplanes as far back as I can remember. Growing up in North Seattle during the ’60s made it very easy to fall in love with the sport. It was no surprise to my family when I decided to follow my heart and enter the boat racing world. Since that November day in 1984 when I joined my first boat race team, I’ve had the pleasure of driving a 280 class open cockpit inboard and crewing for several teams ranging from the tiny outboards up to the H1 Unlimiteds, all of them just as competitive and exciting as the next. But my life would forever change when I entered the 2005 Bob Snelling Vintage Memorial Regatta in Madison, Indiana as a rookie vintage driver in the very boat I co-drove with my older brother Doug Woodward during the mid to late ’80s. That experience was enough for me to catch the proverbial vintage bug for life. As much I loved all forms of boat racing, my focus started to shift toward the APBA’s Vintage and Historic division. Since that time, I have done my best to promote the good word of vintage hydroplaning through my eyes and the eyes of others pertaining to the history of the sport I love above all other sports. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s ask a few influential people on how they became involved with vintage hydroplanes. I reached out to Dan and Debbie Joseph, directors of the Wheeling Vintage Raceboat Regatta which takes place annually on Labor Day weekend in Wheeling, West Virginia. This highly popular regatta will be celebrating its 15th consecutive season this coming fall. It was Dan’s Mother who became a big hydroplane fan of the famous New Martinsville Regatta, where racing began back in 1938. Dan caught the hydro bug in the early 60’s and has followed boat racing closely ever since. In 2000, the S-420 “Little Fission” was purchased on e-bay as a surprise birthday present for Dan’s younger brother Brian. Little did the Joseph family know that this would be the beginning of what has become one of the most successful vintage hydroplane families in the entire Vintage and Historic division. To date, the Joseph family have seven vintage inboard hydroplanes in their arsenal, which include the 1976 S-420 “Little Fission”; the 1966 S-103 “The Judge”; the 1952 F-10 “Henry’s Tenth”(now a static display only); the 1986 A-41 “Something Special”; the 1965 F-888 “Jade Dragon”; the 1956 H-1 “Miss DeSoto”(co-owned with David Kappel) and their latest acquisition, the 1970 T-1 “Lil Leprechaun”. Many of these hulls were originally built and then meticulously restored by the Lauterbach family, all of which carry master status in the field of hydroplane design and construction. So, the next time you find yourself asking the question “why vintage?”, you won’t have to look any further than the shores of Heritage Port on the banks of the mighty Ohio River in Wheeling, WV or any other body of water where our sport comes alive with the sights and sounds of history. It is there where you will find your answer. John Woodward – Region 10 Vintage and Historic representative.  


More Posts