The Miss Goodwin Story
The story of Miss Goodwin begins when I was about 8 yrs old. My first boat ride was in an outboard, which I think was J class runabout. This was on Loon Lake near Spokane, Washington. The owner of the boat was my uncle, my mothers twin brother, Virgil Fortune. Our family spent most of our summers on an Island owned by my aunt Ruth, my Dads (Jake) sister, near LaConner, Washington. At age 11, I remember running up and down the pier dragging a stick in the water to make a rooster tail. I got so involved watching the water spray, I ran right off the end of the pier. I didnt know how to swim. Fortunately for me, my sister Pat jumped in and pulled me to safety but, in the process, she ruined a brand new dress she had just a few minutes before, put on for a family dinner party that evening. When I was about twelve years old, my Dad, my brother Duane, and I were working on Dads boat on the Snohomish River near our home in Everett. Duane decided I could take the boat out to see if I could make it plain. He was right, it ran pretty well except, neither my Dad, nor my brother told me how to shut it off, not to mention how to dock. So, I just drove the boat up and down the river until it ran out of gas.
In 1950 the Slo Mo IV became the pride of Seattle. Slo Mo won the Gold Cup in Detroit and brought the Cup to Seattle. All throughout the fifties I never missed any unlimited hydroplane race that was televised. Huge crowds would line the shores of Lake Washington and all three Seattle television stations were on hand during what was with out a doubt, the best years of unlimited racing. I remember Bill OMara of King TV and Keith Jackson when he was with Komo TV. Great Drivers like Bill Muncey, Lou Fagael, Joe Taggart, and Mira Slovak, just to mention a few, all made the sport very colorful. I dont wish to take anything away from present day unlimited racing, the sport just continued to evolve. But, there was just something special about the roar of the Allison and Rolls engines. Not to mention the ongoing disputes between Seattle and Detroit drivers and owners.
In the early fifties my cousin Bill Moody, decided to built fiberglass boats in Marysville, Washington. Bill had only two models, a 12ft and a 14ft. My brother purchased a 12ft boat and powered it with a new 25 hp Evinrude. The boat was very fast for its time. The only time he ran the boat was on Lake Goodwin northwest of Marysville. I loved sitting in the very front of the boat and staring ahead at the water as it raced under the bow. As I grew older I continued to be more and more fascinated with speed over water. My first boat was . built by Cousin Bill. I couldnt afford a 25hp, so I bought a used 16hp Scott-At-Water. In1952, my mother and father rented two homes that were side by side on Lake Goodwin, for the summer. My brother and his family lived in one home, Mom, Dad, my younger sister Linda, and I lived in the other. One day my brother decided we should have a boat race. He set up a two buoy race course and talked our neighbor Denny Duskin, into participating. My brother put his 25hp on Dads big old 16boat for me to drive and he ran my boat. It was my first race and I will admit it was fun beating my older brother and our neighbor. We ran three heats, I won all three.
One experience I have never forgotten to this day was when I was running my boat one nice summer day on Lake Goodwin. Of course, I was going as fast as I could, when a beautiful Chris Craft inboard pull up along side of me and then dusted me off. As the Chris pulled away, one of the ladies in the back seat turned around and waved bye, bye. That was the first and last time that ever happened.
Determined to have the fastest boat on the lake, the first thing I did after High School graduation was to buy a brand new 14 Lady Clipper. I powered it with a new 45hp Mercury. The Lady Clipper had a crowned mahogany deck and two tail fins, with a flat bottom and sides that flared out. The boat deck resembled a hydroplane. She had a lot of lift and was very fast, nothing on the lake was faster. One year later a good friend of mine, Roger Lervick (Roger later became president of Twin City Foods in Stanwood, Washington), bought an A or B Class outboard hydroplane. This purchase came shortly after he tried to beat me with his over powered runabout. During our side by side race, Roger became airborne and ended up in the water, his boat upside down. I fished him out of the drink. But now, with his purchase of his O/B hydro the hand writing was on the wall. Roger planned to steal my crown.
The following weekend I was reading the Seattle Sunday Times. When I looked in the classified section under boats for sale, I found a limited inboard hydroplane. I immediately called and talked to a fellow named Ken DeRango. Ken filled me in about the boat. It was a competitive Hallett 225 CI hydroplane which he owned and raced as Cheers through the Seattle Inboard Racing Association. As I recall, he was high point champion for his class at SIRA. I asked Mr. DeRango if he would be interested in taking a runabout for partial trade. He said he would have to see the boat. I hooked up my boat the same day and drove to the DeRango residence on the shores of Lake Washington. Upon arriving at Durangos, I fell in love with the boat. I never even asked him to start the engine. I asked him if it ran good and was their anything wrong with the boat. He stated it was in great condition. With very little negotiations, we struck a deal. I gave him the title to my Lady Clipper and a check for the difference, we shook hands, and we had a deal. That was how I did business for the next twenty five years. That was the way almost everybody did business back then. Keep in mind, I only wanted to have the fastest boat on Lake Goodwin. I couldn’t wait until the next day so I could drive the boat down the lake past the Lervick home.
The next day I drove the boat for the first time. What a wonderful sensation. I suppose the boat only ran a little over 100mph, but, it was just what I wanted. Lake Goodwin is about 2 miles long, so you could get the boat going pretty good. After several runs I brought the boat back in to my brother-in-law Wally Cases home on the east side of the lake. Wally asked me if he could take the boat for a run. Wally took off in the boat like he was a professional driver who had driven hydros his entire life. He ran down the Lake and powered his way through the turns. He and the boat looked great with the late afternoon sun shining through the rooster tail. It was a thing of beauty. On the way home that evening my Dad asked me why I didnt drive the boat the way Wally had driven. I explained to him I just wanted to take my time and get a good feel for the boat.
Two days later we were back at Lake Goodwin. As before, I took the boat out for ride and then I ask Gary Vance, a High School buddy if he wanted to drive the boat. Gary jumped at the chance. He took off down the lake and was well out of sight. Unable to see the boat I got very anxious. When Gary returned it was Wallys turn. After making several high speed passes he was making one last turn in front of his home. To this day I cannot figure out how Wally managed to turn the boat up side down. I was standing on the dock next to my Dad, we looked at each other, but not a word was spoken. Never again did Dad make any comments about my driving and Wally never again drove my boat. Gary mentioned he got the boat going fast enough for the bow to become more than a little light. Years later, Gary made the comment he was glad he got to drive the boat before Wally flipped it over. After that flip, I stopped treating the boat as if it was a fast pleasure craft, even though three of four others drove the Cheers. Nor, would I allow anyone to drive the boat that was not well qualified and experienced. Although my Dad wanted to drive the boat a year later and of course I said OK. Dad pulled slowly away from the dock and then picked up more and more speed until the rooster tail started to fly. I laughed to myself and wondered what an old man of fifty one was doing driving a hydroplane. I did not however, criticize his driving.
Back in Arlington, as we were repairing the boat (very minor damage) and pumping water out of the cylinders, Wally asked what I intended to do with the hydro. I replied, just run it around Lake Goodwin until I got tried of that routine and then sell the boat. He suggested it was a race boat and just maybe we should go racing. I thought to myself, what a novel idea. This was where and when Miss Goodwin began moving in the direction of a National Championship.
In late summer 1958, we participated in two races. I took second place in both races. During the fall and winter, the boat under went a dramatic change. I discussed what I wanted to do with Ron Jones. Go faster. Ron suggested I move the engine ahead by about ten inches. I then bought a sleek new Jones cowling. Next was the engine. A lifelong friend of mine, David Seefeldt, recommended a guy by the name of Jack Conner who had a small speed shop on Market Street in Ballard, a northwest section of Seattle. I met with Jack and I asked him to build me a new engine. Jack asked how much I wanted to spend. My answer was to build the best engine you can while staying within the rules. I gave Jack a copy of the engine rules and left for home. Jay Craft of Arlington removed the birch decking, plugged up the exhaust pipe holes in the side of the boat, and installed as new deck with rotary grain mahogany plywood. At that time I was attending Everett Junior College and working at my fathers sawmill in Arlington after school, weekends, and during the summer. I was still living with my parents and they were paying for my college. Every dime I made went into the hydroplane. Wally Case, Jack Blacker, Grant Pointdexter, Gary Vance, Stu Tollefson and Ken Sather all helped me with the boat. I had scheduled a work session one night during the week but Sather failed to show up. When I called Ken he reminded me on TV that night was the new Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour. All of us, except for Wally, jumped in my car and headed to Sathers. At 18 and 19 years old, you have certain priorities. The boat would have to wait.
By early spring 1959 the boat was ready to go into the water for testing. My first test drive was not very impressive; the boat was sluggish and did not perform well. We always tested out of Wallys home on Lake Goodwin. He and my sister Virginia had built a new home with a nice pier and boat launch. I drove the boat back to the dock and told Jack Conner the boat was not very responsive. Jack adjusted the magneto and told me to take another run. I ran the boat up to about eighty mph for a moment and then stuck my foot in it. The boat jumped slightly sideways and pinned me back in my seat. I was so impressed by the acceleration and so thrilled, I started to laugh out loud. I took several long runs that day and began to notice all the little things the boat was going through. First of all the engines torque made the boat drift to the right and it did not steer straight down the course. If I applied a little rudder pressure to run straight, the boat would obviously show down. So I learned to let the boat drift down the straightway. The next thing I noticed was how the deck rippled from deck rib to deck rib, front to back. At last I was ready to go racing. But, the newly named Miss Goodwin had other ideas.
During the late spring and early summer we went to every race we could. At Lake Sammamish I had trouble with the electrical system and did not start in the first heat. In the second heat I ran with the 266s. I really got beaten badly, bad start, rough water. I vowed I would never again step up to race against those animals. At Lake Hatzic B.C., I was plagued with more mechanical problems. At Green Lake in Seattle, even before the start, I ended up with lap full hot oil as the hose to the oil pressure gauge broke. At Lake Newman, I got a driving lesson from Merle Solland in Hasty Too and I ended up with a second place. Finally, it seemed like we had it all together and we left for Kelowna, B.C. The weather could not have been better. As we lined up for the start of the first heat I was along side of Harry Reeves in Birdie. Harry had won a National Championship in his 136 Ope. We were looking at one another and at the same time we stomped on the accelerators. Goodwin did her thing in a hurry and as I ran away from Harry his mouth just dropped open with surprise. By the start of the second lap I was almost a half of lap ahead of everybody. I told myself to relax, calm down, and enjoy the ride. That thought lasted for just a few spilt seconds. I quickly got bored and got back on the throttle. I slid into the next turn exactly as I did in the first lap, only problem was, I didnt take into account the rougher water. The right sponson dipped into a hole and the boat began to spin, the next I knew I was in the drink. The flip over wasnt that big of deal, but my ego was badly bruised. Dumb rookie mistake. Looking back, it was like putting a low time Cessna 150 student into the cockpit of a P-51 Mustang. Obviously, we did not make the second heat. I later heard Harry Reeves was really pissed. He complained to everyone the little rich kid was going to wreck the 225 class by out-spending everybody. When I heard what Harry said, I got a pretty good laugh, he had no idea it was a shoe string operation, nor did anybody else. Sure my Dad had money, but the boat was strictly my sole financial responsibility. Shortly after the Kelowna race, Harry put his boat up for sale. The boat was purchased by Bob Johansson of Benton City, Washington who continued to run Birdie as Gee Whiz for the next few years. Personally, I was glad to see Harry go; He was one heck of a good driver.
After my initiation at Kelowna, I could not wait to get back in the boat. Once again the Goodwin had other ideas. The next race was at Harrison Lake in B.C. During testing I found the steering was all out of whack and at high speed the steering wheel got larger and larger. Race over. I called Jones and told him about the steering problem. Ron mentioned he was successfully using the steering drive box from a Crosley automobile for a solid steering setup. I discarded the cable steering, bought a Crosley, removed the steering gear box and then sold the car for more money then I paid. I took the boat and the part to Jones and he installed the new steering. Next up was Green Lake I could not get started for either heat. I had been out of the boat so long I began to loose my nerve. I good friend of mine Jack Hembury, told me he dumped his 136 and was unable to drive properly for almost a full year. Paul Edgar, (Pauls Misty IV won the National Championship in 1966) owner of the 225 Misty, told me he quit driving when he lost a rudder on the straightaway and flipped his boat. Whatever the reason, I could go like hell down the straight-aways but I chickened out in the turns.
Finally the Goodwin was back together and ready to run. However, I was not. One of my idols was Bill Muncey. Bill was a great guy and was always congenial and supportive of me as he was with all new drivers. When Bill was not able to drive his 266 Thrifty Chevrolier (later Billy Schumachers 280 Dough Baby), he asked Chuck Hickling to drive for him. I was at a cross road. I knew I had one of the best 225s in the Northwest. I also knew I was not mentally focused enough to drive the boat properly, and if that wasnt enough, Uncle Sam started sending me letters about my upcoming service obligation. I started to feel my hydro days were numbered. I made the decision to ask Chuck to drive for me. We won the last eight heats of the year. Late in the year I traded off with Chuck. He was a great teacher and a terrific driver.
In October of 1959, I took the Goodwin to Lincoln City, Oregon, for a shot at the mile. I spent the weekend on the beach or in the hotel, as it rained and blew the entire time I was there. Last October 2004, Dave Seefeldt and I returned to Lincoln City to watch the time trials. After a few boats ran, the wind kicked up and the event was cancelled. The highlight of that trip was the chance meeting with Larry Lauterbach. Both Dave and I had always admired the Lauterbachs dedication to the sport and the fantastic boats Henry and Larry built. It was Larry who got me thinking about building or restoring a vintage hydroplane
During the winter of 1959, Chuck Hickling suggested we shave a little off the sponsons to make the boat run down hill and not be so loose at the end of the shoot. At the time, a very successful 266 named Chris III which was owned and driven by Dixon Vose, ran exactly that way, downhill. Chuck thought we had the horsepower to make that happen. Spring of 1960, I tested the newly configured Goodwin. I could not even get it to plain. I was furious with Chuck and didnt even speak to him for several months. Next stop was at my old friend Ron Jones shop. Ron checked out the sponsons and recommended adding new shims to the sponsons bottoms. Once the job was completed, I took the boat out for a run. It planed and ran very well, but the boat never handled the way I liked it after our first reconfiguration . At the end of the straight away when I would put slight pressure on the rudder to set up the turn, the bow would lift slightly and flutter a bit before it settled down and set for the turn.
In 1960, Memorial Day Weekend we ran on Green Lake. I got a poor start and my old friend Merle Solland won the first heat, beating me by a few seconds. The last heat was another matter. I got a very good start and ran away from Hasty Too. I remember teaching Merle not to try to sneak inside of me. I purposely drifted a little wide in one turn to see if Merle would try for the inside lane, he bit, and I closed the door at the exit pin. Merle had no choice but to take a nice rooster tail bath. In the spring of 1959, I had watched Billy Schumacher driving his 280 Dough Baby, do the same thing to Mira Slovak who was driving Wee Wahoo. Mira responded by donning a bright yellow rain coat for the next heat. Mira was the first person to hijack an airplane. He made a break for freedom while piloting a Czechoslovakian Airliner with his passengers on board. This incident caught the eye of Bill Boeing Jr. and so Mira was offered a job and the opportunity to drive Boeings unlimited, Miss Wahoo. A few years later, Slovak became the first pilot to win the unlimited class at the Reno Air Races, flying a World War Two fighter plane.
The Western Inboard Divisionals were scheduled for Green Lake during Seafair the last weekend in July 1960. Bill Muncey had purchased Hank Vogels, My Sin III, which was the
1958 and 1959, 225 National Champion. By this time, I had forgiven Hickling, so I asked Chuck to drive against Muncey. The Goodwin failed to start in the first heat. Bill Muncey
driving Yum Yum, the renamed My Sin III, won the first heat going away. Prior to the start of the second heat, Hickling was driving in a 266 heat and was literally run over by another boat. After being towed back to the pits, Chuck almost missed the start of the 225 final heats. Not knowing if Chuck was alright or if he was even going to get back to the pits in time, I had already donned my race gear and was sitting in the cockpit waiting for the five minute gun. At the very last minute I saw Chuck running down the beach towards me. I noticed he had a large bandage stained with blood, wrapped around one arm. I asked him if he was okay, he said he was fine. Again, I asked are you sure? He said yes. I hopped out of the boat and Chuck jumped into the cockpit. The five minute gun had already fired while I was still in the boat. Hickling got a great start and drove brilliantly. Miss Goodwin and Yum Yum ran one and two for three laps with the Goodwin winning. It was the best heat of racing I ever witnessed up to that time.
The following Monday night I got a call at home from Bill Schumacher Sr. Bill wanted to know if I was going to Florida for the Nationals. I told him no. He tried to convince me to go and suggested Billy would like to drive my boat. I responded if I did go, I would drive my own boat. We talked for a while longer about Billys driving ability. I certainly agreed that Billy was very talented but, I was not interested in him or anyone else, driving my boat. We ended the conversation politely and I thanked him for calling. The next night Bill called again. This time with a new proposal. If I would let Billy drive my boat, he (Bill), would pay for all the expenses down and back to Florida and give me two thirds of any prize money, should we win. I still wasnt very interested. I ask Bill to hold on while I discussed the proposal with my Dad. I asked Dad if it would be alright because he would be short handed at the lumber mill. Dad said he would work it out and gave me permission for the trip.
We arrived at Cape Coral, Florida, with only one extra day to spare. I got everything squared away and I readied the boat for the race two days later. The night before the race I was approached by Hank Vogel. I was absolutely thrilled to meet him, although Hank was from the East Coast, he was well known in the 225 circles back in Seattle. Hank asked me if I wanted to have a drink with him. Since I had just turned twenty-one two months earlier, it sounded like a great idea. Billy, who was eighteen at the time, and I, followed Hank to one of the local watering holes. It was really great talking with Hank, but it was obvious he just wanted to pump me for information. I didnt care, I was sitting with and talking to the great Hank Vogel, and he was buying. Billy drank only Coca Cola. After a while, I decided I wanted to get going. I thanked Hank and told him I would see him the next day. As Billy and I were about to leave, I told Hank I wanted to get back to the motel so Billy could get a good nights sleep. We said our goodbyes and good lucks and we left. Once in the car and on the road Billy came unglued at me. He told me to never again make such a lame excuse on his behalf. I told Billy we traveled a long distance and I felt we both needed the rest as Billy was driving not only my boat, but, a 136 for Tony McKinnon. Billy was still hot and continued to yell at me. I once again reminded him just how important our trip was and I wasnt going to blow it by drinking and staying up half the night. Billy still wasnt through and started to say something more. I stopped him in mid word and told him to shut up or I was going to drive my own boat the next day. With that, things got very quite in the car.
The next day Billy did not get a good start in the first heat and ended up in second place behind Mr. Vogel. The second heat Billy blew Vogel away and won the 225 championship on elapse time and also set a new course record. Without question Billy had the better equipment. Billy also went on to win the 136 championship as well. Billy and I became very good friends and I certainly owe the championship to Billy and his father Bill. Bill Sr. was truly a great gentleman and over the years I called him just to keep in touch and on occasion I stopped by his bakery in Seattle to say hello. I will never forget the Schumachers made the championship possible.
After the race was over, and as I was removing one of the engine heads for inspection, Hank Vogel stopped by to tell me he was thinking about protesting me. In the 225 class there was a limit on the amount of money you could spend on the engine parts, but no limit on labor. I turned to Hank, looked him straight in the eye and said You really dont want to do that to me, do you Hank? Hank took one long look at me and said No, I guess I dont. We shook hands and he congratulated me for the win. I went away with an even greater respect for Hank Vogel. By the way, we were legal; I had all of the engine part receipts in my car, just in case.
The next day, we packed up and headed for home. The Seattle Inboard Racing Association had captured three National Championships out of seven. In addition to Billys two wins, Chuck Lyford driving Jack Colcocks 7 Litre Challenger won going away. Chuck was a brilliant driver with a dynamic personality. I always thought he would race unlimiteds but, as far as I know, he never did drive the larger boats. However, He was involved with the first turbine unlimited, as team manager. Lyford got busted once by the FAA for an unauthorized barrel roll in a Lear Jet over the race course in Seattle at Seafair between heats. Rumors were that Lyford did some work for the U.S .government in Central America. I talked with Chuck recently, as I wanted to find out whatever happened to the Challenger. According to Chuck, someone from California purchased the boat, crashed it, and it was burned. To bad, Challenger was a beautiful boat.
Back home their were a couple of celebration parties, interviews and photos by the local newspapers. At the next SIRA meeting, commodore Bill Muncey, acknowledged the accomplishments of all that were involved for their achievements at Cape Coral. This was really great stuff for someone who had been in boat racing for less then two years. Looking back, the decision to allow Chuck Hickling and Billy to drive my boat was perhaps one of the smartest things I did in my short boat racing career.
The last time I drove Miss Goodwin was on Lake Goodwin in what was to become the next to the last sanctioned race on the Lake. The local resort owners had decided to sell because their businesses had been ruined by the establishment of a new State Park at the far end of the Lake. For years there had been five thriving resorts on Lake Goodwin. Today only one resort remains, The Lake Goodwin Resort. The picture on the front page of our website and on this commemorative magazine was taken by the Bob Buttke of the Maryville Globe, at the Lake Goodwin regatta in 1960. The guy standing behind me holding my boat is the late Grant Pontdexter, a crew member and high school pal who later became the General Manager of my lumber company. Grant was an expert lumber trader and we did very well together.
In the first heat, I got poor start. I was last over the starting line in a twelve boat field. The other boats were right up on the line for what was a great start for almost everyone but me. I was in lane three and the boats in lanes two and four started merging together with the idea of closing out my lane. I had to make a quick decision, either stomp on the throttle or drop hopelessly far behind. I gave her the gas. The boat responded extremely well and I shot between the two boats with only inches to spare on each side. Im sure both drivers were rattled by that move. By the time we entered the first turn I had the boat speed to easily take the lead. But I backed off because the thought occurred to me if I was thrown out of my boat the other drivers would have no choice but to run over me with no possibility of even seeing me. Now I am in the same position Billy was following Hank Vogel two weeks before. The water was rough so I settled in for a close second place. Years later while talking to a retired unlimited driver; I happen to mention my thoughts about the possibility of being run over. He responded, when he started thinking about the same thing, he knew it was time for him to retire. Looking back, maybe that was the reason I never drove again. I just wasn’t cut out to be a hydroplane driver. But, I sure liked the thrill and the speed.
Prior to the Lake Goodwin race, I had decided if I won the first heat, I would also drive in the second heat. If I didnt win, I told Billy he could drive in the second heat. Billy made a brilliant start. He absolutely blew everybody away. When he crossed the finish line at the end of the second lap he was at least a half a lap ahead of everybody. Billy kept pouring it on to make sure we had the best overall time for both heats. He was screaming down the front straightaway when I heard a loud bang. The boat came to a quick stop and we were through for the day. I quickly added up the points and for a moment I thought we still might end up with a third place, since there were so many boats in each heat. That didn’t happen. I think I ended up in forth place, no trophy. Billy was very apologetic for blowing a piston rod out through the oil pan. I asked him how many RPMs he was turning. He answered 7,000. Keep in mind at 6,000 RPM the boat was running at about 130 MPH once the boat speed caught up with the engine speed. Earlier in the year, Ken Wade of Garden Grove, CA drove his 225 Studebaker/Hallett Teachers Pet through the mile trap at 130 MPH. On the back up run his engine broke. Ken ran the same setup as my boat, so I was pretty confident of the speeds we were turning. Billy felt so bad he was visibly shaken. I was pissed but, I sucked it up and told Billy not to worry about it, because it was all part of racing. I knew Billy was being groomed for bigger and better things, beside I owed him and his Dad a debt of gratitude. Of course, Billy did go on to bigger and better things. He drove the unlimited, Miss Bardahl in the 60s and 70s, winning a couple of Gold Cups plus more then his share of races
In early 1961 I sold the Goodwin to John Ryan who renamed the boat Shillagle. About the same time, I was approached by a guy named Bill Legg who was buying lumber from my Dads sawmill in Arlington. Bill mentioned he wanted to get involved in hydro racing. I told Bill I was going to be drafted sometime in 1961. But, Bill insisted he wanted to be involved with me and get started racing. I heard through Dave Seefeldt, Bill Muncey wanted to sell Yum Yum. So Legg and I bought Yum Yum together. We never really had any success with the boat as we could not get it running properly. In the fall, Legg bought me out and I headed to Fort Ord, California.
In the summer of 1962 SIRA/APBA sanctioned a race on Spanaway Lake near Fort Lewis, Washington. At that time I was in the Army, stationed at Madigan Hospital, part of the Fort Lewis complex. I had opted to join the Army to receive some advance training in the medical field. I was thinking about becoming an MD. I drove over to the race course. As I walked through the pits I heard some one yelling hey Whitley, hey RA Whitley, and RA Whitley, at the top of his lungs. It was Bill Muncey. How in the world he found out I finally volunteered for the Army (RA means Regular Army) I will never know. Bill called me over for an audience among his entourage. Bill began to tell me how much he respected me for making all the right decisions in order to become a National Champion. He went on to tell me how much he disliked Bill Legg. Apparently Legg tried to sue Muncey by claiming Seefeldt switched engines in the Yum Yum. I told Muncey I didnt care much for Legg either as he hosed me on the buy out of Yum Yum. Legg was famous for making up stories that fit whatever agenda he had at the time. I knew he had lied about Seefeldt. David Seefeldt is a man of impeccable honesty and integrity and is still held in very high regard in the boat racing community.
I was released from the Army in the summer of 1964. By this time I had completely given up on my medical aspirations. I spent three years working as an orthopedic technician and I did not like all the pain and suffering I witnessed in the hospitals, the medical field was not for me. My Dad had sold his sawmill and was semi- retired. I tried selling real estate for a while, not too successfully I might ad. Sometime in late 1965, I got a call from Bill Legg. He wanted to meet with me to discuss a new 7 Litre he was having built by Ron Jones. I met with Bill and he immediately offered me a job as his lumber shipping superintendent at a pretty nice salary. Although I never cared much for Legg, I accepted the job. After all, I was starving. Legg explained his plans for the new hydro. It was a cab over, powered by a blown 426 Chrysler Hemi. He had hired Jack Cross to build his engines. Cross was a talented mechanic, a low key quite guy, who acted a little insecure. I didnt blame him; after all he was working for Legg. I got along well with Cross. I stayed out of his way and he out of mine.
Bill Legg was a very difficult man to work for, but he was innovative and years ahead of his time in the lumber business. I truly believe the man was a genius. He knew how to hire the right people, train them, and get everyone working together as a team. He just didnt know when to quit pushing. Legg wanted me to be a part of his race boat crew and I accepted, the boat was named Miss Treated Miss. Legg was in the business of treating lumber. The boat was absolutely beautiful. Ron Jones did an outstanding job of construction with a great deal of attention to detail. Legg wanted a certain ride out of the boat and insisted the boat ran light in the bow. Ron told him it was riding just right, but Legg would not listen. Legg continued to shift weight forward. After a race on Green Lake, I warned Bill if he didnt adjust the weight aft, he was going to stuff the boat. He would not listen. I talked to Ron about the problem. Ron was very concerned as well, and mentioned he had talked with Bill and warned him several times of the risk he was taking. Finally I laid the law down to Legg, not that it mattered to him, either he rebalanced the boat or I was going to quit the crew. He refused, I quit. At the 1966 Nationals held in Seattle on Lake Washington, Legg got washed down at the start of heat one and was running well behind. He finally got the engine cleaned out and started to run very fast. He made big gains on the rest of the field. King TV was on hand for the event. In the TV video, you can clearly see Legg powering through the last turn with the rooster tail flying as if he was on the straightaway. As he neared the finish line, Miss Treated Miss took a big hop, nosed in, and was completely destroyed. Legg crossed the finish line ahead of his boat. He was rushed to the hospital as he had suffered numerous injuries. The worst problem was a cut to one of his eyes. He never regained any depth perception in that eye, his racing days were finished. He was lucky to be alive. By the end of the year, I resigned from Leggs company and took a management job in Marysville with Bills cousin Bob Legg, who had a lumber and fuel business. After working for Bob, (who was a darned good employer and a real gentleman) for five years, as his general manager, I decided to start my own company.
I have tried to keep in touch with some of my old racing buddies. Recently I had lunch with Billy S. I have spoken with Jay Legg, Bill Grader, Bob Johansson, and Paul Edger. I saw George Henley and Donny Benson a few years ago at a boat show in Tacoma. I also ran a cross Chuck Lyford while boating in the San Juans. A few years ago, Chuck gave me some good advice on a sports car purchase. In 1978 Bill Muncey and I considered going into the beer business together. I was greatly saddened by his death in Mexico a few years later. David Seefeldt, who at that time was Bills crew chief on the Atlas, loved Bill. I dont think he has ever really gotten over that tragedy. David and I are still very close friends and we plan to restore the Goodwin if we can find her or build a replica. David prefers to build a new boat.
In late April 2005, I heard Munceys 7 Litre Best Wishes might be available. I called the owner Bud Burns and Bud confirmed he wanted to sell.. The boat was in remarkably good condition. Dave and I, along with retired Delta captain Jim Barstow, plan to finish the restoration Bud had started. Bud Burns is a great guy with a lot of driving experience and much success. He won the High Point Championship in Shady Lady (Best Wishes) in the 266 Class.
In 1965 my wife and I built a new home on Lake Goodwin. In 1979, we purchased three undeveloped lots and built a new home on the east side of the Lake, right where the starting line and clock had been placed during the racing years. It was a great place to raise kids. In 1985 I sold our home to a friend, Orin Edson, founder of Bayliner Boats. We moved away from the Lake that held so many, many, memories.