May 2013 Archive

Monday, May 20, 2013

1st Annual Race the Joe! Jet Boat Racing, St. Joe River, St. Maries, Idaho.

After experiencing the thrill of last year's U.S.A. World Jet Boat River Marathon Championship, the community of St. Maries invited the race teams back for the 1st Annual Race the Joe!  Thanks to the generous support of volunteers and sponsors, spectators were able to see the race boats fly by at speeds approaching 140MPH!

Photos from Race the Joe! 2013

For more race photos, view our Race the Joe! 2013 album

Video from Race the Joe! 2013
To see more video footage from Race the Joe, visit our YouTube channel.
Final Standings and Times:

Monday, May 20, 2013


Prior to the first ever unlimited hydroplane lap on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Mayor Perry Christianson of Coeur d’Alene commissioned Coral Reef owner Austin “Doc” Snell and his driver Harry Reeves as members of the Coeur d’Alene Navy. The “commissioning” took place at the 3PM dedication of the new Third Street pit area.

Having accepted the commission, Reeves stepped into the cockpit of the Coral Reef to the sound of the music of the Coeur d’Alene Elks Band and the booming of a cannon fired by members of the Chamber of Commerce “Navy”.

Reeves circled the new course eight times on the dedicatory run as an estimated crowd of 20,000 people looked on from every possible vantage point around the racecourse.

With crowds predictions for the 1958 estimated to be at 200,000 plus, race planners coordinated closely with law enforcement to develop plans to any problem that might develop on the water and on land. Towards that end, a record number of law enforcement officers were expected to be in town on race weekend to help with traffic control and public safety.

The regularly assigned city police and sheriff’s officers were to be augmented for the weekend by a force of Idaho State Police, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Posse, the Idaho National Guard, Civil Defense police from Spokane, state liquor law enforcement officers, state game conservation officers, border patrolmen, a U.S. Coast Guard crew, the Spokane reserve Coast Guard contingent, and the Coast Guard auxiliary contingents from Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

The test laps by Coral Reef kicked off what would be a busy race week. While in later years, testing and qualification would drop off to next to nothing, the inaugural race week saw boats on the water from Monday through Friday.

The activity on the racecourse caused some unforeseen problems for swimmers enjoying City Beach, however. In a joint press release from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Coeur d’Alene Unlimited Hydroplane Association, the two entities announced that swimming would not be allowed during those times that hydroplanes were on the water.

City Beach lifeguards were instructed to clear the water of swimmers as soon as they were advised that a raceboat was about to enter the course. If the swimmers failed to comply, the course was to be closed down until everyone was safely on the beach. There was a fear that if a boat went out of control in the north turn that it would injure swimmers located there.

Rainfall wiped out the first official day of testing on Monday of race week. Crewmembers of the Bardahl, Maverick, and Coral Reef used the down time to work under tarps or spent the day in team trailers preparing equipment.

On Tuesday, the weather was only slightly improved. Despite scattered showers, W.T. Waggoner’s Maverick took the $100 daily prize for the fastest timed lap, thus establishing the first of many course records that the red, white, and gold boat would hold. With an extremely slow speed of 81.100 MPH, Maverick took the prize largely by default. The other two boats in the pits failed to make it off their trailers for the entirety of the day.

Maverick leaves the pit area at the foot of Third Street

Museum of North Idaho Photo

After receiving the fast lap check from the CUHA, Waggoner took the money and donated it to a Spokane orphanage for train fare and tickets to help bring its young people to Coeur d’Alene for the races.

Wednesday saw vastly improved weather conditions as the course officially opened for qualifying. First to give it a go were Bill Stead and Maverick who quickly erased the slower time from Tuesday with a more respectable lap of 111.300 MPH. The Maverick team took the $100 fast time money they won for the day and donated it to a local charity.

During an untimed run late in the day, one of the Maverick’s exhaust stacks suddenly flew off and struck Stead. The driver suffered burns to an arm and one leg, and the boat’s cockpit briefly filled with a flash of flames. The burns were superficial and Stead was soon back in the pits with bandages covering his wounded appendages.

Bill Brow shared driving time in the Miss Burien with fellow crewmember Dick Short. They each had timed runs, with Brow running the fastest lap at 97.300 MPH.

Maverick clearly established that it was the team to beat as Stead posted the fastest time on for a third straight day with a run of 111.100 MPH on Wednesday afternoon. Also making the qualifying ladder were Miss Burien with 97.400 MPH and Mira Slovak and Miss Bardahl with 93.100 MPH.

Crewmembers work on Miss Bardahl as Maverick is lowered into the water in the busy Diamond Cup pits – The tail of Coral Reef is also visible.

Museum of North Idaho Photo

Thursday’s fast time money went to Bill Brow and Miss Burien at 102.273 MPH despite the fact that Stead and the Maverick recorded a new course record speed of 113.233 MPH. The Arizona boat was ineligible for the top-qualifying prize, having won the money the previous two days.

Several unlimited drivers revealed their intention to participate in the limited hydro card of races scheduled for Saturday of race weekend. Miss Spokane’s Dallas Sartz was set to go with a 266-class hydro, while Bill Muncey and Mira Slovak were scheduled to get it on in the 280-class. Coral Reef driver Harry Reeves, Miss Seattle driver Chuck Hickling, Miss U.S driver Bill Brow, and a young Rex Manchester were all registered for the race in various classes.

Cloudy skies and high humidity greeted race fans flocking to the shores of the lake on Friday. Highlighting the day were two 111 MPH laps by the red-hot Maverick. After Stead’s fast turns around the course, the wind started to kick up, and only Miss Pay n’ Save and Adios would make it onto the course before it was officially closed for safety reasons. Adios took the fast lap money for Friday with a not so fast high speed of 75.784 MPH.

The weather did not improve much on Saturday. Steady winds whipped the lake’s surface into a froth of white caps that kept the boats on their trailers until late in the afternoon. When the course did open, Thriftway Too took the fastest lap money at 106.509 MPH despite bouncing and banging its way through pockets of high wave action.

The limited races were postponed until early Sunday morning and then canceled altogether. When the cancellation announcement was made, several of the limited teams trailered their boats to nearby Fernan Lake on the east end of Coeur d’Alene and held an impromptu race for a handful of fans and family.

On Sunday morning, two of the unqualified boats were allowed a chance to qualify. Adios was the first to go, but the boat broke loose a gas line and the engine compartment quickly filled with racing fuel. Driver George McKernan immediately shut the boat down and it was towed back to the dock to have the fuel siphoned away.

Miss Athletic Round Table also attempted to run, but the American Power Boat Association safety committee declared the aging boat unsafe after it failed to pass a required safety inspection. It spent the rest of race weekend sitting on its trailer at the north end of the pit area.

Lyle Park’s Miss Athletic Roundtable sits atop its trailer after being declared unsafe to race

Diamond Cup Hydromaniac’s Photo

The heat draw took place Saturday afternoon for Sunday’s races. Drawn into Heat 1-A scheduled for 12:30 p.m. were Miss Bardahl, Miss Burien, Miss Seattle, Miss Thriftway, and Miss U.S. In Heat 1-B at 1:15 p.m. were Maverick, Coral Reef, Miss Pay n’ Save, Thriftway Too, and the local favorite Miss Spokane. Adios would have one more chance to make the field on Sunday morning and would be assigned to Heat 1-B if it proved to be successful.

Slightly overcast skies and cool temperatures in the mid-sixties greeted an estimated 30,000 spectators on Sunday morning. Eleven boats were poised to do battle for the Diamond Cup trophy, and conditions were relatively good for boat racing. The time had finally arrived to go racing.

NEXT INSTALLMENT: The 1958 Diamond Cup Race and Its Aftermath

PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT: The Race to Get Ready and Getting the First Boat Wet

Steve Shepperd


Coeur d'Alene Hydromaniacs

Post comments or questions below, or follow Diamond Cup Hydromaniacs on Facebook

Friday, May 10, 2013


The pressure was truly on… two months and counting until the Coeur d’Alene Unlimited Hydroplane Association had to have everything in place to get the big boats wet and qualifying underway for the very first Diamond Cup for unlimited hydroplanes.

The very first task to be completed was the find a usable location for the course and to properly survey it for approval by the American Power Boat Association. Less than a week after the decision to make a go of the race, race officials and a representative from the APBA took to the air in a helicopter with Kootenai County Surveyor Ray Kindler to look at potential race sites.

When the group later spoke to the press, they shared that central to any racecourse plan had to be Tubbs Hill because of its potential as a vantage point to watch the race. This is reflected in the initial press report announcing that the course the CUHA initially selected was between Silver Beach and Tubbs Hill, encompassing the south side of the rocky hill, Sanders Beach, the Potlatch Mill area, and a portion of U.S. Highway 10. That design had the course running east west and no more than 600 to 800 feet from the shore, offering unparalleled views of the racing.

Shortly after that release hit the papers, however, the CUHA made a rapid course correction (no pun intended) and issued another statement saying that they had chosen another location. While no reason was given for the change, it is likely that huge crowds jammed along a quiet residential street, a busy lumberyard, and one of the busiest east-west highways in the country posed too large a logistical problem for the race committee to solve.

A Coeur d’Alene Press photo showed an aerial view of the course with the approximate configuration drawn onto the photo.

Front-page photo showing course location

Coeur d'Alene Press Photo

The new location had been formally approved by Unlimited Racing Commission commissioner Ross Merrill and would take full advantage of Tubbs Hill, the City Beach, and City Park as viewing areas. The Ray Kindler designed course would run in a northwest to southeast direction with Tubbs Hill on its eastern side, and a log boom viewing area on its western side. The north turn of the course would run within 1200 feet of City Beach and the south turn would take the boats to a location near Arrow Point. The start line would be situated near Corbin Point on Tubbs Hill, and the course would pass within 1000 feet of land at that location.

With the course mapped out, attention focused on its primary need: money. The CUHA finance committee began its fund drive within days of the decision to go racing, and in the first week raised a total of $11,750 (Note: that sum would equal $94,993.37 in 2013 dollars]. Donations to the fund by businesses and individuals were listed each day in a special “Honor Roll” section of the Coeur d’Alene Press. In the first month, total contributions exceeded $10,100.

After crunching numbers, the committee estimated that the total budget needed to put on the first race was $30,000 [$242,536 in 2013 dollars]. Much of the costs were seen to be for the first year only, but here was still much to be done for the committee to meet their goal.

The CUHA next filed articles of incorporation in Boise for the non-profit association. Incorporators included Duane Hagadone, Martin Chesnut, Ron McDonald, Lee Brack, L. R. Wood, Perry Christianson, and Burl Hagadone as the board of directors.

The Coeur d’Alene City Council passed a resolution giving the CUHA complete charge of the races and related activities. Extra costs for policing, clean up, sanitation, and other city services would be borne by the CUHA in return for use of City Beach, Tubbs Hill, and a section of land at the foot of Third Street that would be used as the pit area.

Governor Smylie announced from Boise that the boat teams would be exempted from having to pay Idaho pleasure craft licensing fees. Perhaps in response to this official action, Smylie was named by Commodore John S. Richards as an honorary commodore of the race, a position Smylie enthusiastically accepted.

KING-TV from Seattle announced that they would be broadcasting the race to the Spokane and Seattle viewing areas. KREM-TV would carry the Seattle coverage. KHQ-TV of Spokane later announced that they would also be broadcasting the race live.

Members of the race committee traveled to the small central Washington town of Chelan to meet with their counterparts on the Apple Cup organizing committee to discuss the details necessary to run a successful race. The CUHA leadership also met with Greater Seattle Inc., sponsoring group of Seattle’s Seafair week to get additional ideas for incorporation into their race plan.

Meetings took place that worked out plans for policing the community during the race and addressing the availability of parking. New parking areas were roughed out in the area adjacent to the City Park and Memorial baseball field, parking that is still used to this day.

Representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard traveled to Coeur d’Alene, and an official plan was created for the Coast Guard to securely police the course during the race week and weekend.

The pit committee set to work on transforming what had been for over a century the pier for collecting logs from the lake for the now closed Coeur d’Alene Lumber Mill/Box Factory into a pit area for the boats competing in the race. This committee’s work would have a lasting effect on the development of the waterfront and would spur other changes that would completely transform the city’s waterfront area.

Historic picture of the land where the Third Street Pit area was built showing the train trestles and debris

Museum of North Idaho Photo

The committee started by ripping out a railroad trestle once owned by the Northern Pacific in that jutted into the water in its entirety. They also removed a section of the Great Northern trestle adjacent to it, shortening it to fifty feet in length. The trestles had been used to dump logs trained into the area into the lakes waters to be stored until needed.

New pilings were driven along the ancient wooden seawall along the lumber mill pier. This was followed by the addition of new rip-rap, extensive backfilling, and leveling of the large area to be used for the parking of the boats along the seawall.

A steam-powered dredge was brought in and tons of wood debris and silt were removed from the channel in front of the seawall. This had to be done to allow the propellers of the raceboats to function properly in an area where once only flat bottomed boats could operate without dragging bottem.

A fifty-foot high scaffolding structure was erected on what was left of the Great Northern pier for use as a control and communications tower. A television and radio tower was also constructed adjacent to the pits to accommodate the media.

Most everything used in constructing the pit area was donated by local businesses, thus keeping the costs down. It reportedly cost the race organizers only $5,000 [approximately $40,400 in 2013 dollars] to construct the entire facility Coeur d’Alene tractor provided machinery, Luke’s Transfer and Storage provided a bulldozer and crane truck, and Secaur Cement supplied most of the concrete and fill used.

Tubbs Hill also received the attention of the race committee. Heavy brush and several view restricting trees were removed. The work was done in conjunction with a crew from the Coeur d’Alene National Forest ranger station.

A crew under the direction of County Surveyor Ray Kindler placed the anchors and marker buoys for the racecourse.

Booster button sales began to raise revenue. The brightly colored buttons sold for $1 each and could be found throughout the downtown business district. As preparations continued, the CUHA received its official sanction. The race date assigned added two weeks to the preparation time with the race scheduled officially for the weekend of June 28th and 29th. Even with the added time, time was tight for the organizers.

A press release from the CUHA proudly announced that the committee had received its first official entry: the community owned Miss Spokane. Many additional entries were announced in the days that followed.

Just prior to the beginning of race week, the newly crafted, three-foot tall Diamond Cup trophy was unveiled. Designed by local commercial artist (and hydroplane enthusiast) Ted Anderson, the trophy would be awarded to the winning team each year. The diamond shaped trophy on a mahogany base was created by Everson’s Jewelry of Coeur d’Alene and was studded with rhinestones. The cost for creating the trophy was placed at $700 [or over $6,800 in modern terms]. Not surprisingly, the money for creating the trophy was donated by the Athletic Round Table. They also paid for the creation of smaller trophies to be taken home by the winning teams.

Moved into place with less than a week to go were the log boom anchors and the official barge. The barge was three stories high and was constructed from steel scaffolding and plywood that had been donated by local lumber firms. The barge was placed on Corbin Point. Placed atop the structure was a huge starting clock designed and constructed by Glen Halliday’s Allied Weldery (Note: the weldery is still in business on North Second Street in Coeur d’Alene).

General Telphone Company provided telephone service to the barge and pit area. Washington Water Power installed a 50 kilowatt transformer and connected power to both locations.

One of the final steps was the installation of the course buoys and log booms. The course buoys had been designed by race referee Stanley Donogh and had been constructed in Seattle from various sizes of tire inner tubes. The two dozen markers were then trucked to Coeur d’Alene to be installed around the course.

Finally everything was in readiness. And so it was, that on the hottest day in two years that the first boat officially got wet. With the temperature hovering at a blistering 99 degrees, the course was opened on Sunday afternoon, June 22nd, and Austin Snell’s Tacoma-based Coral Reef became the first-ever unlimited hydro to circle the Diamond course.

Austin Snell’s Coral Reef being lowered into the water for the very first run by an unlimited hydroplane on Coeur d’Alene Lake

Museum of North Idaho Photo

NEXT INSTALLMENT: The Inaugural Race Week


Steve Shepperd


Coeur d'Alene Hydromaniacs

Post comments or questions below, or follow Diamond Cup Hydromaniacs on Facebook

Friday, May 3, 2013


Let me take you on a brief flashback to the way things were in the early spring of 1958 in Coeur d’Alene. It was such a different world from what we all experience today.

Coeur d’Alene was still very much a small town in a sparsely populated western state. The 1960 census tells us that the population of the City by the Lake was a nearing 14,000 people where it now has nearly 45,000 citizens.

In the world of entertainment, your only source for movies was the local theater. Not everyone had a television and video and DVD technologies were more than a decade away for the common consumer. Color television technology was also still a few years from becoming affordable to the average homeowner.

In the world of sports, the Pacific Northwest region was bereft of professional teams. Baseball, football, basketball, and soccer teams were all amateur or semi-professional in the five state region surrounding Idaho. To see a professional team of any kind, significant hours (if not days) of travel were necessary.

In the area of transportation, the interstate highway system was many years from being complete, and two lane roads and highways connected the towns and cities of the northwest states rather than the modern day multi-lane freeway system. Those roads and highways generally ran through rather than around towns and cities, adding precious time to even the shortest of road trips.

In the area of economics, the United States as a whole and North Idaho in particular were both suffering from the effects of a deepening recession, the worst that had been suffered by the country and the region since the end of World War II. The effects of the recession were particularly impacting the Coeur d’Alene area with the prices for wood and mining products spiraling downward and large numbers of workers being laid off or terminated.

It was in this environment that the Diamond Cup for unlimited hydroplanes was born.

Like their counterparts during the deep recession of 1913, the city fathers of Coeur d’Alene looked to tourism to stimulate business and job growth. Once again the lake and the sport of inboard boat racing would become the focus of the business community in an effort to grow the local job market and weather the receding economy.

In researching for my upcoming book on the Diamond Cup, I found that the actual birthplace for the races was Coeur d’Alene’s Athletic Round Table (ART). The ART was a member’s only cocktail lounge and informal meeting place located in the bottom level of the Desert Hotel at First and Sherman. Its membership included many of Coeur d’Alene’s most influential downtown businessmen and the movers and shakers of the entire lakeside community.

Outside entrance and parking lot of the Athletic Round Table on the
west side of the Desert Hotel facing First Street – The parking lot eventually gave
way to a pool and outside bar

From its very beginnings in 1933, the ART was a popular meeting place where forward thinking business people could meet to talk of the events of the day.

Their role expanded during the post war years to include support of civic activities and contributions to many area charities. This was largely due to two laws passed by the Idaho legislature that were to directly benefit the clubs bank account. In 1947, a change in state laws allowed the ART to become the first drinking establishment in the state of Idaho to be allowed to sell of liquor by the drink since the repeal of prohibition in 1933. The same year, a local option vote authorized by legislature permitted the ART to install slot machines on its premises.

ART entrance sign on the south side of the Desert Hotel facing Sherman Avenue

Museum of North Idaho Photo

Benefiting directly over the next few years from the largess that came from ART liquor sales and gambling were the cities athletic teams, its high school band, the restoration of the historic Fort Grounds Church, and the construction of the float that would represent Idaho at the inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. The club was also able to funnel some of the money into an upgrade of its clubroom and lounge, making it an even more attractive gathering place.

A change in state law that came in 1954 would make the slot machines illegal, but the club would continue to benefit greatly from its hard liquor sales. The loss of revenue did nothing to diminish the groups support of civic activities and projects, and it was a natural outgrowth of this civic focus for the ART to be at the center of the movement to bring hydroplane racing to the community when the time came.

That time came in the early spring of 1958.

Although, I have not been able to determine the one person who came up with the idea, I have been able to determine that the initial discussions on bringing the big boats to Coeur d’Alene took place in the clubroom of the ART in early months of 1958. Those present more than likely included ART board members John S. Richards, Lee Brack, Carter Crimp, and Doug Downing.

Cover of Athletic Round Table match book advertising the Diamond Cup Races

Glenn Raymond Photo

The earliest public reference to what would become the Diamond Cup race is found on the cover of the Thursday, March 20, 1958 edition of the Coeur d’Alene Press, which announced “Hydro Racing Sought On Lake” in two-inch cap letters on page one. The accompanying article predicted that the race would become the biggest promotion that the city had ever seen and generously predicted that it would attract 200,000 to 250,000 visitors to the city for the inaugural race.

The Press article also revealed that an application for a race sanction had been sent off to the American Power Boat Association, the sports ruling body, the night before following a get together in the ART meeting room. At that same get together, the Coeur d’Alene Unlimited Hydroplane Association (CUHA) was formed to act as the sponsoring body for the races.

The same article was also the first written referral to the race as being the “Diamond Cup”.

The leadership of the CUHA was elected at the meeting and the first board of directors included Atlas Tie lumber mill manager John S. Richards as race commodore, Coeur d’Alene Press advertising manager Duane Hagadone as vice commodore, ART general manager Ron McDonald as secretary, and First National Bank manager Martin Chesnut as treasurer. It was a very influential group.

What was most interesting about the application for the race sanction was the dates the committee had selected: June 14th and 15th. Using the March 20th announcement of the race as the starting point, the organizers had roughly sixty-eight days to get funding arranged, the committee organized, and the race facilities ready for the arrival of the race teams.

The task facing the CUHA was indeed monumental – Could they possibly get past all of the obstacles in their path and get it all together in time?

NEXT INSTALLMENT: The Race to Get Ready and Getting the First Boats Wet
PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT: The Greyhound, The Fire Chief, and The Wasp

Steve Shepperd
Coeur d'Alene Hydromaniacs

Post comments or questions below, or follow Diamond Cup Hydromaniacs on Facebook