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Thread: Richard Charles Rautenberg, 2/27/40 to 5/29/16

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    Team Member smittythewelder's Avatar
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    Default Richard Charles Rautenberg, 2/27/40 to 5/29/16

    Dick Rautenberg is gone (complications of Parkinson's). From the Fifties, when he and brother Bob got into racing, Dick was a very active and important and cherished member of Seattle Outboard Association all his life. Bob was the Konig dealer in Reg. 10 for a time, and in 1963 he set a competition record iR at Yelm, while Dick won the AOH Nationals at Moses Lake, both of them with Sid-Craft hulls.

    I just heard about this a few days ago. Others will be able to tell us much more, including all of the family connections within boatracing, but I want to say that Dick was as friendly and likeable and upbeat a man as there is in life, seemingly always with a grin on his face. A sad loss.

    Please, will anyone who can do a more complete obituary/memorium please post it in the "Racers Who Are No Longer With Us" section . . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by smittythewelder View Post
    Dick Rautenberg is gone (complications of Parkinson's). From the Fifties, when he and brother Bob got into racing, Dick was a very active and important and cherished member of Seattle Outboard Association all his life. Bob was the Konig dealer in Reg. 10 for a time, and in 1963 he set a competition record iR at Yelm, while Dick won the AOH Nationals at Moses Lake.

    I just heard about this a few days ago. Others will be able to tell us much more, including all of the family connections within boatracing, but I want to say that Dick was as friendly and likeable and upbeat a man as there is in life, seemingly always with a grin on his face. A sad loss.

    Please, will anyone who can do a more complete obituary/memorium please post it in the "Racers Who Are No Longer With Us" section . . . .



    Smitty:

    I also thought there was a section titled "Racers Who are No Longer With Us" or something very similar so as to make it handy and easier for some of the older ones of us to either check on those who may not be around anymore, or read more about them if we did not know them well. I remember writing something about both Stan Leavendusky and Phil Howard, but darned if I can find it anymore, at least under that listing and I am sure I looked carefully.

    Perhaps Ron Hill will see this post and resurrect it again. Hope it is not lost forever as there was much interesting information there, about some I know well, and some I did not.

    ADDED LATER:

    I found the thread by using the search function and Butch's name, but there is no longer a thread I could find under that title in the forum list, unless I just missed it someway.

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    Team Member smittythewelder's Avatar
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    I forgot that Dick also won the 350cc Hydro Nationals (Konig/Karelsen) in IIRC 1973 or '74. I have an idea that Dick ran a lot of Mod hydro stuff in later years, but I had lost track by then so I hope someone will come clue us in. I do know that he was also considered a very good runabout driver, and somewhere I have a photo of him out front at Quincy in a CRR/DeSilva with one of the early rotary-valve 4-cyl Konigs with that big clunky-looking can-muffler they had for a couple of years before the bounce pipes took over.

    If you were lucky enough to know him, you might agree that it whatever sort of racing record he compiled was sort of irrelevant, because you valued Dick for his winning personality.

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    Default Dick Rautenberg; my memories

    Quote Originally Posted by smittythewelder View Post
    Dick Rautenberg is gone (complications of Parkinson's). From the Fifties, when he and brother Bob got into racing, Dick was a very active and important and cherished member of Seattle Outboard Association all his life. Bob was the Konig dealer in Reg. 10 for a time, and in 1963 he set a competition record iR at Yelm, while Dick won the AOH Nationals at Moses Lake, both of them with Sid-Craft hulls.
    I A sad loss.
    Please, will anyone who can do a more complete obituary/memorium please post it in the "Racers Who Are No Longer With Us" section . . . .
    ====
    Sorry Smitty, I'm placing my D. Rautenberg note here. (Trying a literal transfer).
    ---
    2016 began okay but went very negative near the middle. My being a well practiced ‘grump’ is still not quite as rough as when another friend, usually an old one from a good history past, runs out a lifetime and dies. Smittythewelder phoned to tell me that Jim Hallum was suddenly terminally ill and to call immediately. There is an amount to mark as positive when you can say goodbye with a proper thank you to an old friend for the good & interesting times past.

    In a following phone conversation with Smitty he asked if I knew that Dick Rautenberg had died several months earlier. I did not, and was surprised to learn that he had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

    Dick & older brother Bob Rautenberg were there at the Northwest races from my earliest race in 1958, a Novice race cosponsored by Seattle Outboard Service & Seattle Outboard Association. I think that they were fairly new to outboard racing at that time, maybe were even part of that same first Novice Race on Lake Washington in 1958. Vague, (maybe phantom), memory of Bob running that race in C or D stock hydro with a new Karelson cabover hull but no recall of Dick running in B stock hydro which was his normal class later. Dick may have been one of the 40 Novice drivers in that original event but I would not have known by name.

    Dick & I were mostly racer friends. Dick was maybe a year older than I with Bob being about 2 years older than Dick and in college at U of W I think. Later on Dick & I car-pooled to a local Junior College and worked in winter at the nearest ski area; Dick instructed and I helped operate ski lifts. Other than that our lives ran different tracks so not much social contact away from outboard racing.

    We did make a winter ski trip during the year end college break in 1961. Drove to Big Mountain in Whitefish, MT for 2 days of skiing and then picked up Gerry Walin at his folks new home in Missoula, MT en route to 2 days of skiing at Mt. Baldy in Ketchum, ID. It was a memorable trip although a poor snow depth year at Sun Valley. Our first experience of skiing on slopes that had convex curvature, not the typical Cascade mountain side-hill & ravines. In Montana restaurants back then, if you bought one of their large steak dinners for a little over $5 and handed them a $20 bill you received a fist full of silver dollars in change. Same for almost any purchase. The three of us returned to Seattle each carrying one spare sock half full of silver dollars. That big silver was not much welcomed around Seattle since there was no place for it in most cash registers by then.

    Dick was basically a fairly focused fellow, mostly serious & ‘on topic’ nearly all of the time. It would be easy for someone to mistake his generally pleasant, jovial, nature as being without that “continual focus”. After reaching “legal” age he enjoyed the regular boat racers evening adjustment to Ethanol & ice after a hard day with Methanol & Caster Oil. The gang of rather notorious “north end” racers were a fun ‘after hours’ group; all with top rate equipment and always near record speed on daytime waters.
    Region 10 was a fast gang with lots of races, both lakes & rivers, in the late ‘50’s & through the ‘70’s. Dick & Bob (and Pop) Rautenberg were always there with a proper trailer and good race rigs which were upgraded as soon as improved items became available.

    I remember those earliest racing times with Dick running B Stock Hydro, I think first in a Karelson-Swift hull but soon in a new style Swift Big B hull, the first in region 10. Can’t recall if he ran Merc or Champ but was fast with the new hull. I will guess that an added reason for going with the new Big B Swift was the fit for using newly available A & B Konig’s by brother Bob who had just become a new Konig dealer in about 1959.

    Those were the parallel twin cyl. motors. They were pretty good engines but were still running against really fast older equipment and soon the Anzani’s. I cannot recall if those early Konig’s were loop scavenged or cross-flow. I sort of remember being surprised to see a deflector piston when a cyl. head was pulled. The idea that a European motor design, even about 1960, would not be loop scavenged makes my old memory seem wrong. There were also mechanical & material issues with those early Konig engines. I think that we all attributed those issues to unfortunate results from a tiny start-up manufacturer. Time passed and improvements happened.

    Dick and Bob did well enough with those early alky motors and remained in the trophy zone with their Stock equipment ongoing. Memories are of their early trailer being without a berth for runabouts. Puzzling to recall now since they ran record fast in alky runabout by the mid-to-late 1960’s and into the ‘70’s. I do wish that my recall was better since Dick & Bob and “steady pit-hand Pop” sure deserve a proper retelling of their good effort.

    An interesting associated tale of the early times included another outboard racing almost next-door neighbor of the Rautenberg’s, a contemporary of brother Bob’s, … Bob (Alvin?) Lean and sister Betty. (I hope names & spelling are correct). The Rautenberg’s & Lean’s lived on the Lake Washington shore East side, almost directly across the lake from Billy Schumacher. Many old boat racing families lived on prime waterfront properties. You kind of had to be there early enough. A little later the lake shores farther east & Lake Sammamish were the options and the boat racers lived there too. It was no wonder that with the lake at their front door and testing time always available that these racers were at top form most of the time.

    Bob Lean first ran A Stock Hydro, I think, maybe with a Karelson-Swift hull and always pitted with the Rautenberg camp. Car top haul at first and then on their trailer. Sister Betty was there too at most local races and I think ran a few A Stock races years later. Quite soon Bob had switched to the early A Konig. He was unlucky with that motor, seems like an endless set of ignition problems and maybe other issues.

    Bob’s unique solution for the ignition problem was to adapt model airplane engine glow plugs to the Konig spark plug holes. Even though we had questions about uncontrolled ignition timing with glow plugs in non-engineered compression situations, the glow plugs worked well enough for normal operation. They did present two issues however. The major problem was a puzzling burn-out in short life. The second issue was an inability to restart the motor if stopped out on the water, … not sure why. I am not not sure if Bob was able to run a full race with glow plugs and there was never a solution before he ended his racing years. So that interesting chapter of two Bob’s racing with the Rautenberg-Lean camp sort of faded quietly away. Seemed unfortunate to me at the time but surely there was a full story even though I don’t remember now.

    Those later 1960’s years when I no longer raced are the times when I would chat with Dick & Bob at the races but now are only vague memories of their racing gear and good fortune. They certainly did stay fully involved though.

    Even later times well after the strong opposed twin A Konig vs the Anzani; the later larger powerful Konigs; Sid Craft & Marchetti & local Goff-Craft hulls; new style runabout hulls; Lake Lawrence & DeLake record speeds, etc, ... my memories are mostly second hand late information where someone tells me of Dick or Bob setting a record. Maybe I was lucky enough to see that action before 1970 but sure don’t remember it well.

    My general memories of Dick in the decades later were as I described in my long writing for remembrance of Jim Hallum & Gerry Walin. Each decade I would manage one or two visits to the Lake Lawrence annual year end record course race. Dick would be there, busy racing and managing an ever increasing set of Rautenberg boat racers & their equipment. It would be fun to chat but could only be a short conversation because he was making things happen and I was a long time clueless. It was a little awkward, … my fault by disappearing almost completely.

    Dick had the same focused but jovial & relaxed manner that I remembered. At my last Lake Lawrence visit day in about 2010 Dick was busy hauling boats and kids to the water but I think he was no longer racing himself. I do not recall seeing brother Bob there and maybe not at some earlier years either but there must have been some. What I do recall in my own mental humor of the moment was realizing that Dick was a single guy when we were both racing and that had remained as my mental image. What had happened in the long meanwhile was that at each successive Lawrence I attended he had first become racer Uncle Dick with Bob’s kids, (again I am clueless), and then racer Papa Dick, (not sure of the order of those two), then Grandpa Dick (maybe racing), and I am not quite sure what generation of kids he was sending out to race in 2010.

    Dick did not seem to be suffering any medical condition other than our common old age at that last Lawrence race visit (if it was 2010) and if I am not remembering an earlier year visit. I had looked forward to another L. Lawrence or maybe Silver Lake-Everett visit with Dick in hopes of a longer conversation. Maybe where he would be more free to gather with the old gang of remaining 1960’s racers standing around enjoying each others company for an hour.

    That didn’t happen. Too many times now, that hasn’t happened. They all were valuable racing friends who contributed positive things during our active connected times.

    Russ Rotzler
    Thanks Al Lang thanked for this post
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    Team Member smittythewelder's Avatar
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    Thanks again for your usual treasure chest of reminiscences, Russ. No one who knew him will ever forget Dick, but he deserved a good write-up. It is hard, as you say, to watch the good old friends checking out (including Bill Van, who posted above).

    Interesting about the glow plug experiments, a subject which would occasionally come up, with guys speculating on how they might work or not. FWIW, Bob and Dick did get the Konigs sorted out, with each brother setting a record (Bob in ARR) or winning a Nationals (Dick in AOH). When I got an A Konig in the mid-'60s, I heard that Bob had been a dealer, and went over to his house to see if he had anything left. Not much, but I still have a drawer in my shop with a bunch of baby-food jars hold various metric nuts and bolts that Bob had left over. Oh, again FWIW, Russ, the Konig A engine was a looper from about 1957-on, and iterations of that motor were manufactured and were winning races into the late-'70s. The early B and C Konigs, mid-'50s, were crossflows, with the transfer passage going through the side of the piston skirt, as Anzani did with their loopers. Someone from the outside, reading that, might remark that an obit ought to be about the man and not tech trivia, but like most racers, Dick was a gearhead, and would have understood (albeit with that chuckle of his).

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