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Thread: Ralph Donald, Marietta,Georgia and Naples, Florida

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    Default Ralph Donald, Marietta,Georgia and Naples, Florida

    • RALPH DONALD, (Marietta, Georgia) NAPLES, FLORIDA December 17, 1930 (90) Phone interview Saturday January 10, 2021 1 – Ralph first met Walt Blankenstein at McAlester, Oklahoma at the NOA World Championships in 1958. 2 – Ralph's first trip to DePue, Illinois for the APBA Nationals was in 1966. The following week NOA held their World Championships at Midland, Michigan. 3 – Ralph's trailer (Strange Stuff) was purchased from Bill Seebold for $350.00 in 1965. In 1966 Ralph attended the NOA World Championsh

      Thu, Sep 2 at 6:14 PM

    • Thu, Sep 2 at 6:14 PM

      RALPH DONALD, (Marietta, Georgia) NAPLES, FLORIDA December 17, 1930 (90) Phone interview Saturday January 10, 2021
      1 – Ralph first met Walt Blankenstein at McAlester, Oklahoma at the NOA World Championships in 1958.

      2 – Ralph's first trip to DePue, Illinois for the APBA Nationals was in 1966. The following week NOA held their World Championships at Midland, Michigan.

      3 – Ralph's trailer (Strange Stuff) was purchased from Bill Seebold for $350.00 in 1965. In 1966 Ralph attended the NOA World Championships at Midland, Michigan. Ralph raced at Midland at NOA WC in 1962 also and won B runabout.

      4 – Ralph met Billy Seebold for the first time at McAlester, Oklahoma. Billy was 18. In 1961 Billy called Ralph while stationed at Fort Gillem near Atlanta. Ralph picked him up on a weekend and took him to a boat race in Alabama.

      5 – Ralph's occupation was real estate agent at first then real estate broker while living in Marietta, Georgia. In 1960 he bought 30 acres of property where he resided and sold in 1997 and moved to Florida.

      6 - Ralph started racing in 1953 and retired from racing in 2011 after Depue.

      7 – Ralph never missed a year racing at DePue since they returned to racing.
      8 – Ralph started racing in 1953 in B runabout after being released from the Marine Corp in May 1952 after being called up in 1950. Ralph's high school friend had a Mercury 10 KG7 on an Aristocraft boat. They went to a lake and that started his interest in boating. After this experience Ralph tried to buy a Mercury KG7 and they were not available. He was able to buy a Johnson 25 and Aristocraft boat which was faster than his friend's Mercury. His friend then bought a A B class runabout and a Quicksilver unit which was faster than his Johnson. He was invited to a race in Perry, Ga. by his friend and after seeing the race decided he wanted to race boats. In 1952 he bought a 10' Speedliner, Merc KG7 and Quicksilver lower unit along with the stock lower unit and all parts from a guy that was ready to quit racing.

      9 – Ralph's high school friend worked for a guy that raced PR's and owned a marine store. The owner suggested they convert their Mercury to alcohol and did all the work. They then started racing with the SEBA in 1953. (South Eastern Boating Association)

      10 – After the Marine Corp Ralph went to college and majored in Real Estate management.

      11 – Ralph raced this equipment for most of 1953.

      12 – In Sept.1953 Ralph bought a DixieFlash boat from North Carolina and won his first race at Americus, Ga. that he ran for the best part of 4 years.

      13 – Ralph's friend bought a Swift and ran B hydro and runabout. Ralph also bought a Swift and ran the same B hydro and runabout classes as his friend.

      14 – Ralph added a Mercury KG4 15 cu. Inch engine and could now run A & B hydro and runabout.

      15 – 1956 Dieter Konig came to the U.S. Al Bryant had been stationed in Germany. Al's specialty was refrigeration. He setup the air conditioning system for the Pottsdam Conference held in Germany July 17 – August 2, 1945.

      16 – Mather Hyatt and Al stayed in Germany after the war and had seen Dieter Konig testing a boat on a canal. Al & Mather bought equipment and started racing with Dieter. Al was supposed to be the Konig dealer/importer for the U.S. and he passed on this because of his job. Scott Smith was made the importer as he was Mather Hyatt's brother-in-law. Hyatt himself stayed in Germany until he retired from the military.

      17 - Hyatt convinced Dieter to market his engines in the U.S. Dieter came to a lot of APBA, NOA, SEBA Championships along with John Ward races in Canada.

      18 – In 1957 Ralph sold all his Mercury and related equipment and bought A, B and C Konig engines. All three for less than $1,500.00. He bought a new Richard Simmons hydro. This boat was too big for the A but worked for the B & C engines.

      19 – Ralph bought Tommy Christopher's Ashburn runabout after Tommy ordered a new boat for himself.

      20 – Dub Parker invited Ralph to come to the 1958 NOA World Championships in McAlester, Oklahoma. This is when Ralph first met the DeSilva brothers Ralph and Bill. They DeSilva's described his Ashburn as an “ironing board”.

      21 – 1960 Ralph bought his first DeSilva A-B runabout. He still ran the Richard Simmons hydro for couple more years.

      22 – Ralph sold the 3 cylinder C Konig in 1958 to another racer from Texas.

      23 – 1957 Ralph bought a Konig that had tuned exhaust. The following year they added tuned exhaust to the B Konig. Dieter said the C Konig did not need this exhaust.

      24 – SEBA races were close and. Ralph never ran any NOA races at that time.

      25 – Ralph ran the Dubinski hydros for several years built by Dub Parker. The first models looked a lot like Hal Kelly Jupiter model hydro. As things progressed they looked like Sid and Marchetti hydros.

      26 – Ralph quit running A/B runabout in the 1990's.

      27 – Ralph ran loopers for a short time with Fred Gilbert all owned by Charlie Westbrook.

      28 – Joe Poole was a Mercury dealer in Atlanta and sold Ralph the Dixie Flash boat. Ralph ran the Merc/Quincy engines for 2-3 years then went back to Konig engines when Dieter came out with the first 4 cylinder B Konig. This engine had what was called a square block. 1970's they came out with a lighter version.

      29 – 1958 Konig B did not have tuned exhaust and ran about 60 mph on the runabout. Scott Smith told Ralph about Walt Blankenstein making a megaphone exhaust for the B Konig and bought them and upped the speed to 67mph.

      30 – Konig A normally had a carb and exhaust on both sides of the engine. Early 1970 Dieter gave Ralph a Konig A to run with both carbs on one side of the engine and both exhaust on the opposite side of the engine. At Lakeland Ralph set a record in A hydro. Jerry Waldman protested Ralph's record on the basis this was a new engine not certified by APBA while in reality it was the same engine with a different block. This was a cast iron cylinder where the previous engine had an aluminum block with iron sleeves. Konig B engines both 2 & 4 cylinder had aluminum blocks with iron sleeves.

      31 – Ralph's first championship with the DeSilva runabout was in 1962 at Midland, Michigan in B runabout. While out in front with the Dubinski in B hydro he spun out in one of the turns for which those boats were famous.

      32 – 1966 Midland, Michigan while running loopers Jerry Simonson stuck his A engine qualifying and loaned Ralph his prop to win the 1st heat. While out in front in the second heat another boat went over backwards on the front straightway and a spectator thinking he was doing a good thing jumped in the water and swam towards the driver of the flipped boat. (alcohol was involved on the spectators part) The re-run of the heat found Ted May driving for Doc Collins getting the better start and winning the second heat and championship on time.

      33 – Charlie Westbrook was impressed with the two man F runabout class. Charlie got Ralph to order a DeSilva side by side runabout and Charlie bought Bill Fales Merc 6 cylinder defector engine after Bill went to the 6 cylinder looper engine. Best they ever ran was third at DePue in 1973.
      34 – Fred Gilbert drove for Charlie Westbrook until his son David was old enough to drive. (David at 70 passed away from a heart attack in 2020)

      35 – Ralph and David owned a car wash, which they bought from Charlie, first in Marietta, Georgia then moved to Woodstock, Georgia at the junction of hwy 92 and 575. It was sold to the Honda dealer next to the car wash for expansion in 2013

      36 – Ralph stopped driving runabout classes in 1992 -94. Ralph bought a B hydro from John Stevens in 1988 as he went to work for a Kawasaki dealer driving jet skis. When the B hydros started running over 100 mph Ralph decided he did not want to run that fast.

      37 – John McCorvey ran the 125 hydro class in the 1990's. Steve Litzell built the engine with Yamaha parts and Ralph ran this class and 175 hydro until 2011 when he quit racing. He donated the equipment to Race for Kids in Florida.

      38 – Ralph promoted the UIM 125 WC and Ralph ran the 125 class in Europe. He persuaded USTS to adopt the 175 class.

      39 – 2000 Ralph raced the McCorvey boat and Litzell engine in Estonia. The races were jetty start not clock start like here in North America. When the engine was held flat it would start instantly. Not so when started at an angle. Although he was recognized as having the fastest equipment he ended up 4th overall due to the starting problems.

      40 – At one time Europe did run a clock start. Ralph ran a 500 hydro with Hans Krage's boat and Dieter's engine with Dieter as the pit crew. 30 hydros started on a one buoy turn at each end of the course. Boats were passing at very close quarters in both directions. Dieter told Ralph at 15 seconds he would crank the engine and he should leave the jetty go up the cannel to a specific point, turn and go wide open for the start line. After all the points were totaled Ralph was 7th . The following week in Linz, Germany there were less starters and Ralph end up with a 3rd. This was his first experience in a lay down hydro. At this point 4:40 PM we had to stop our call as someone was trying to reach Ralph and the phone trying to ring blocked our conversation.

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