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Thread: Stock Utility Runabout

  1. #1
    Team Member seacow's Avatar
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    Default Stock Utility Runabout

    Stock Utility Runabout. This phrase like the vessels to which it refers is antique. It joins the word graveyard along with the likes of " davenport", "icebox", "chesterfield", and "crash helmet".

    The stock utility runabouts of the late forties and early fifties were often seen with very little decking or at least two cockpits. And importantly, they could carry more than one person. My first racing boat was an AU/BU Van Pelt that was purchased from Johnny Diaz's boat shop in Chicago and had been raced in marathons as denoted by the racing numbers "B222V". Marathon boats had and still have the ability to do more than run in a circle.

    That Van Pelt and the Dry Run and Sid Craft that followed it were multipurpose rigs. I not only entered sanctioned boat races. I also went fishing, made runs around both Bass lake Indiana and up and down the Red River in Winnipeg. When not racing, my front cockpit seat was once graced with two cute teen aged girls that I was trying to impress and on other occasions my Grandma who carried with her substantial avoirdupois. The front cockpit also had occasion to carry friends, some of whom began to race after being a passenger.

    For a spell I lived on the river. Very early on some race day mornings I would have my stock utility runabout at the dock, load a sawhorse, toolkit and gas can in the front cockpit and travel to a race site some miles upstream or downstream from my place.

    Over the years the rules changed. The front cockpit and its "seat" was eliminated as an APBA requirement. The moniker "DU" became "DSR". "Utlity" was then dropped both as a descriptor and a function. Later on the runabout was allowed to have almost no depth from top to bottom. Now the boats could look "cooler" with less resistance. But something was lost. Perhaps something important for the health of the racing. The loss of any class with a utility function meant that the sport has less ability to initially be attractive to a broader cross section of the population. Not only was utility gone but also even the concept of what a stock outboard motor is has been compromised. It is no longer possible to walk into a generic boat dealer and order a motor new that can compete in an APBA outboard runabout race.

    From time-to-time, it appeared that one or two utility classes might augment APBA lineups. The inflatables showed promise for a while and still are in some areas. There was the advent of OPC boats. Originally "outboard pleasure crafts" could very well serve many functions and carry more than one person. But now OPC means outboard performance classes with single function except for the localized Formula V class.

    I placed this museum trip in the current discussion rather than in the history or nostalgia forums. It is because the decline of racing has many aspects but is possible that one reason is that every boat class has become single purpose. In outboard racing we no longer have many boats with utility other than to go very fast around a circle.
    Last edited by seacow; 09-09-2008 at 11:33 PM. Reason: added material and correct typo

  2. #2
    Sam Cullis Mark75H's Avatar
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    I agree
    Since 1925, about 150 different racing outboards have been made.


  3. #3
    Team Member J. Sherlock's Avatar
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    Default opc-v

    Many are looking back at the past and for many reasons. We in http://opc-v.com/ are seeing it in events we are attending.
    Much can be learned looking back.............
    John Sherlock

  4. #4
    BoatRacingFacts VIP Ted March's Avatar
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    Went through the same thing. My Sid D Utility had a front cockpit and a piece of plywood that served as a seat. Spent many hours cruising the Intercoastal Waterway and the back bays of South Jersey with a young lady or a friend in that front cockpit and then packing up and going racing on the weekends.

    The boats were even more versatile when we started racing OPC. My Allison had molded back to back seats and a raised walk through that served a seat when racing and a jump seat for one of the kids when cruising around with a family of five. Had running lights too.

    It was not uncommon to go sking on a Sunday morning, go back to the dock, unload the ski equipment, load the racing gear, ride up the Intercoastal to the race site, raise the jack plate, change the prop and go racing. At the end of the day we would reverse the procedure and ride home, tie up the boat and have dinner and maybe after dinner take the family for an evening boat ride.

    The same boat set a kilo record, won Albany to New York and the Downtown Marathon in Knoxville in class and ran third in the NOA Nationals in Portsmouth, Ohio in addition to many local races.

    Can't do that anymore, but it sure was fun!!!

  5. #5
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    Default Said It All!!!!

    Sea COW , for an awful long time when i cruised these websites I thought i was the only 1 who really lived life, i'm sure there are other reallists out there, I SALUTE. I say slow 'em down and build 'em bigger, let's bring the fun back.
    RichardKCMo
    Quote Originally Posted by seacow View Post
    Stock Utility Runabout. This phrase like the vessels to which it refers is antique. It joins the word graveyard along with the likes of " davenport", "icebox", "chesterfield", and "crash helmet".

    The stock utility runabouts of the late forties and early fifties were often seen with very little decking or at least two cockpits. And importantly, they could carry more than one person. My first racing boat was an AU/BU Van Pelt that was purchased from Johnny Diaz's boat shop in Chicago and had been raced in marathons as denoted by the racing numbers "B222V". Marathon boats had and still have the ability to do more than run in a circle.

    That Van Pelt and the Dry Run and Sid Craft that followed it were multipurpose rigs. I not only entered sanctioned boat races. I also went fishing, made runs around both Bass lake Indiana and up and down the Red River in Winnipeg. When not racing, my front cockpit seat was once graced with two cute teen aged girls that I was trying to impress and on other occasions my Grandma who carried with her substantial avoirdupois. The front cockpit also had occasion to carry friends, some of whom began to race after being a passenger.

    For a spell I lived on the river. Very early on some race day mornings I would have my stock utility runabout at the dock, load a sawhorse, toolkit and gas can in the front cockpit and travel to a race site some miles upstream or downstream from my place.

    Over the years the rules changed. The front cockpit and its "seat" was eliminated as an APBA requirement. The moniker "DU" became "DSR". "Utlity" was then dropped both as a descriptor and a function. Later on the runabout was allowed to have almost no depth from top to bottom. Now the boats could look "cooler" with less resistance. But something was lost. Perhaps something important for the health of the racing. The loss of any class with a utility function meant that the sport has less ability to initially be attractive to a broader cross section of the population. Not only was utility gone but also even the concept of what a stock outboard motor is has been compromised. It is no longer possible to walk into a generic boat dealer and order a motor new that can compete in an APBA outboard runabout race.

    From time-to-time, it appeared that one or two utility classes might augment APBA lineups. The inflatables showed promise for a while and still are in some areas. There was the advent of OPC boats. Originally "outboard pleasure crafts" could very well serve many functions and carry more than one person. But now OPC means outboard performance classes with single function except for the localized Formula V class.

    I placed this museum trip in the current discussion rather than in the history or nostalgia forums. It is because the decline of racing has many aspects but is possible that one reason is that every boat class has become single purpose. In outboard racing we no longer have many boats with utility other than to go very fast around a circle.

  6. #6
    Team Member J. Sherlock's Avatar
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    Check us out http://opc-v.com/ and join in as we bring the fun back.

    "We Are Out to Have a Good 'Old Time"
    John Sherlock

  7. #7
    Team Member buff5's Avatar
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    Default Van Pelt utility

    Sea Cow: Can you post or send me a picture of your Van Pelt?, & year it was built also, Water scooter or Racing scooter?
    Thanks
    Ronald
    buff10@charter.net

  8. #8
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    Well said seacow. What is wrong with racing "pleasure" boats. I have a Mini boat that is not real mini (small). The GF and I go everywhere in it on the weekends but would like to have races to run it in also. Maybe we need poker runs for mini boats.
    Outboard Model Concepts
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  9. #9
    Team Member capnzee's Avatar
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    Long ago I raced a PABST BU in the mid-west. Moved to Florida and built a Hal Kelly
    "36", moved to Los Angeles and ran a Speedliner DU, and ended up with Bill Boyes' version of a DeSilva. With this boat we ran CU, "36" DU and (when they would let us) FRR piggy back style. Since that time, the "utility" boats have literally turned into not much more than powered surf boards and there sure aren't many of these left in California. I ran OPC in Florida with a Curtis Craft. As I recall we had to have "seating" for around 5 persons, each space being something like 15" X 30". OPC in their wisdom "killed" these classes and later became known as Outboard Performance Craft, and the cost went up and participation went down! Three years ago I made an attempt to "kick-start" these fun classes and wrote the rules for COR (Classic Outboard Run a bouts). These rules were nearly hi-jacked by OPC but with the help of Bill Boyes and Howie Nichols we were able to move them unto the Special Events section of APBA. I was afraid OPC would do the same to the COR classes as they did to the original OPC classes. Our rules can be found on APBA's web site under Special Events. Our COR boats can be bought for around 5000 bucks, powered and on a trailer. They can be used as a family boat and raced when there is a race (if it isn't cancelled). At Long Beach in August we have 7 COR boats entered. We could be one of the stronger classes represented. One of the boats entered is running with full upholstery cause he is going water skiing after the race. So, for you old timers, there is still hope of returning to the fun utility classes of the past. You can run safely at 80 mph, on a budget you can afford! Look up the rules or give me a call if you have any interest in getting back to the fun racing of the 40's, 50's and 60's. I firmly believe that the COR classes can breathe new life into APBA. Rod Zapf (310) 488-3563

  10. #10
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    Default Van Pelt B Utility

    My Van Pelt. Lorain Yacht Club Race, Lake Erie, approximately 1957. Very good rough water racer.You squeezed the throttle and hung on. We raced regardless of water conditions. Generally in open water and the wind blowing.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Sea Bat; 08-30-2011 at 08:00 PM. Reason: Wrong year

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