View Full Version : Karelsen Benson Runabout (1959)

07-07-2010, 07:54 AM
Here is a picture taken in 1959 on Seattle's Green Lake of a boat called the Jolly Jack.
From other post in this forum it sounds like Karelsen did not build to many runabouts.
Has anyone heard of a Karelsen Kenson Hull ?


04-15-2012, 10:52 PM
I'm surprised you never got a reply to this. I never heard of Kenson. Jolly Jack was a JU built for Jackie Holden, and it must have been a good one because he got both the closed course and straightaway records with it, and held them for several years until Janis Lee and the Downing boys came along in the mid-60s. Holden's records credited Karelsen, with no mention of Kenson.

Ed Karelsen built few runabouts, but he had another winner and record-setter with Dave Swanson's AU. Don Foti also built some runabouts for the Seattle-area guys, Joe Trumbly built a few, seems like I saw one built by Grandy (?). There were some Sid-Craft runabouts here, and a lot of DeSilvas, large and small. The Downing boys dad built their runabouts, and Drew Thompson built his, as Darrell Sorenson was starting to do in the later Sixties. Dale Powell was very fast with a C and D Castagneto. The one Clark-Craft I recall was bought by Don Anderson, and he liked it a lot. Joe Price built boats, props, and maybe did motor work for Tom Scheidt in Oregon, who was generally out front. At some point, I'll guess about 1972 (??), Craig Selvidge started turning out his runabouts, which I think were slight modifications of Price's boat at first.

Ed's brother Dave also built a number of boats. IIRC, his cabover hydros were called Fine-Craft, and Howard Anderson was running them with his crossflow Mercs in 1965. Dave also built a few hydros (one outboard, a couple of inboards) that quickly became known as "bat-boats" because the rear non-trips flared way out to get some aerodynamic lift.

Dean Hobart can undoubtedly add to and correct this list.

Master Oil Racing Team
04-16-2012, 08:29 AM
Looks to me more like RenSon, A good short historical list of boat builders in your area Smitty.

04-16-2012, 08:47 AM
It is actually a Karelsen Benson. The Benson family was Al Benson, dad, and two sons, Don and Jim. Don and Jim ran Stock Outboard in the 50's and later ran Inboards... as did
Al the dad.

The Benson's had a Marina at the North end of Lake Washington, called Uplake Marina.

Ed Karelsen built his boats there for awhile, thus the Karelsen Benson name.

Don Benson won the Nationals in 1955 in ASH at Devil's (De) Lake, Lincoln City, Oregon.

Jim was second in both ASH and AU (Stock Runabout) in 1959, at the Nationals, Green Lake, Seattle, Washington.

04-16-2012, 10:34 AM
Nice call Dean: Now that I look at the picture again it does look like two faint lines enclosing the top and bottom of the "K".
Al Benson even drove in the big show (the unlimited's) for a while as well.
He was one of the best boat drivers to come out of the Northwest without a doubt.
Thanks again Dean


Ron Hill
04-16-2012, 11:05 AM
In 1957, the Divisionals were in Orick, California. There were only two JU's, Jackie Holden and maybe Barbara Shoemaker. Jack's dad went to my dad and convinced him I should run JU, to make a class. I only raced JU once, I got a third place trophy. I won AU that day.

I broke the 1/2 mile AU record the next day, but I always thought that Jolly Jack's boat was faster than mine.

My dad disqualified Al Benson at the 1964 Stock Nationals in Modesto. The exhaust relief holes were too large. Lenard Keller told my dad, via a type written note, that Al quit Stock BECAUSE of the DQ, as he had raced that motor for many years and felt a few thousandths oversize exhaust didn't make him fast.

He started inboards only after that.

Tapping around the exhaust holes, with a ball peen hammer, could have made this motor legal in a few minutes, but that wasn't the way the rules worked.

Anyway, cool boat, that Jolly Jack!!!

04-16-2012, 11:27 AM
Other than mentioning Ed Karelsen's brother Dave (and there might have been a third Karelsen brother in racing, but before my time), I was only trying to cover the (outboard) runabout builders of the Northwest. For some reason my old feeble brain is not coming up with many names of outboard hydro builders here. A lot of guys did one-offs, usually copies or near-copies of some production boat, and there was always some novice showing up, like I did, with his beloved new basement-built Hal Kelly plans-boat, even years after those designs had become uncompetitive. When I finally got rid of my beautiful Jupiter and bought a new Karelsen BSH, I picked up an immediate 7 mph, and as I drove it round and round on Lake Tapps the first time, with the sponsons off the water (!!!) and the boat riding nice and loose even around the corners, I thought, "Holy cow, so THIS is what it's supposed to be like!!"

I wish I had kept the old Jupiter, though; now I know all the alterations I could do to make it work reasonably well. Shoulda kept a 20H to run on it, too . . . what a neat old motor that was.

Ed Karelson used to tell a story of what got him into boat-building. He and his brother(s)(?) had bought a brand-new DSH hull from Joe Swift in Florida. Maybe Swift was experimenting with a new glue, or maybe someone working for him screwed up (Swift was turning out a whole lot of boats in those days!); in any case, Ed went barreling into the first turn of his first heat . . . and "the bottom fell out of the boat". I think Ed was maybe still a student at the UW, in marine engineering, and started building boats, of which Jack Holden's must have been one of the first. Incidently, IIRC, Russ Bircher, who recently passed away, once told me that his dad taught Ed how to do layout and lofting.

Ed had an interesting trick of construction, though maybe it was not unique to him. Though his hydros were symmetrical side-to-side, he purposely built in a slight longitudinal twist, made permanent when the decks were glued down as you know if you have built a hydro. This very slight twist had no effect when running down the straightaways, but when you pitched a Karelsen into a corner it would "set" itself hard . . . and then go around the turn as if on rails. Guys would come back from stock or alky Nationals saying, "Well, those Midwest boats or Texas boats (or whatever boats) are fast, and those guys build good engines and do lots of prop-testing, but nothing they have will corner better than, and usually not as well as, our Karelsens (and R&Ds)". Ed's boats took care of you (a good thing for a no-talent driver like me!).

So who were the local "name" hydro builders, let's see (and again this is from "my time" in the mid-'60s to early-'70s): Ted Jones and Ron Jones were building here before I got into the game, by which time Ron had moved to California, though several guys still were running his cabovers, usually D Stock and larger. Larry Goff ("G&H") built hydros that were just stunningly gorgeous, with masterful joinery work, the first ones going to his partner in the enterprise, Ron Hagness, who ran mostly D Loopers. Bob Rhoades and brother-in-law Jim Daniels ("R&D") built a pair of C/D Stock hydros based on Bob's short sponson Sid-Craft but with numerous changes that made the new boats much more forgiving than the Sid. As soon as the two hit the water, they started getting orders, and Bob eventually built boats for many classes from BSH to FOH. We need Dean to help here, because I can't think of anyone else who built hydros in any numbers until Craig Selvidge ("Craig-Craft") started turning out his Hedlund-eaters in the '70s.

(EDIT) One of the Downing boys, I think Jim, won a Nationals and then got DQ'ed in inspection for the reason you describe, Ron. His dad, Bill, who built the motors as well as the boats, was HIGHLY irate!!