View Full Version : John R. Woods

Gene East
10-17-2008, 07:16 AM
I just received a phone call from Johnny Dortch stating John Woods was killed in a motorcycle accident on his farm in Southern Missouri yesterday afternoon.

No other details available at this time.

Saddly, today would have been John's birthday.

Another name has been added to the registration at "Lake Paradise"

Rest in peace, John R. Woods


Ron Hill
10-17-2008, 07:52 AM

John always called himself John Riner Woods for St. Louis, Missoura......

The only billionaire I ever knew......and one of the greatest guys I ever knew......

Johnny's job for the last 10-15 years has been helping people give their money away. He was the YOUNGEST SENIOR PARTNER of E.F. HUTTON and had a seat on the New York Stock Exchange when he was 21....About 12 years ago, Johnny called me out of the blue and wanted me to go to an Angel games. He explained he was in town to help Jackie Autrey give away some of her money and wanted to take me to a game with them...I told Johnny I'd be out of town, at a boat race, and could not make the game but why not take my brother....

Seems Johnny had half forgotten my brother...He called my brother and they all went to the game...Every summer since, I think, my brother and his wife, Carolyn, go to Michigan an vistit Johnny and Judy on John's island....

But, 12 years agao, I told John Riner Woods I could go to dinner with him and we met at a lcoal hotel near Disneyland...My youngest son, Broc, asked Johnny at dinner...."Johnny, he said, My daddy says you have lots of money. Is that true?" Johnny answered, "Son I have more money than your daddy thinks I have..."

Johnny always admitted to being born rich, and never really understood why...He enjoyed his wealth, when you were with John...He was just one of the boys....A FUN GUY. A NICE GUY....I always knew that if I ever needed something big or small I could call John and it would he would take care of it...or advise me on how to take care of it.

In 1966, at DePue, Johnny told me to be sure and chew that corn I was eating....We laughed like crazy people....Now, ...42 years later, I never eat corn without telling everyone to be sure and chew their corn....

Where you're at now John..You be sure an chew your corn.....

John bought the TED MAY plaque at DePue, my brother was bidding on it, until he saw John Riner Woods was too...Russ said, "If Johnny wants the plaque...I'm sure he will out bid me"

John once tried to give APBA a MILLION dollars, APBA couldn't figure out how to take it, so they never did...

John raced Outboards, OPC and Inboards...in great style..His boats were called Speculation...

Original Looper 1
10-17-2008, 12:09 PM
I just received word from my good friend, Johnny Dortch, that John Woods was killed yesterday in a tragic motorcycle accident.

John Riner Woods raced Quincy Welding engines for many years. I have many fond memories as a child of attending boat races with John. John was always a true gentleman to everyone he met. He lived in the St. Louis area.

More to follow.


Paul A Christner

10-17-2008, 01:46 PM
Enjoy the "JOURNEY'. It's way too short!

I'm glad I had him autograph a picture at the De Pue reunion.


10-17-2008, 02:44 PM
Johnny Woods passed away last night. I have lost a good friend, and boat racing has lost one its best friends.

From what Iím able to obtain from the St. Louis newspaper and what I heard from the HR person at Stout, he crashed his motorcycle head on into a 18 wheeler.

The paper said, ďat 1:08 p.m. today, [ October 16] John R. Woods, 68, of St. Louis, was seriously injuredĒ He was medevaced to a St. Louis hospital, where he died during the night.

His 69th birthday is today (Oct 17)

Thatís all I know, but his HR person has my phone # and will call me with any further information, when itís known. I will post here.


10-17-2008, 02:45 PM
I know everyone that atended the reunion in DePue are thankful for our time with Johnny. It was great to visit with him. You know how Johnny could make you feel like it was just a few years ago. Thanks for all the good times Johnny. RIP

10-17-2008, 03:22 PM
sorry u guys lost a good friend.

10-17-2008, 04:47 PM
I had the pleasure of seeing John after too many years in DePue last year. He will be missed and Lake Paradise has another friend to join the ones already there. Rest well John.........until the 3 minute gun.

Gene East
10-18-2008, 06:19 AM
Thanks Sam for adding John's picture eating an ear of corn at the 2007 Reunion.

Ron, don't you know he chewed that stuff well!

John and his brother Dave were loyal Quincy Welding customers for years. Their trailer was an exact copy of the QW trailer except it was painted BLUE.

John even drove Quincy Welding's boats during Jim Schoch's leave of absense.

While he was the wealthiest man most of us knew on a friend to freind basis, John never flaunted his wealth. We were all very comfortable being around him.

It was great seeing and talking with John at DePue. He knew my son was coming home from Iraq in a matter of days and he seemed as excited about that as I was.

While few if any of us BDOBR's were John's peer when comparing balance sheets, he accepted all of us as his peers as men and women.

John was fortunate that not all of his wealth was calculated in dollars and cents.

John was well respected by the racing family and he will be missed.

We'll all see you soon John!

Frank Volker
10-18-2008, 08:50 AM
John was a fierce competitor whose driving skills were matched only by his non-stop sense of humor and boundless enthusiasm. It was a pleasure to know him and to spend many hours in the pits with him.

Tim Chance
10-18-2008, 09:02 AM
I can't remember the first time I met John, the late 50's or early 60's I guess. I had the pleasure of talking to him at the reunion last year. I'm at a loss for words. Attached is from today's Post-Dispatch.

Master Oil Racing Team
10-18-2008, 09:33 AM
I was fortunate that my Dad wanted to travel outside of Texas when we first started so I was able to see Johnny Woods racing alky. I learned very quickly that he was one of the top drivers on the national circuit. I can remember those four cylinders loopers on his runabouts. I got to talk to him at length at DePue where I got him to sign the only surviving photo I had from his alky days. He really liked that picture and I promised to send him one. I had misplaced all the addresses I bought back from DePue for about three months, and it was on my list to do. Another reminder to everyone...(I'm the worst)....if you don't do it now maybe you never will. As Joe said yesterday, that was another good reason for having DePue. Johnny had a great time at DePue and stayed late. I got a dozen photos of him at DePue. Here is the first one. God bless you Johnny and your family.

Master Oil Racing Team
10-18-2008, 10:21 AM
A man of John's means would have many choices to make where he wanted to spend his time, and probably had a lot of people inviting him to different functions, but he chose to set aside the time for DePue to spend with his old boat racing friends. It was great that so many of them were there for him to share time with. I know all of his old friends that attended are sure glad they did. In the last two pics it appears that Jay and Catherine Root are really enjoying what John is trying to lay on Russ and in the next frame is Russ' response.

Master Oil Racing Team
10-18-2008, 04:43 PM
A few more pics from DePue.

10-18-2008, 05:04 PM
Originally Posted by Original Looper 1
I just received word from my good friend, Johnny Dortch, that John Woods was killed yesterday in a tragic motorcycle accident.

John Riner Woods raced Quincy Welding engines for many years. I have many fond memories as a child of attending boat races with John. John was always a true gentleman to everyone he met. He lived in the St. Louis area.

More to follow.


Paul A Christner

Thanks for the way in which you remembered John. He was a true gentlemen and I too have fond memories of him. I was a Freshman in High School when the Nationals were brought to Depue for the first time.

I believe that Seattle had bid on all of the nationals and money became an issue and Homer Kincaid brought the idea of the Nationals to the Lake Depue Preservation Association. They decided to go ahead and put them on.

Unfortunately, in 1961 there was this Hurricane called Carla. Carla decided to come ashore as a Cat 4 storm in Texas and headed north. The result was that the rain field came all the way north into Illinois and dumped enough water that they were pulling trailers off the beach in the middle of the night.

Having grown up in Depue and the Illinois Valley area, the boat races were a big thing even back then. I had an Uncle just down the street from the Catholic Church who I stayed with that weekend.

My first thing to accomplish was to get past the ticket booths and fencing put up, but I paid to get in the first day. After that I had a benefactor named John Woods.

John was pitted accross from the VFW with this huge trailer on the street and carrying everything up and down those dang stairs. John was running Mercs that weekend and I believe was in every racing class that weekend.

Like every kid who loved racing and wanted and was willing to pay the price for a long weekend with their hero's, I asked to help. John said are you sure you want to do this, my grin from ear to ear told the story.

John was very good to me and tried as he might to teach as he "commanded" the crew even at his tender age of about 20.. He was generous with his time and resources as I did not have to worry about paying to get in again. John had a lot of motor trouble and did not do as well then as he went on to do later in his career.

After that weekend, I was all about St. Louis, tried to get the St. Louis stations on the old piece garbage raido that we owned and thought about John a lot.

I was fortunate enough to see John at the reunion and thanked him for his kindness with me so many years ago. I am sure he did not remember me, but I sure remembered him. Later on at Depue he would come with those green decked hydros and i always enjoyed my memories.

Thanks Paul, and thank you John, we will see one another again.


Master Oil Racing Team
10-18-2008, 06:00 PM
That is a great story Ray. I could picture it exactly in my mind. Hurricane Carla was a very substantial and devastating storm. It did damage to most of all of the whole Texas coastline. We were 50 miles inland from Corpus Christi at our home in Alice about one hundred and twenty miles south from where it came ashore. I can remember sitting with my uncle watching the wind whip our oak trees around. Now you tell me that you remember Hurricane Carla too Ray, and it affected the Pro Nationals at DePue. I can see exactly where John was pitted, and I don't know if it was the same trailer I remember, but I can see it stacked full with boats, and a lots of iron hanging on the inside, with props decorating the wall. I can envision you helping to carry boats and motors up and down the ramp. I'll bet John is right now smiling at your memory.

Master Oil Racing Team
10-18-2008, 08:01 PM
Long after John went from racing alky outboards to inboard racing his image lived in program after program for many years. I don't know who took the pictures, but they made programs all over the midwest and south. I think this cover of the 1969 Pro Nationals features Johnny Woods inside of Jerry Simison and Dick Pond driving for Marshall Grant. It is hard to see the Y, and I don't recall how Johnny set in the boat, but those that remember can confirm or deny my guess. The D hydro flipping at Lakeland, Florida is John I believe. It's not the pic I was looking for that made all the programs, but I believe this is one of a sequence.

Ron Hill
10-18-2008, 09:57 PM
I talked to Jerry Hedlund (Gerry to some), today, he told the famous pictures of "WOODIES" going over backwards in his D Marchetti would be sent to me soon. Jerry assured me, when he and Ron returned from Wisconsin, that he'd get his daughter to send me the pictures.....

Johnny had told that being president of the National Pepper Association was a lot of work and had considered having me take his job....Maybe, I'll step up and take over the National Pepper Association (NPA)...As Johnny always wanted one strong NATIONAL association...

Johnny had told me he had nothing planned in October and wanted us to come and visit for the month.....We told Johnny, that next year we'd come for a week....

Chad and Corey had visited St. Louis last week on business...I told them to call Johnny that he'd want to see them...When Chad called me the other morning he just said, "Dad, I wish I'd called Johnny when I was in St. Louis..."

More on John Riner Woods from St. Louis Missoura later...

10-19-2008, 05:27 PM
I talked with Marshall Grant yesterday, and he told me that John was one of the first ones to purchase one of the Grant Fuel Tanks. He won D Hydro with it, and was disqualified. The referee said that the rule book did not say he could use it and John replied, "It did not say I couldn't use it!" After a heated arguement, John won the National Championship. Good Memories of you, John.

10-19-2008, 05:59 PM
Itís taken a few days for me to be able to write about John. It was such a loss to boat racing and to me personally. Iím also sorry the services were so soon, that I couldnít make it to them. When Ron started this site, I told him we needed a category called ďGentlemen Boat Racers.Ē Certainly at the head of this list is John Riner Woods.

I always say we were lifelong friends, but thatís a typical Russhillian exaggeration. It hasnít quite been fifty years. Once again, thanks Ron et al for the De Pue Reunion. We all got to see John eat corn. My picture in the first post here is what all super rich people doóeat corn on the cob with a bunch of old boat racers.

John and I first met in about 1960, at an Outboard (Pro) Commission meeting. We became instant friends. We both even had wives named Judy. I have had dinner with him and Judy in upstate Michigan every year for the last few years and was looking forward to visiting him at his Ozark farm and seeing his railroad.

His railroad is the Arborway, T. T. & Northwestern. Look it up: www.arborwayrailroad.com.

Even though we only see each other yearly and trade a few emails, and our friendship has had a few long term hiatuses, I will miss him. Weíve had some fun experiences together.

Rex Hall Jr.
10-29-2008, 06:32 AM
I was priveledged to have been a friend of Johns, and even more so to have been able to build some of the Konig motors he ran. I am sorry that I could not attend the Funeral, as I was in Florida for the World Championships. My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to the Woods family.

Rex Hall

Master Oil Racing Team
11-01-2008, 08:36 PM
Johnny Dortch called me a couple of days ago asking about the picture of Johnny Woods eating corn...and chewing it;)...that was taken at the DePue Reunion. He wanted to give a copy of that to John's wife Judy. Johnny also requested that the full uncropped picture was made. Johnny was on the right side. John Riner Woods and Johnny Dortch were friends. As friends go, sometimes they drift apart as time goes on, but they remain friends. So it was with them. Johnny recalled how great their own reunion was at DePue.

It was Johnny that got John Riner Woods into alky racing. He was in his third year in college. Johnny didn't say when it was John was in college and he was talking about so much I didn't interrupt him to ask him where. John and Judy were going together then. John used to come to Johnny's house to watch and help work on motors in the basement. John ate a lot of peanut and jelly sandwiches there and at college.

After two or three years of working with John, his racing and his motors, Johhny Dortch introduced John to O.F. Christner, and from then he sent his motors to Quincy Welding.

We tracked the photo in question down to Russ Hill and will get it to Johnny for presentation to Judy Woods.

Ron Hill
11-06-2008, 11:31 AM
Carol McMillan (http://www.boatracingfacts.com/forums/member.php?u=6870)
Hi Ron,

I'm helping out a friend who has no computer. He wanted to add his condolences for John R. Woods. Here is what he wrote.

One of the saddest moments of my life was when Kenny Nicholas called and told me that John was in a bad accident and was killed.

John and I go way back before he and Judy got married when he was going to school in Ohio.

I did most of the Merc engines when he first started racing. I'm the one who introduced him to O.F. Christner.

John and I drifted apart, but remained good friends until his death. Judy was along all the time and then along came the kids
I'll always remember his quick wit and his love of life.
God Bless John and his Family.

The picture on this website is of John and me in DePue at the 2007 Old Timers Reunion.

His friends forever,
Johnny (Y99) and Liz Dortch (Overland, MO)

Bunker Hill
11-06-2008, 01:41 PM
There was never a day in my life that I didn't know who John Riner Woods, Saint Louis Missoura was. I never really knew how close John was to my family, specifically to my dad, Russ Hill, Jr. When my dad called me with the news, regarding Jonh's death, he was as shaken as he was when he called me about my own mother's. Last night at dinner, 11/05/08, my dad was eating corn and he gleamed with pride because HE had taken the pictures of John at Depue, John's passing was a great loss to many more than Russ Hill, but I think few took the loss any harder


Ron Hill
11-12-2008, 10:56 AM
Gerry Hedlund took these pictures of Johnny!

David Weaver
11-12-2008, 02:27 PM

Any idea of the date of this string of photo's?

I guess PRO outboards have been experiencing spectacular blowover for over 40 years.

Ron Hill
11-14-2008, 10:19 AM
Carl Meyers owned the "A" Looper I ran, in 1966...Carl's son was a Rhoads Scholar at Oxford about that time. When he finished at Oxford he moved to Florida to run a church.

Carl went to visit he son in Florida the year after this picture was taken. I'm going to say this was winter of 1966-67.

I do know that Carl went to Lakeland to the races and enjoyed his stay with O.F. Christner, John Riner Woods and Walt Cortouris...

Carl's stories of Lakeland are still retold in our household anytime we get to talking about funny stuff.

As Carls tells it, Johnny woods put his "B" Looper on a Collins runabout that was designed for an "A"... O.F. told Woods, you can run the boat, but WHEN YOU GO SPLAT, NOT "IF", WHEN YOU GO SPLAT, he said, you'll own the boat....

I guess Johnny got a fair start and on Lakeland's big 8 bouy course was doing well and moving toward the front......when on about lap two Johnny went "Spat". Blew the sides and deck off that new Collins runabout... Everyone laughed like hell, no one was hurt, Woods got himself a new Collins boat.....

Carl came back saying, "Everyone told him he'd go SPLAT." AND HE DID!!!

I think it was about that time when my brother statrted telling me stories about John Riner Woods from St. Louis MASSURA (Missouri)...Seems when my brother was trying to get APBA into the 1950's, if was the 60's....my brother was Senior Vice Priesident of APBA.... Which in those days meant your next step as president....But with my brother living in California, out there by Japan and all....many thought change wasn't what was needed...

Anyway, about that time, Russ and Johnny Woods became friends. Woods wanted to give APBA a million dollars.... Seems he wanted to set up some kind of a trust, that upon his death APBA would have a little trust fund....

Flash BACK a few years...

Johnny came from St. Louis and was the youngest Senior Parnter of E.F. Hutton. His grandfather had bought him a seat on the New York Stock Exchange for his 21 st birthday.

He raced Sid Carft Hydros and DeSilva runabouts... seems he once had a six boat trailer that his wife wrecked going to Lakland, not her fault...Johnny just ordered six new boats and went on racing...

At DePue Hank Green and Johnny Woods gave a high point trophy that was six feet high...Johnny Woods, Y-100 was FLASHY. He gave the ABC camerman a ride in his D Hydro at the NOA Nationals when it was cover by Wide World of Sports...Johnny loved everything about life...............

I think it was his LUST FOR LIFE that worried many in APBA when he anted to give them money. Often, the one with the most GOLD runs things, though I doubt John Riner Woods ever wanted to run APBA. Hell, he could have bought with his personal check!

APBA never figured out how to take the money, though my BROTHER KEPT SAYING TTFM...Take The _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Money....I made a rough calculation yesterday, thinking his offer on one million in 1966 would have been 10 million today. Anyway, it is only money...

I think the Lakland crashes and two OPC crashes, one with him at Havasu and one with brother Dave at Parker, made John move to inboards.

John raced Jones hydros, in the 225 class for 20 years. Many of those years were filmed by John's film company, and made into movies for each year John Raced...John sent me a copy of one year's racing, and sorry to say, I lost it...

I plan to contact John's brother soon, and see if we can get copies of John's racing life that is on 16MM films...

I'd bought a new 1968 Chevy wagon. Ordered special with afour speed and HP 350 engine. I'd put mag wheel on her and Michalin tires...In California, 1968, black wall tires were "COOL"...
Johnny came to the 1968 APBA Convention in L.A. California and wanted to hit some "TOPLESS" BARS...and see the "CITY"...

I tell John at the hotel, I'll go get my car and pick you up in front of the hotel....John gets in and says, "You got a new car with re-caps on it?" Huh? I say??? He says, "They are painted black......and you ain't got you white walls...." I say, "This is California and black walls IS COOL, in fact, these are white walls turned around..."

We get somewhere to a "TOPLESS" bar, and Woods gets out, crawls under my car to see if I've really got white walls turned around...Whatever was going on at the APBA convention that day didn't matter as we missed it...

We ended up staying at my girl friends house that night and her dog ate John's socks...We head in the APBA Convention the next day and John is wearing dress pants and dress shoes, and no socks...

In those days, the APBA Convention was pretty much APBA Officials.....I remember at the Saturday banquet, they announced the names of all 1968 APBA National Champions and ask them to stand up....After the names were read, I was the only one standing...Seemed strange, no National Champions at a Boat Racing convention....

John and I e-mailed often.....Never, ever did we not end our e-mail without reminding each other to chew our corn and use lots of pepper on everything. John, had wanted to take me slowly to the top of the National Pepper Association....With his passing, I may need to take the big step sooner.

The National Pepper Association is an old organization, I was surprised that John Riner Woods was elected Predsident at the age of 65...I'll be 65 next year, maybe I will be accepted as their new president...as it was John's wishes...

ADD: Our e-mails were mostly about his train but he was helping me with my propeller museum, of which I will continue working on!

LAST ADD: John's Personal Railroad

www.arborwayrailroad.com (http://www.arborwayrailroad.com/) This railroad is all on John's property. I always figured, once he really got it finished,he'd donate it to the state of Missouri....