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Thread: Tonight's history is on Harry Bartolomei

  1. #1
    Administrator Ron Hill's Avatar
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    Default Tonight's history is on Harry Bartolomei

    Tonight's history is on Harry Bartolomei. The first part is thanks to Ralph DeSilva (Ralph just celebrated his 99 birthday on June 1, 2021 - next year he can get started on his 2nd hundred) The last part is from Ron Hill who knew and drove for Harry at one time. Some overlap in the stories but still interesting. Alan Ishii was 13 years old when Harry and Bill Rucker had their fist fight at a boat race. Alan being very young had not been exposed to boat racing fist fights. Fortunately they are rare.

    From Ralph DeSilva - Ralph DeSilva’s opening comment - “One of the most outstanding boat race drivers.” Harry started racing in the late 50’s/early 60’s. He did not know much about boat racing when he started. He bought a Hal Kelly runabout and ran a Mercury “B" for the engine. After several flips he bought a DeSilva “B” runabout. Harry did not believe in backing off in the turns or straight-away for any reason. You win a lot of boat races that way and you also do a lot of swimming until everything comes together. Harry drove to get the most from his equipment and was often criticized for running so far in front. His answer was in two part (1) to get the most from his equipment (2) when he faced Jerry Waldman in a race there would be zero room to take it easy. Harry never did beat Jerry Waldman in the hydro. Harry did have multiple wins in the runabout.

    Harry graduated as an electrical engineer then worked for Gene Autry at his TV station for many years.

    During one of the Johnny Cash tours in California Marshall Grant went to visit Harry with hopes to buy his CRR prop. The offer was several hundred dollars above the going price and Harry refused to sell.

    Harry was a very bright guy with ability to work on his engines, boats, props and testing. He would get up at 5:00 AM - 6:00 AM and go test by himself on a body of water north of the airport where the noise was not a problem.(something that should not be considered today) He was truly dedicated to boat racing and when he went to a race he was prepared and won a lot of races. Bobby Parish was one of the few that could beat Harry at his level of competition. Harry took a lot of chances in his younger years driving racing boats.

    Harry was chairman of the Pro commission in 1985 and possibly other years. I do remember one commission meeting where there were questions on what could be done on the pro engines. Harry did not want any restrictions and his comment was “ I want to get in there and grind”.

    Harry’s father immigrated from Italy. Harry could speak both English and Italian. Harry made several trips to Italy and got along fine with the people so much so that he sent his son to Italy for schooling. Harry would travel to Germany to visit Dieter Konig. Harry commented on Dieter Konig was a guy that did not take a lot of advise. One of the issues with the Konig engine at the time was it produced more HP than the competitive engines but did not produce it fast enough for closed course competition. When Dieter Konig came on one of several trips to DePue he then understood the situation. Harry did become the the west coast Konig dealer. Not a very profitable operation it just gave him the advantage of the newest improvements on the Konig engines.

    Harry’s racing started slowing down during his got into the age bracket of 50’s an 60’s. He spent a lot of money boat racing and time was more focused on making money in his late years. He quit the TV station work and went became a broker for stocks and bonds. Starting late in life he had his good and bad years. Those that start their money making careers earlier in life try and get the mistakes out of the way while you are younger and can recover faster.

    At this time we do not have his date of birth or the date of his passing.

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    Last edited by Ron Hill; 09-23-2021 at 07:57 PM.
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  2. #2
    Team Member Master Oil Racing Team's Avatar
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    Harry was a good friend of my Dad and I. I served with Harry on the Pro Racing Commission, and he was always a good ally on what my Dad and I believed in. My last race was in Berlin 1980. When I went there, I knew it was my last race. For business reasons I had to quit racing, and so when I came back my Dad already had someone lined up to buy our equipment. Harry bought everything we had except our tool box, and my Gentex and Premier helmet which I left in Berlin, hoping to go back one day.

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