- The story begins...
William E. John III
1946 Gar Wood, hull number 7115, modified
single aft cockpit,
modified to a shingled/stepped hydroplane
Honduras mahogany hull with Spanish Cedar steps
Chevrolet 510 cubic inch marine motor, 630 HP
Prop is a Menkens high rake 3-blade, 13x17
Tacked at 75 mph on GPS at the 2004 Detroit Gold Cup
Obsession video - let it
load & crank it up!!!
race boats and boat racing are in my blood, and our
fifth reproduction project will be a reproduction of my grandfather's Sally Ann Jr
a 225 hydroplane that was an APBA national champion.
My grandfather, William Edgar John Sr. was a
naval architect, owned a shipyard in Rye,
New York, raced in several inboard
classes, and was inducted into the APBA's Honor Squadron in 1955, two years after my other hero, Gar Wood. My
father, William Edgar John Jr. raced
International-One-Design sailboats on Long Island Sound where he was Fleet Chairman for many years and
was the first President of the IOD class, based out of the Larchmont Yacht Club
where he was very active.
My grandmother was also active in the early days of
power boat racing in this country. She actually drove and won quite a few APBA
boat races, and I have two large trophies that she won in 1914. Both my grandfather and
grandmother are in the above photo.
alas, my mother moved us kids up to Lake Winnipesaukee when I was very young,
and I spent my early summers at my grandmother's on Governors Island. She had a
Century Coronado with u-shaped dock, canvas cover and electric winch - very
cool. I also worked at the Goodhue Boat Yard in Glendale - on the gas dock - the
best job I ever had. Speaking of landmarks, Tup Goodhue and I played in a rock band
"The Fugitives" and we were the house band at Irwins Winnipesaukee
Gardens during the summers of 1965 and 1966. Tup and John Goodhue
used to race in the marathon water ski races on Lake Winnipesaukee, and I can
remember the Tommy Bartlett Water Ski Shows on Paugus Bay and Boat-O-Rama at the
Weirs. These are just some of my precious memories of Lake Winnipesaukee - that
make it a very special place for me.
many years later while visiting on vacation during the summer of 1979, I read a Jerry
Harper ad in The Laconia Citizen for a 1948 Gar Wood with a Chrysler Hemi
motor. I remembered my Grandfather talking about Gar Wood and his race boats, so
I went to see the boat and bought it on first sight. My life has not been
the same since.
Now many years later, I still have my beloved
still trying to make it go faster, and still enjoy giving boat rides, especially
Vintage Race Boat Circuit. In fact, at
the Detroit APBA Gold Cup vintage
event in 1999 I gave Tom Pakradooni, then APBA
Jersey Speed Skiff national champion, a ride in my Obsession,
and he was telling me stories of my boat when it raced in the
marathon water ski events on Lake Winnipesaukee back in the
1950/60's. What a great boat ride that was, driving my Gar
Wood Speedster on the historic Detroit APBA Gold Cup race course.
These gentleman's race boats were well built to compete
on the rough water conditions on the St. Lawrence
Seaway, in the 1000 Islands area of upstate New York.
"Obsession" is of typical, one-design
race boats produced by the famous Gar Wood boat builders in
Detroit, Michigan during the 1920's-1940's. The motor was placed
forward, under it's long foredeck, followed by a single aft
cockpit for the driver and the required riding mechanic. Gar
Wood built a fleet of these speedsters for Edward Noble
and his friends to race on Sunday afternoons in the 1000 Islands
area of upstate New York. Gar Wood also built many beautiful production
runabouts and special-order race boats until 1947, when they
Room for only the driver and his riding mechanic,
tells us of this Speedster's racing heritage. "Obsession" is well
known on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and has
been campaigned on the
Vintage Race Boat Circuit
since 1992, running in major events at
Detroit, Madison, Valleyfield, Buffalo, Clayton, Lake
George, Valleyfield and Wolfeboro.
The original power in the boat was a Chrysler
Crown, 6 cylinder with 155 horsepower. By the time I purchased the boat in 1979,
the previous owner had already replaced the original motor with a beautiful 1957, 392 cubic inch Chrysler
Hemi, and actually raced the boat in the marathon water ski races in the
early 1960's on Lake Winnipesaukee. To strengthen the hull, the previous owner also decked-over the
center section of the utility hull, and essentially made it into a much stronger runabout design
with fore and aft cockpits.
I ran the boat for several years with that Chrysler Hemi and with that runabout
design. But the hull was getting tired, the stem needed complete
replacement, and the transom also needed complete replacement. So in 1983/1984, I worked with
Harvard Forden to lengthen, reshape and rebuild the boat into a rear cockpit,
Gar Wood Speedster design of 21 feet. We used top quality Honduras Mahogany and we built it real strong,
to run at speed with the Chrysler Hemi.
The Gar Wood speedster design proved to be very successful, and I later replaced
the tired 392 Chrysler Hemi with a George Johnson, Crusader/Chevrolet 454 cubic
inch marine motor. This motor has run very well for many years
and is still in the boat today, after several rebuilds. All the
engine work has been done by Leo and his crew at
R&L Engines in
Dover, NH and after many years on running on the
Vintage Race Boat Circuit
this boat is dialed in!
the last rebuild of the motor, the plan was to build a new Chevrolet 502/502
marine crate motor, but
then Leo at R&L Engines
option. We talked a lot about the time honored method of getting more power from a motor,
to overbore the cylinders and increase the stroke of the crankshaft.
The result is called a stroker motor, and Leo convinced
me to use my seasoned Crusader 454 marine block and build a 510 cubic inch
motor. R&L Engines built a batch of them and they all dynode between 625 and 650 HP.
Stoker motors also produce lots of torque, right in the midrange, perfect for a
vintage race boat. So we spent a lot of time and money into good machine work.
We over-bored the
cylinders .o6o inches, balanced the stoker crankshaft 4.375
inch and breathed more horsepower into the Brodix aluminum cylinder heads and
tuned the ports of the matching Brodix aluminum intake
manifold. We also used the best components, including a custom roller cam with roller rocker arms,
and a complete MSD marine ignition system. This reverse
rotation marine motor has a low 9.5 compression ratio and runs on 93
octane fuel through the modified Holley 830cfm carburetor. A marine
bell housing connects the modified Borg Warner direct drive transmission.
speed prop is a Menkens 13 x 17 with a super cup and lots of rake that lifts the
bow at speed. The rev limiter is set at 5,400
preserve the motor and to get another season before the next rebuild. This motor is a bullet and the sound through the IMCO exhaust headers
and the 4 inch side pipes is
was tracked at 75 mph on GPS at the 2004 Detroit APBA Gold Cup.
Obsession video - let it
load & crank it up!!!
Page 2 - The new stepped bottom
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