F97 - Roman Candle

266 hydroplane designed by Jack Colcock.

Owner/driver - Gerry Davidson

I am looking for information on Roman Candle, a 266 hydro. It is a Jack Colcock design  and was probably built in the Seattle area. It was owned by Lou Nuta Jr. of Miami, Florida from the early 60's through the mid 70's and raced in the Southeast, Division 5. She ran a 265 fuel injected Chevy and later a 302 Chevy. She may have been raced by David Irwin during the 70's. He leased it from Nuta. It's possible that the Roman Candle is connected to "Chris III" or "Kelp Kutta", both raced in the Seattle area. Any information would be appreciated, please contact:

Gerry Davidson




On 5/17/2008 the crew from Our Saturday Morning Gatherings trekked over to help Gerry move 'Roman Candle" from it's trailer into his basement shop, where Gerry will start the restoration process. He had to remove part of the basement wall/foundation to get the boat inside, but Gerry did a nice job and the wall was already removed when all the child laborers arrived. We managed to successfully lift the hydro off the Jeff Magnuson show trailer, carry it to the hole, slide the hydro down the rigging, and finally place the hydro on dollies - ready for Gerry to start the restoration of Roman Candle.




During the summer of 2009, the original 302 Chevy motor was rebuilt by Leo and his crew at R&L Racing Engines in Dover, NH. The decision was made to keep the high compression and the Hilborn fuel injection system, and the crew at R&L created another masterpiece - stunning!





Also during the summer of 2009, restoration work on the hydro continued by Gerry Davidson and in the fall, Roman Candle was finally pulled from Gerry's basement workshop. The hydro was then hauled down to Florida for project completion during the winter and spring of 2009.




The restoration completed, Roman Candle made her debut at the 2009 Tavares Regatta in March. Hydroplane racing legend Tom D'Eath was the first to take Roman Candle out on the course for a test run. Everything ran well except for a fluctuating engine oil pressure. The old "original" oil pan was determined to be the culprit, so Leo from R&L Racing Engines trekked down to Florida and fabricated a custom/baffled oil pan that fixed the oil pressure problem. The hydro then ran extremely well all weekend long. The sun was shinning, the temps were warm, the food and drink were plentiful and new friendships were formed - a typical vintage gathering!





In the words of Gerry Davidson:

She was finished in early March and after three test sessions, made her debut at the third annual Tavares, FL Classic Raceboat Regatta. It was a great thrill to me to bring this Colcock designed and built boat back to life after 35 years. Iím taking my time getting used to her and gradually getting her speed up. She is very willing, but Iím going easy while I build up seat time.


I restored her to her 1968-1973 appearance. She had three looks over her racing life. The 302 Chevy was installed in 1970-71 as the rules allowed. The engines were built by David Irwin and his father and always made a lot of power. They ran methanol and I made one concession to run 112 octane racing fuel to make life a little simpler. Iím really enjoying the Hilborn Injection which was originally shipped in 1958. Awfully smooth power. All the mechanicals had to have major restoration, especially aluminum parts because she ran in salt water a lot. I kept all parts exactly as they were. I plan to run her again at one or two vintage events this summer and of course Wolfeboro, NH in September.

Many thanks to Gerry Davidson for sharing this very special project, and watch for Roman Candle this summer at our Wolfeboro Vintage Race Boat Regatta

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