1977-81 APBA Racing 

Ultra High Performance Boats

Jay Cox and I park our boats at the Allison factory and touch base with Darris and Paul before heading to the APBA Closed course Nationals in Eufaula in Aug., 1977. Nr. 853 was marathon and closed course EP champion that year, and missed US 1 by a few points when the powerhead vibrated loose later in Sept. in St. Petersburg. Always retorque the powerhead bolts after a motor inspection!  I had two first rate EP powerheads that I rebuilt twice per year. After a looper ‘s cylinders get .002’ out of round you have to rebore to get maximum compression, honing won’t cut it. The piston rings were filed-down oversize, hand fitted. To hit 65 mph set up for closed course was the holy grail in 1977, but was easy for me after 1982. In 1977-78, my motor parts were sponsored by Red Wing Boat Co. in Houston.

Darris and Paul squatting at  Eufaula. Paul told Jay “I wish he’d get a better start” after I started 7th and drove blind in Steve Hancock’s rooster tail through the first turn. After less than a lap I was in first place, a dream (since 1961 at Nashville) come true.

Joe Burgess’ EP boat. Joe ran big Orange Marine in Nashville and (mainly with chuck Rutherford’s sponsorship) drove in every class. Chuck was Paul’s cardiologist. Paul told me that as a little boy Joe followed him around at Gallatin races. He died around 1983 testing a tunnel that he didn’t want to drive. He was one of the finest V-bottom drivers ever. Others were Louis Collins, Kenny Shaw and Alan Stokes.

Jay Cox, whom I knew since we were kids. Jay was also my first rate V-bottom driver. He taught me how to straightedge a boat bottom. We spent many wonderful hours together breathing way too much bondo dust at the Louisville factory and at his house  between Maryville and the Smokies. Paul always rolled up his sleeves and helped whenever Jay, Darris and I were working on a boat bottom at the factory. Jay was one of the great horse traders of all times. His favorite position wasn’t driving, but with his foot on a trailer ‘selling’ something.

“Smokin’ Joe” at 2nd race of the 1977 season at Lake Dallas, before (accidentally) bumping and passing Louis Collins (that’s his wake in the photo) in a turn. I bought the boat from Louis (the motor from Gene Thibodaeaux), and I’d probably rather throw a bull by the tail than try to pass Louis in a turn.  I won that one, and was never plagued by blow out.

Fred Schoellkopf sponsored me in Mod VP from 1978-1981. Here, we’re somewhere in Arizona on the way to Havasu for the 4 hour marathon, which I loved to drive. George Laycock and Fred co-drove a second Evinrude/Allison. I ran third, behind Kenny Shaw and alan Stoker. Kenny and I had factory sponsored extra cubic inch motors, Alan built his own (and it was better !). Actually, I had factory sponsorship in EP, whenver I needed parts I called my two supporters at Evinrude Service and they shipped them.

My daughters Katie and Marianne beside the still bungeed motor after Havasu. I had enough bungee to offset torque that it was hell to turn the motor while idling, but   I didn’t have to struggle with the wheel at 84 mph. I didn’t win, so Evinrude took the motor back!

Life after boat racing (I’m in the middle, 2005 in Norway)

Thanks Joe McCauley