Two from the Past [Miss
Michigan and Guided Missile]
By David Greene
Miss Michigan (1)
(1) Tony Bugeja
(2-4) David Greene
(5) Mark Grattan Collection
In 1948 Harris McBride, a Detroit tool and die maker, joined forces with Bill Goeschal, and A.C. Smith to begin construction of an unlimited hydroplane. McBride, who was in his early thirties at the time, had been drawn to the sport through the racing activities of Dan Arena and his Miss Golden Gate and Morlan Visel, who raced the Hurricane IV. At the time the construction was begun Harris had been experimenting with model boats and it was his experience with these boats that guided his design for the unlimited entry which was to be known as the Miss Michigan.
The Miss Michigan was begun in the winter of 1948-49 and took approximately 6 months to complete. McBride was helped in his construction by various friends. Unfortunately when the craft had about reached completion he was taken ill and spent several months in the hospital. This and other events postponed the Miss Michiganís debut several months from June, before the Gold Cup, to the Labor Day Silver Cup.
When the Miss Michigan made her debut in the 1949 Silver Cup she was unique in that she was the first twin Allison entry to make a start in a bona fide unlimited event. The Allisons were mounted in the hull side by side and drove twin propellers. Harris McBride personally constructed the gear boxes which were attached to each engine. This was a departure from the division of responsibility between McBride and his partner Bill Goeschal since Goeschal generally was concerned with the boat's hardware whereas McBride had the responsibility for hull construction.
The blue and gold craft used a three point design and was regarded as a prop rider since the stern of the boat could be seen clearly off the water when running. The hull was heavy at 10,000 lbs. and measured 34 feet in length with a 12 foot beam. The Miss Michigan threw a twin roostertail off her double propeller configuration. Even more unique was the fact that one roostertail was higher than the other.
In 1950 the Miss Michigan effort was abandoned by Bill Goeschal and his partner A.C. Smith. Harris McBride remained in Unlimited Racing however and began construction on his next hull which was to be known as the Guided Missile. Again he was aided by friends in his hull building enterprise. The Guided Missile was completed in time for the 1951 Labor Day regattas in Detroit.
Guided Missile was a single step hull rather than a three pointer since designer McBride wanted to try something different. The boat measured 28 feet long with an approximate 10 foot beam. The Guided Missile was substantially lighter than the Miss Michigan at 4000 lbs. and carried a single Allison engine. The boat, which switched to a double tail fin after first utilizing a standard tail fin, was campaigned exclusively in Detroit as was the Miss Michigan due to Harris McBride's lack of extensive funds to run his boats. The boat was painted red and along with Dodge's My Sweetie, was one of the last step boats built for Unlimited competition.
(Reprinted from the Unlimited NewsJournal, February 1982)
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