Roostertails Unlimited: [1973]

Ch.1 A Race
Ch.2 A Little History
Ch.3 The Evolution Revolution
Ch.4 The Principle
Ch.5 The Power Plant
Ch.6 Building a Hydroplane
Ch.7 The Crew
Ch.8 The Men With the Money
Ch.9 What's an Unlimited?
Ch.10 Preparing the Race
Ch.11 The Rulebook
Ch.12 The Spectator
Ch.13 First You Get Into the Cockpit
Appendix A Unlimited Class Speed Records
Appendix B National High Point Champions
Appendix C Major Races

Imagine a three ton beast hurtling across the water at speeds of about 180 miles per hour -- half flying!

Imagine the throaty scream of powerful airplane engines that generate close to 2500 horsepower and can be heard for miles around.

Suppose you were in the cockpit, comfy in your padded driver's seat, as you take the thirty foot long hull careening through a turn ...with little or no power steering!

This is an Unlimited Hydroplane! Smoothly gliding over the surface of the water, a high plume of spray arching into the air like a geyser marking her path. But when the water is rough she bounces from side to side, up and down, shaking and rattling her driver until his bones ache and his body is bruised from being tossed about in his seat.

It is a dangerous sport. Many brave men have been killed at its expense; millions of dollars have been spent in the pursuit of, perhaps, a few thousand in prize winnings.

But they still go on ...the drivers, the owners, the crews, the promoters -they still put their hydros into the lion's den, they continue to spend their money to go fastest. It's a contagious thing - seemingly meaningless at first glance but when one has seen them, touched one, sensed the excitement of race day, appreciated the hours of labor to make a competitor or have simply witnessed a roostertail, they will thank those that made the thrill possible.

Few sports can draw upwards of 200,000 spectators for a single event, but Unlimiteds do so in every section of the nation. It has everything ...the speed of hockey, the excitement of a football game, or the danger of auto racing, the pageantry of a horse race and, of course, disappointment.

It is a technical sport. Mechanics that are experts on a thousand things, all having to do with engines. Builders who can construct to withstand the high strains of fierce competition and heavy seas. Designers that have the ideas of how to get that proverbial extra mile an hour on the opponent. And with technology comes confusion and misunderstanding or a wondrous appreciation of how those things ever work.

Some call them "thunderboats", others refer to them as the "big boats", and still others lovingly call them "the hydroplane", the queen of the hydro classes ...the epitome. Nearly every driver who has climbed into the seat of a racing runabout, a little outboard hydro or a larger inboard, has dreamed of someday piloting an Unlimited.

(Reprinted from Roostertails Unlimited by Andy Muntz, 1973)

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Leslie Field, 2000