Because You Can NEVER Have Too Much Classic Hydros, [VIDEO]
It’s one of the most attention-grabbing attractions of the Columbia Cup, the old piston boats.
In case you didn’t know, the roots of hydroplane racing stem from World War II surplus equipment. In the late 1940’s and especially 1950’s hydro or water racers came up with the idea of sticking old aircraft engines in the boats, and turning loose unbelievable power.
The 1980 Miss Budweiser and the 1973 Pay N’ Pak seen in our video were powered by such motors. The Bud’s was a 3,000 horsepower Rolls Royce Griffin engine, which was used in British fighters such as the Hawker Typhoon in the last years of the conflict. The Pak had an Allison engine,which was used in P-38 fighters and initially in the P-51 Mustang until it too was replaced by a Merlin.
Thousands of them were available, but over the years, technology snuck up on the boats and now they’re powered by turbines. Such piston motors are hard to find now, only the U-3 Cooper’s Express has an 8-cylinder inline (straight line) motor. We recall reading a story online about how thousands of old surplus Allison and other engines built for the war were dumped in a river in the Southwest and even the ocean. With jet fighters taking over, they were no longer needed. The motors, many still in their crates, are now home for the fish.
The British newspaper The Daily Mail did a story about how millions of dollars of equipment was dumped in the Pacific because it was ‘too expensive’ to bring home.
But for those who remember, the Columbia Cup and other hydro races almost made you go deaf. And it was an ear ringing we all loved to this day. It’s our favorite part of the weekend, watching these restored boats do their thing.
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