Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Miss DeSoto V

John Bohannan.  Your Guide to Boating Power or Sail.  Barnes & Noble, 1965, 1969.
Miss DeSoto was built by Henry Lauterbach, and was piloted by George "Buddy" Byers, Jr. to the World Straightaway Mile Speed Record at New Martinsville, West Virginia on September 27, 1958.

Byers went on to further success in 1965 in Miss Madison (the only community-owned unlimited hydroplane in the world, donated to the town in 1960  by industrialist Samuel F. Dupont, and the subject of the 2005 film, Madison) and ultimately in his own boat, Chrysler Queen, in which he set a world record for 7-litre class hydroplanes of 168.2 mph.

Writing in an article in the Zephyr about the 2003 Madison Regatta, Terry Hogan  had this to say:

"However, there was a kindred spirit to the "Obsession" in the wooden "Chrysler Queen" hydroplane. This beautifully restored 7-liter boat once held the world record for its class. Not surprisingly, given her name, she is powered by a Chrysler V-8 engine, mounted directly in front of the driver. It is an open cockpit boat, and the eight exhaust pipes are only a couple of feet in front of the driver.

In this case, the vintage hydroplane was driven by a vintage hydroplane racer. According to his daughter, Buddy Byers is 75 years old. Each year, the family thinks that it will be the last year he drives, but a new summer comes, and with a little help squeezing into a snug driver's uniform, a snug life vest, and a tight cockpit, Buddy is back on the water again. He apparently doesn't tire of doing what he loves to do. He once drove the unlimited hydroplanes, including the local favorite, "Miss Madison". He suffered his own crash one year, resulting in the limited use of one arm. But Buddy was there, running the "Chrysler Queen" on the Ohio in 2003."

We should all be so gutsy in our senior years!

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