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Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum

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Oh boy Oberto hydroplane. One of the boats used in the Madison movie.

Not long after Ann and I met in 2011 we decided we wanted to visit the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum in Kent, Washington (It’s only a few miles from mom and dad’s place). She’d grown up with hydroplane racing in the tri-cities and race weekend was a yearly event at my grandmother’s house, so we both had a sentimental attachment to them. And though we’ve traveled all over, we’ve never found the time to make it to the museum, until yesterday.

Joining us on this mini-adventure were my mother, my aunt Marilyn and uncle Phil. I knew they would enjoy the museum, because mom and Marilyn grew up near Seward Park and had a yearly view from their back porch of Lake Washington’s hydro races. They had fond memories of the yearly races as kids and young adults, telling me that at the time the races were as important to the city of Seattle as the Seahawks are today. It was a BIG deal!

The Hyrdroplane museum was launched in 1983 to honor the history of the race boats and is the only museum in the nation dedicated to powerboat racing. It started in a small location that I’m told wasn’t too glamorous. At some point the museum was able to move into it’s current facility, which doubles as a museum/research facility and restoration shop.


Museum entrance

Sure enough, as soon as we got inside the museum, mom, Marilyn and Phil were rattling off names of boats I never knew: Such Crust, Short Circuit, Miss Tahoe, Tri-Tomic, Coral Reef, and others.


The museum’s lobby. At the bottom of the photo is an Allison motor. Originally costing $14k, it was sold as surplus equipment for $350. No wonder boat racers used the motor!

Volunteers at the museum offered to guide us around and tell stories. Mom, Marilyn and Phil offered plenty additional stories, so it was a rich experience for Ann and I. The museum had a number of hydroplanes familiar to me, including Atlas Van Lines, Oh Boy Oberto, Miss Budweiser, Slo-Mo-Shun-III, Miss Wahoo, and a few others.


There are also a large number of mini models called the pinhead collection that had been painstakingly made.


the pinhead collection

So, if you have fond memories of hydroplanes, this is a place to visit. The one thing I would have liked to see is an early history or explanation of how hydro racing began. If you are interested in learning more about the early history of boat racing, it seems Leslie Field’s website provides a great deal of information.



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