by Sevrign Coleman
Just a short drive off the I-5, #152 exit, located at 5917 South 196th Street in Kent Washington, is the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum. You can’t miss it, as legendary driver Chip Hanauer’s classic blue and white U-787 sits roadside with its nose pointed towards the front door, like a big beautiful beacon.
Arriving for our tour, we were met by Eugene “Skip” Young Jr., a retired raceboat driver who serves as historian and promoter for the museum. Skip, a City of Seattle Achievement mayoral award winner, raced the E-200 Hydro Red from 1981-1984, at Lake Sammamish, Lake Tapps, and other waterways. His chosen class of inboard raceboats routinely reached speeds in excess of 75 mph; although Skip has broke 100 mph in other watercrafts.
The museum itself is full of historic hydroplanes and raceboats, some in the process of being restored, others looking like they’re ready to pounce! From the smaller flat and v-bottom runabouts, to record-shattering behemoths like the Miss Budweiser, you’re sure to find something to awe and inspire you. Lining the walls you’ll find literature, uniforms, helmets, trophies, and other memorabilia, dating back more than 50 years, honoring the sport and the people who made it great.
“…Unlimited hydroplanes are the fastest and most spectacular racing category. Powered by 3,000 horsepower Chinook helicopter engines, jet fuel pushes the turbines to the max as the boats glide over the
surface at speeds in excess of 200 MPH.”
The museum itself grew from the collection of raceboat enthusiast Bob Williams. Bob was then joined
by Dr. Ken Muscatel, a successful 5-Litre and 6-Litre Class pilot, hydroplane collector, and founder of the Antique Raceboat Foundation. Since then, the museum has also been the recipient of memorabilia donated by individuals, race teams, and sponsors.
The museum is open nearly year-round, with the exception of Christmas and select holidays; and is available for private parties and events. The Museum’s house-band, the Superchargers, are available for special
Some of the award-winning boats you’ll find at the museum include the aforementioned Miss Budweiser, 1958 U-40 Miss Bardahl, 1960 U-4 Miss Burien, 1973 U-25 Pay ‘N Pak, 1974 U-8 Oh Boy! Oberto, Chip Hanauer’s
classic blue & white U-787, and the Miss KYYX, which as driven by Brenda Jones, the first female modern day-driver. You’ll also find memorabilia from the 2006 championship Beacon Plumbing team and other local sponsors, race clubs, and teams.
One of the most beautiful boats in the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum’s collection is the 1967 Miss Budweiser. Designed and built in 1962 by Les Staduacher. The boat was retired from competition in 1963, after being badly damaged by a fire during a December test run on Lake Washington with veteran driver Bill Muncey at the wheel.
In 1967 Bernie Little turned her into the Miss Budweiser V after the fourth Miss Budweiser was destroyed in a horrific accident that resulted in the loss of popular driver Bill Brow. Miss Budweiser V went on to race under several different names before being retired for the final time at the end of the 1980 season.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities available! Tour Guides, Maintenance, Restoration, Marketing, and more are needed! Donating just 200 volunteer hours gets you a ride in one of the speedboats or hydroplanes!
Eventually, she was sold to Gerald Kingen, who paid to have her restored to her Miss Budweiser appearance. A talented crew of Museum volunteers, lead by Roger Newton and Larry Fuller, worked none months to completely restore her. She was reborn on July 3, 1999, and played a major role in filming the movie Madison. In a nod to her origins, she appears in the movie as the Notre Dame and the Miss Budweiser. (Excerpt from Skid Fin Magazine, 2003)
Open nearly year-round, with the exception of Christmas and select
holidays. Available for private parties. Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum
5917 South 196th Street
Kent, WA 98032
Tues & Thur: 10am to 8pm
Wed thru Sat: 10am to 4pm
Sun & Mon: Closed
General Admission: $10
Seniors & Students: $5
Members & Children: Free