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A bit of Racing History
Email Comments from viewers
(reprinted with permission from the authors)

3/13/99 Email from Peter Crowley:

I saw your "ad" in the TOM's site asking about Crescent and Harrison racing motors. I remember when the Crescent motor came........and several years later-went! Crescent was made by Volvo-Penta. It was a three cylinder 30 cu.in. engine. It was run in the Stock Division of APBA as the "Super C" class in the mid 1970s. The Kilo-speed record was an astounding 93 MPH. It also brought the use of the "pickle-fork" hydro design for high speed racing. A few of these went into the hands of some PRO or "alky" racers and were converted to run on Methanol. They were reliable......but couldn't beat the top Konig engines.......but if they weren't the top people they could be beaten!  The Harrison....well it depends on which era......Millie Harrison made some A and B engines patterned off of the British "Anzani" engines....this was in the 1960s. His son Kay built some 250cc (A) and 500cc (C) engines in the 1980s. These  used the Yamaha 125cc cylinders. Everything else was Harrison however except the lower unit (which was a Yamato). I have a 250cc Harrison engine down stairs....I used it to set my first World Record in 1987. Kay owns the company "Birmingham Metal Products" in Birmingham, Ohio.  Sorry this is so "wordy" but you wanted to know!                         Peter Crowley        e-mail: b1prorace@mediaone.net    

After replying to Peter's email and asking him for permission to reprint the above, we received the following delightful email from his wife Bobbie:

I am Peter Crowley`s wife, Bobbie Eldredge Crowley. In reference to the Crescent motors, my father (Marshall Eldredge, Jr.), has one of the first stock Crescent Super C motors. He raced in the class in the early to mid 70`s. I believe that Dick O`Dea out of Patterson, N.J. was the distributor. My family has been actively racing since 1926. My father  began his own racing career in the 40`s and is a wealth of information on motors used in racing from that era through to the present. He does not own a computer but you can contact him @ X-XXX-XXX-XXXX. (please do not post his #) I must convince him to acquire a computer as he would enjoy your sight as well as the other wonderful antique outboard sites available. By the way, he is still active in racing in the 125cc and 250cc hydroplane classes. We are now into our fourth generation of racers in APBA. Thank you for your time, Bobbie.

p.s. Peter said that it would be fine to post his letter concerning the
Crescent and Harrison motors.

3/14/99 email from Peter:

I agree that a lot of this should be written down. The sport of hydroplane racing has a long history.  Our racing has its heroes, villains, triumphs and tragedies over almost 70 years of outboard hydroplane racing. When I won the PRO National Championships in 1993 (250ccHydroplane), there was an unbroken line of APBA National Champions from the first APBA Nationals in 1929 right to the present (with the exception of the war years 1942-1945) in that class. The name has changed through the years: Class A, A hydro, AOH and 250ccHydro. The engines and boat styles have come and gone, but it is still a 15 cu. in. Methanol burning engine. The pursuit of power in these engines have topped 90 HP- the speeds have climbed to over 100 MPH. The engines cast aside as a result of this pursuit of performance be comes the collectibles that the Antique Outboarders seek. As much as things have changed, much has remained the same. The same clock style start, the run to the first turn, the "iron" will and the racing strategy have not changed in all these years. When I talk to legendary racing great Clinton Ferguson I see a man who if able to race today (having hung up his helmet before the war), would be as formidable a driver today as he was in the 1930s. My wife's grandfather was a pioneer outboard racer here in Massachusetts, prior to moving to Lakeland, FL in 1948.  His is an amazing story that I hope write soon........with the help of Mr. Ferguson. I have seen a lot in my many years of racing. Various people have been encouraging me to write my story. My success has been the result of a combination of things. My childhood "pipe dreams" were of fantastic racing victories in big races. I was determined to learn and continue on......and never quit. In time, piece by piece, I began to win one small triumph after another. My lessons were often learned the hard way, but a lesson was always filed away carefully for future reference. After some thirty years of racing I finally had all the tools to actually win some of the very victories that I had dreamed about so many years ago. My only limitation has been the lack of financing to go to more races. The fire still burns deep and there are still some dreams that I have not realized.....yet. I am going to start a "web site" that will tell some of my story in the hope that I can entertain, inform and encourage others........and who knows...maybe along the way I can find a sponsor to share my dreams!!!!!!!          Thank you for your time.......Peter Crowley            Another wordy e-mail......but you encouraged me!

This photo was taken after I won the 62nd Annual Orange Cup Regattas- Orange Cup in 1997. The cup is awarded to the driver who sets a competition record by the largest margin at the regatta in Lakeland, FL. on Lake Hollingsworth. The race course is a big eight sided 1 2/3 mile circle- three laps establishes an APBA 5 mile competition record.......if you are fast enough!  :

crowley1.jpg (13328 bytes)

Thanks Folks!

More from Peter

4/6/99 Email from Sam Cullis:

Dick, I had a chance to look over the Crowley's emails. Mostly correct. I have some data somewhere about the year or so in which the Crescent was competitive against the Konig C. (Must have been before the Konig VC was introduced.) Probably just the first year the C was introduced to the US.

Mrs Crowley is very correct in remembering Dick O'Dea as the Crescent distributor. The name of the company at that time was Nymanbolagen AB Uppsala. When it was sold to Volvo-Penta they discontinued the three cylinder racers. So it is incorrect to name Volvo-Penta as the maker of the Crescent racers. Another vagueness in Mr Crowley's memory: there was a separate model used in Alky, with different spec's, not simply converting the gas motor to use alcohol. The model used in Alky racing actually came first. It was simply the model C, introduced in 1962. The gasoline version came out 5 years later in 1967 as the model CS. There is much confusion regarding the CS model name. At first the CS was thought to be a reasonable replacement for the aging fleet of Merc Mark 30H's in Stock outboard racing. The obvious difference in power (almost double) gave that idea a very short life. Since some racers had already bought CS's a separate class was set aside in Stock racing for them: CSSH. CSSH stood for C Super Stock Hydroplane. Since the US class that used the CS was C Super... many people attached the "Super" to the CS where the Swedes only intended it to be "Stock".  Also there was a 700cc D racing class version made. D Alky racing class has never been as popular as the smaller classes, nor as popular as the larger F and X classes (especially in the US). There may not have been any Crescent D's imported to the US. 

More from Sam

10/10/99 Email from Sam Cullis:

Although Peter Crowley is very correct in connecting the popular use of the pickle fork nose hydro design with the late 60's/early 70's time period, my research found that the idea's roots and application dates back a stunning 20 years earlier! As early as 1952 at least 2 pickle fork outboard hydros had been built and raced. One by Swift, a C,D,F, or X class size (12 foot or so) boat, and the other a B class (9 or 10 foot) boat built in New England. Dave Augustine related to me that the B class boat was quite battle worn when he began racing in 1957, and that he was the last racer to drive it in competition (at a race in Camden, NC in the mid 60's). Dave said it was the worst ride of his racing career; it was hard to plane, chine walked, hooked in turns, absolutely everything you don't want a race boat to do. These poor handling characteristics were not related to the pickle fork nose, but to other dimensions of the boat. Had the boat been an otherwise good performer we might have seen the pickle fork nose become popular in the mid 50's rather than much later, as came to pass.

What is the reason for the pickle fork nose?
When a hydro begins a nose up flip...the longer the lifting section ahead of the center of gravity, the quicker and more certain the flip is. Shortening the front of the lifting section adds a safety factor in this case. However, in a nose down situation, the deeper the sponsons are, especially forward, the less likely the deck is to stuff under the water (sort of like training wheels). So, extending the sponsons to ahead of the deck, or cutting back the beginning of the deck to behind the sponson tips added two margins of safety to hydroplane racing.

Sam Cullis