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HomeRacingPhoto Essay: Florida Vintage Raceboat Club Hosts Another Triumphant Fall Thunder Regatta

Photo Essay: Florida Vintage Raceboat Club Hosts Another Triumphant Fall Thunder Regatta

Lost in the shuffle of the many things on my plate to get done this week and next before the Thanksgiving holiday, was the 2019 Florida Vintage Raceboat Club’s Fall Thunder Regatta, which took place last weekend (Nov. 15-17) at Wooten Park in Tavares, Fla. Fortunately Pete Boden, chief photographer for speedonthewater.com, was on hand for the first of two days of exhibit vintage raceboat action sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association on Lake Dora.


Mitch Herrick, of New Martinsville, W.V., ran his classic hydroplane raceboat Flying Tiger in last weekend’s Florida Vintage Raceboat Club’s Fall Thunder Regatta. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

Of course the variety of boats on hand for the annual regatta is always impressive, and this year was no different. Boden posted an attention-getting live video from the lake of Red Bird, a Switzer Wing powered by Mercury Racing stackers with open megaphone exhaust—unfortunately the boat lost a gear case a few laps into the exhbition, which ended the day for the crew.

At the event, former racer and defacto raceboat historian, Rich Luhrs, who handles communications and sponsorships for FVRC, had the honor of driving the very first tunnel hull he ever raced in the USA—a Molinari hull built in Lake Como, Italy, in late 1964, with a stacked factory race Mercury 1100 engine. He said the boat needs a bit of tuning and prop work , but that it was a wonderful experience.

Check out the slideshow above for more images from the Fall Thunder Regatta in Tavares, Fla.

“Sincerest thanks to Bob Schubert, the owner who found and restored this precious piece, and the Ridgell family—Roy Ridgell, Robert Ridgell and Bob Ridgell—for being part of this moment,” Luhrs wrote in a social media post. “The late Roy Ridgell Sr. was the original driver back in 1966 in the Gold Coast Marathon, and his family’s presence made the experience extra special.”

The regatta is held twice a year with races in the spring and the fall on Lake Dora. Teams travel from all over the country, and even Canada, to participate in the classic raceboat demonstration.

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