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First Mortgage L-1
Richard Cooper, of Miami, whipped an all Florida feild in the 91 cu. in. hydro class by winning both championship heats.
His boat, "First Mortgage", is an Alfa Romeo powered Lauderbach hull. Twelve entries competed for the title, minus defending champion, F. C. "Doc" Moore, of Hialeah, Florida.
Phil Kunz Photography


91 Hydros.
Defending champion, F. C. "Doc" Moor, of Hialeah, had nothing but trouble this year at the Nationals losing out with entries in the 91, 48 and 150 events. His 91 failed to make the starting line with a blown engine, leaving the trail open for twelve Florida entries. Winner was Richard Cooper, driving "First Mortgage." (2) Robert Tucker ("The Topper"), St. Petersburg. (3) Sunny Jones ("Dragon"), North Miami, Fla., who was shaken up after flipping in the second championship heat.
 

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More Alfa Romeo Racing Hydroplane history

I am having fun finding all kinds of information on Alfa racing on water...
BILL NORTHUP SPECIAL REPORT: THE QUEST FOR THE RECORDS
In the early 1950’s there seemed to be a concerted effort among boat racers everywhere to see who could break the existing water speed and be tops in their classes. Here in North America the Unlimited Hydroplane record was set by Stanley Sayres of Seattle WA in his Slo-mo-shun IV at 178+ mph. The Limited Classes of hydroplane’s best record was set by Bobby Sykes in his 266 class hydro Guess Who at 121+ mph. The Slo-Mo was 28 feet long and powered by an Allison aircraft engine of WW2. The Guess Who by an automotive V8 Mercury engine of 266 cu.in. displacement. This was the best we could do then.
At that time in Italy some truly amazing performances were accomplished regarding speed on water. In December 1952 Mario Verga’s friend, Ezio Selva, in an 800 KG Class hydroplane he built himself named Moschettiere set a kilo straightaway record of 121.02 mph on Lake Lugano at Campione d’Italia. (A record has to be a two way average speed through a measured straight course.) Selva’s hydroplane design, as all the Italian boats, was heavily influenced by American boats that went to Italy to race in the late 1940s and were so successful. Bob Bogie and Paul Sawyer let the Italians take the lines off their boats and this proved to be a tremendous help for the Italian sportsman racers as their designs were hopelessly outdated.
Selva’s’ Moschettiere was powered by two 2250 cc BPM racing engines mounted in tandem. The combined displacement was 274.5 cu.in. Very close to our North American 266 Class Flathead V8 Mercurys in use.
The Italians classed their racers according to a maximum weight with no restrictions as to engine size in their largest class of hydroplanes. They did have smaller classes rated according to engine displacement. They had no restrictions as to cost. In North America we were restricted in engine size and cost, a big factor, as well as a minimum size of the hull. On the continent the big crowd pleaser was the 800 KG class (later upped to 900 KG) which is about 1760 pounds total weight. They used Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Ferrari racing engines with no cost limits.
In January 1953 Mario Verga took his 800 KG hydro named Laura I through the kilo course at Campione d’ Italia on Lake Lugano to a new record of 125.72 mph eclipsing his friend Selva’s record. Verga’s engine was an Alfa Romeo Formula 1 type 159, one of the worlds most famous racing engines. It was a straight 8 cylinder double overhead cam 2 stage supercharged engine of 1500 cc. 91.5 cu.in. Yes, only 91.5 cu.in. that put out an astounding 420 hp at 9000 rpm!!
Verga had some handling problems on those runs so the hull went back to the shop for modifications. Two weeks later on 15 February 1953, with the hull lengthened to improve handling, Verga went back on the kilo course at Campione d’Italia for another record attempt. The lake was perfect that day and Laura I‘s engine was performing superbly. Verga blistered the course. The first speed was 143 mph and the next 137.77 mph for an average of 140.38 mph. To realize the full significance of this performance we must compare Verga’s Laura I with only 91.5 cu.in. and a North American 266 class hydro fuel injected V8 Mercury Flathead of 266 cu.in. The hulls were both similar in size. The Laura I record of 140+ and Sykes’ Guess Who 266 class record of 121+. Verga’s performance with Laura I was phenomenal at the time. Of course his record was broken later, but, it took Dr. Castoldi (Italy) and his Arno XI with a Ferrari V12 to do it.
Verga, Selva and Castoldi came to race in Miami at the Orange Bowl Regatta December 1953. Verga’s Laura I won the Baker Palladium Trophy. Within a year in Italy Verga was killed while attempting a water speed record with a new Laura 3 powered by two of type 159 Alfa engines. He was doing over 180 mph when the hull became airborne and crashed.
Selva came here to race his Moschettiere in the later 1950’s and was not successful even though his new hydro was powered by the same Alfa Romeo type 159 as Verga’s was. He was killed during the 1957 Orange Bowl Regatta in Miami when his Moschettiere became airborne and crashed.
The death of these two Italian Sportsmen Racers was a serious loss to the world of boat racing and was deeply felt by all in the sport. However, in the early 1960’s hydroplane racing in Italy had a resurgence and enjoyed halcyon years of racing.
Today there is much interest growing in finding and restoring vintage raceboats. We here in the US are a little ahead of the guys in Europe, but not by much. There are quite a few there that have, for several years now, been restoring and racing these vintage hydroplanes. Indro and Eric Manzoni have been pushing their friends to get organized. In 1998 the Federazioni Italiana Motonautica appointed Guido Romani to head up their new Historic Division. Meets have been scheduled in 1999 in Milano and Campione d’Italia. This is just the well-needed start.
 

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Classes using Alfa Engines

A - class
The 135 cubic inch class started in the early 1930's at the 125 cubic inch motor size. After War World II, the class size changed to 135 ci in to allow the Ford flathead. Everything up to and including fuel injection was allowed. These modified motors dominated until the early 1960's when the Falcon 6-cylinder proved more efficient. In the years that followed, the cubic inch went up to 150 and the biggest variety of motors of any class were tried. These included the Buick 215 (de-stroked), Chevrolet 4, Ford 4, BMW 4 & 6, Fiero 4, Alpha-Romeo, Datsun, and Dodge slant 6 cyls., all of which have won races. Motors can be fuel injection, but no double overhead cams. In 1950, the class had a 13.5 feet minimum size requirement, but that was increased as the raceboats reach higher speeds.

L - class
The 91 cubic inch class started in 1936. The hulls had a 12 feet minimum length requirement. The motors were modified and even the use of double overhead cams were allowed. The most popular motors were Alfa-Romeos. There was also Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines used, as well as two Crosley automotive engines coupled together inline. In the late 1960's, this class had the motor's bore & stroke size increased to 98 cubic inches. The last year this class raced was 1977
 

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Laura 3 Hydroplane Race Boat

Reading a previous article you will know that this boat used the Alfa Romeo racing engine. Here is a picture of the boat, and she was pretty.



Achille Castoldi's SANT' AMBROGIO from Milan, Italy, generated a lot of excitement when it showed up at the 1948 APBA Gold Cup in Detroit. The most recent challenger from another continent had been Count Theo Rossi's ALAGI, also from Italy, which competed on the U.S. tour and won both the Gold Cup and the President's Cup in 1938.

Powered by a 12-cylinder Alfa-Romeo aircraft engine, SANT' AMBROGIO wasn't quite in the same league as the illustrious ALAGI. In competition, Castoldi's craft was totally outclassed. In the first heat of the Gold Cup, SANT' AMBROGIO ran ahead of only one other boat (the 7-Litre Class WILL-O-THE-WISP) and sank after three laps with a hole in the bottom, which was constructed of one-quarter inch plywood.

Castoldi tested a new SANT' AMBROGIO II the following year and reportedly exceeded 120 miles per hour in trials. The II won the 1949 Coppa dell'Alleanza on Lake Garda but did so against mediocre opposition and was never entered in United States competition.

Another Italian Unlimited hydroplane, Mario Verga's LAURA-3, surfaced briefly and tragically in 1954. Measuring 29 feet 10 inches by 8 feet 6 inches and weighing just barely a ton, LAURA-3 was a Timossi-built three-pointer, powered by twin supercharged Alfa-Romeo 750 cc engines set in tandem, which together developed 800 horsepower. (*can this be correct?)

Verga was trying to exceed SLO-MO-SHUN IV's world straightaway record average of 178.497 (for two runs over a one-mile course) with a one-way clocking of 186.600 on Lake Islo. LAURA-3 leaped clear of the water, crashed violently, and sank, leaving only an oil slick. Verga was fatally injured.

More information and pictures. VERGA
 

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Another 159 Alfa Powered boat

Mathea VIII is a 1957 San Marco hull built in Italy, class 800 KG (similar to F class hydros) and was owned & campaigned by Chris Von Mayenburg from Germany.
It originally had a Alfa Romeo type 159 supercharged V-8, 1500 supercharged from an official GP car.
(In the photo you can see the Alfa Romeo final exaust).
Von Mayenburg retired in the 1960, the boat continued campaigning with Switzerland drivers.
 

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Vintage Race Hydroplane

Last one I think for a while? Maybe not if I have hit pay dirt. :p
Miss Bedeli
Driver/owner Mr. Brunet at the helm.


Italian-designed racing hydroplane. Power for this racing hull is an Alfa Romeo engine fed by twin webers. Hervé Fressard of France is currently restoring this vintage hydroplane.

Check out the restoration page on this boat, this matches some of our car restorations. I wonder if I could trade some of my Alfa's for a Alfa powered hydroplane? That would be a thrill to drive one of those!
RESTORATION OF MISS BEDELI
 

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Moschettiere- Musketeer Racing Hydroplane


This is the Ezio Selva's MOSCHETTIERE V which was the boat that took Ezio Selva's had his fatal accident at Miami in 1957.
Timossi hull, 800 kg. class, Alfa Romeo 159 engine, double supercharged, 8 cylinder in-line.
When the boat was returned back to Italy, the engine was returned to Alfa Romeo and the boat, at the wishes of the Ezio Selva widow, was destroyed.
Thanks to Guido Romani for sending in the photo and providing information.

Death of a Sportsman
Monday, Jan. 13, 1958 "I'm a lucky driver," he used to say. "I've never been in the water." With luck riding in the ****pit, Italy's Ezio Selva became a world champion hydroplane driver, a little, effusive man with a light touch on the skidding turns and a heavy foot on the straightaways. A onetime high-diving champion of Italy, Selva seemed ideally suited for the sport he took up in 1948 at the advanced age of 46. ****ily, he used the 400-h.p. Alfa-Romeo engine from the boat that had killed his good friend, Mario Verga, in 1954. "One engine won't kill two men," said Selva.
But in the U.S., Selva had more than his share of bad breaks. Three times he was knocked out of the Orange Bowl's International Grand Prix in Miami, twice on disqualifications and once when an underwater object ripped a hole in his hurtling hull. Last week when he climbed into his bright red Moschettiere (Musketeer) for a fourth try at the event. Selva had good reason to think this time his luck might be good. He knew the course, and his engine was tuned to a blatting, bellowing roar of controlled fury. But win or lose, Selva, 55, had decided to quit the sport after the race. Said he: "I'm too old."
Against standard racing strategy, Selva let himself be beaten to the starting line in the first heat, was trapped back in the pack and could not break loose until the last lap when he nearly caught the winner, George Byers Jr. of Columbus, Ohio. Between heats he explained to newsmen: "I no like to start first bad luck."
In the second heat, Selva again was beaten to the start by two boats, but the judges immediately disqualified them both for jumping the gun. Out on the water, without knowledge of the judges' decision, Selva knew only that he was behind again. While his 20-year-old son Luciano made movies of the race from the shore, Selva roared after the leaders. The arching rooster tail of water thrown up by his prop hissed behind as Selva whipped past the second boat. And skipping down the straightaway at 100 m.p.h., he shot into the lead right in front of his son's camera.
An instant later, a wave slightly lifted the hydroplane's flat nose. Ponderously, the 364-lb. boat started into a slow-motion backward somersault. Luciano hurled away his camera and screamed: "It's turning over! Father, father!" The red Musketeer landed full on its bow, dashing Selva against the windshield. His son half-jumped, half-fell 30 ft. to the ground from the judges' stand and leaped into the bay. A patrol boat raced to pick up Selva's floating body. The windshield had ripped into Selva's chest, and he was already dead. His first spill into the water was his last.
 

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Alfetta Engine in a small Hydroplane

Check out this guys restoration of a vintage hydroplane using a 2 liter Alfetta motor. Most of all notice that it has the flywheel attached and that the engine is mounted in "backwards" so the prop runs off the nose of the crankshaft! How do they mount the driving shaft to the prop?

RESTORATION PAGES
 

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Sant' Ambrogio Hydro Plane

Achille Castoldi [1949]

Italian Speedboat Star to Compete in U. S.
By Paolo Costa

Achille Castoldi adjusts his crash helmet before starting on an early morning trial with Sant' Ambrogio II. Jo'-Jo', the pet dachshund, hopes for an invitation to go along.

Sant' Ambrogio II, the most powerful speedboat in Europe, reported to have done 124 mph in a test run.

Achille Castoldi, the top-flight Italian and European speedboat are, is completing preparations for his forthcoming tour of the United States, where he will take part with his Sant' Ambrogio II in some of the most important competitions.

Castoldi intended to compete in the Gold Cup race and in the Detroit Marathon, but two unfortunate incidents damaged the powerful boat to such an extent that participation became impossible. Castoldi now claims that he is fully determined to make up for his bad luck in future races.

American motor-boat competitions are surrounded in Italy by an atmosphere of legend. Races based on the free formula, that is without power limitations, cannot practically be held in Europe unless Americans are participating, as Castoldi is the only European racer who possesses a modern, really powerful boat. A second one is reported to be under construction in England for Sir Malcolm Campbell's son.

Castoldi is the proud owner of a boat smaller than Sant' Ambrogio and belonging to the class under 450 kilos.

This comparatively tiny boat however has 300 h.p. and a speed of up to 85 miles; it has a 1500 cc. motor which is the same with which the famous Alfa Romeo Alfetta cars are equipped. The boat has been named Arno II, the same engine mounted on a thinner, lighter boat covered the mile at an average speed of over 94 miles, thus establishing the world record for the class under 450 kg.

Sant' Ambrogio however is the boat that should interest American experts and fans for its exceptional features. It has an Alfa Romeo D.B. aircraft engine of the 12-cylinder, 34 liters type, and is closely similar to Sant' Ambrogio I with which Castoldi took part in the 1948 Gold Cup race. It weighs 2.8 metric tons without passengers, gas or oil and its tanks hold 1.4 tons of gas. The engine's power is 1,800 H.P., and although Castoldi is extremely uncommunicative on the matter it is understood that Sant' Ambrogio II exceeded, 120 m.p.h. in trial runs. It has been entered so far, in only a single competition, the Coppa dell'Alleanza on Lake Garda, and won without meeting real opposition.

Castoldi was testing Sant' Ambrogio last May at Milan's artificial seaplane base when the shaft where the two coaxial propellers are fixed suddenly broke loose. The boat, then reportedly running at over 124 m.p.h. swerved sharply and overturned. Castoldi remained wader water, but luckily did not faint and after a short while he was seen swimming near the overturned boat. Within a week he was well again, but when he resumed training in preparation for the Detroit marathon, Sant'Ambrogio II was found to be out of balance and unable to speed with the required stability, one of its peculiar features. Now the hull has been rebuilt at record-breaking speed and Castoldi is confident he can test it in time for American competition next season.

He is a sincere admirer of Guy Lombardo, Dan Arena and Foster and is eager to battle it out with the top American stars and boats.

Castoldi is an exceptional sportsman, and his friends claim he would rather give up his industrial activity than his sport. He is the owner of a textile concern and the president of a maritime recovery society that recently salvaged the largest Italian liner Conte Grande. He has a degree of chemical science and one of natural science. But the 45-year-old industrialist and scientist is first of all a sportsman. At 21 he was a university world champion of sculling, practised motorcycling, track events, aviation and fencing, and is still a good golf player. But he loves motor boating and reserves all his free hours for his favorite sport. He hopes to go to America and is determined next year to enter all important American competitions. This is one of Castoldi's two major objectives, the other being the world record held by the late Sir Malcolm Campbell. The Italian ace has reasonable hopes that he can establish the new record before long.

(Reprinted from Motor Boating, October 1949, pp.40, 82)
 

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Thanks Simon, I was digging around for something else and stumbled into a gold mine. Beautiful boats, unfortunately in hydroplanes there is the element of risk and glory with the fine line between both as evidenced by the many drivers who die. I was amazed at the Bi-motore boat. More amazing that Alfa Romeo has so little chronicled on their efforts for records on the water.
 

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Found the article I put together in 2002 regarding Steve Linn and Double Dragon. Steve sustained major injuries in a boat flip or crash last year, apparently on Orchard Lake (about three miles from our home) and has been recovering since.

From reading histories and news, Gold Cup racing on this side of the pond began in Detroit, evolving from rum runners using modified Packard engines in the 1920s. The sport is still locally popular and several races at different venues are with a handful of miles each summer.
 

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From reading histories and news, Gold Cup racing on this side of the pong began in Detroit, evolving from rum runners using modified Packard engines in the 1920s. The sport is still locally popular and several races at different venues are with a handful of miles each summer.
I've heard the same regarding the origins of racing in and around Detroit. As a kid, I used to watch an inland lakes marathon just south of the U.P. every summer. The boats were more modest (top speeds of 60 or so) but they were small, light weight, and one hell of a lot of fun. Entry age for racing was 12 years old so you might imagine it was every kid's dream. Never raced but still very exciting to watch these little boats going full out, in 2-way traffic, down some very narrow rivers between lakes.

John
 

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Detroit Alfa Hydroplane

If you want to see a video of an Alfa-powered hydroplane in action, watch this (the driver, Steve Linn, was badly injured shortly after making this video but has since recovered).

 

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WOW! This really does exist. There was a model of this posted somewhere, can't remember exactly. Any word on who owns this and if it runs? What else was in the hanger?
* I re-read this thread and the pictures of this boat are on the first page along with the model* If this was restored as by the pictures on the first page, when was this picture taken in the Lake Como hanger?
 
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