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Meet the magnificent monsters
Mort Lund
May 05, 1958
An exclusive introduction to jets—the power revolution about to hit boat racing
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May 05, 1958

Meet The Magnificent Monsters

An exclusive introduction to jets—the power revolution about to hit boat racing

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"It is awfully loud," admitted Mrs. Staudacher, who has never been over to see the engine. "Lester almost got killed the first time he started it. He had put a piece of metal in there somewhere and, when he started the engine, the metal flew right out, went through Lester's hat and put a hole in it. If it would have hit him in the head, it would have killed him."

In spite of this inauspicious start, all else seems to have been going pretty well with the Detroit boat. Staudacher plans to put her in the water by July 1.

"Then she'll go," said Staudacher. "Two hundred and fifty to three hundred in straightaway time trials," he added with an eye toward Campbell's Bluebird.

Back in Seattle, Bluebird's record is also being eyed, and very confidently, by Ted Jones. "I began thinking about the possibilities of building a jet boat a long time ago," said Jones, standing before a drawing board in the recreation room of his Lake Washington home on a recent Sunday. "It was shortly after the first time I saw pictures of a jet plane. I believe it was a classified movie at Boeing early in the war. I do remember that Mussolini was in the picture watching this plane."

Jones says that when Campbell and his friends first began to work on Bluebird in 1951 Jones gave them the benefit of considerable thought on the subject, including several rough sketches of pontoon designs.

Any good pontoon design, according to Jones, channels the air past the sides and lets it out from under the hull before it builds up dangerous pressure.

"Propeller hydros utilize the air stream under the hull to lift them off the water," said Jones. "At 250 to 300 miles an hour, we can't use this aerodynamic lift because, if we did, the boat would take right off and fly."

To illustrate his point, and to accommodate SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's request for a plan drawing of his jet, Jones spent a good part of this particular Sunday muttering and perspiring, with his drawing board set atop the bar.

In his usual Sunday at-home garb—slacks, beaten-up carpet slippers and a short-sleeved shirt which showed the arm scars from years of motorcycle and boat racing—Jones sweated through some six hours of painstaking trial-and-error drawing board work until finally at 10 p.m. he was satisfied with his output and sat down to eat some pizza and banana cream pie his daughters had made, his first meal since breakfast.

"I don't like to be one of these guys who talks and never does," he said with a wave at the finished drawing, "but this one will get built, and it will set the world straightaway record.

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