1957 U-62 Thriftway Too
Owner: Ron Daum
Driver(s): Ron and Alex Daum
Model Builder: Craig Bradshaw
Construction: Carbon Fiber Composite
Year Built: 2008
Motor: Himax 3630-1500
Radio: Specktrum DX6i
Electronic Speed Controller: ETTI 150 Navy Race
Propeller: Octura X447R
Paint Colors: Mahogany, Persimmon (Orange), White
Graphics: Craig Bradshaw
Notes about the Model: Craig Bradshaw had prepared a mold and built the Gilmore’s 1960 white version of the boat that successfully debuted at the 2008 Champion Spark Plug Regatta. Craig offered to build Ron a hull, an offer that he eagerly accepted, and the rest is history. The West Coast Custom Boat Works delivered the new “Too” hull the Such Crust/Pepsi Shop for outfitting in June 2008 and was subsequently returned to Craig Bradshaw for painting and graphics.
Notes about the Real Boat: A lot of attention focused on the THRIFTWAY TOO when she arrived in Seattle from her builder Les Staudacher in the summer of 1957. Unlike every other boat on the circuit that year, THRIFTWAY TOO sported a forward-cockpit, or "cabover", hull configuration. Since the end of World War II, a number of Unlimited hydroplanes had seated the driver ahead of the engine. These included SANT AMBROGIO (1948), SKIP-A-LONG (1948-49), THUNDERBOLT (1952), and SCOOTER (1954) but the T-Too was the first of the prop riding three pointers to do so.
Designer Ted Jones touted the THRIFTWAY TOO as "the boat of the future" although she was only sporadically competitive. The crew constantly battled the boat, which was blazingly fast on the straights, but bogged down in the corners. To overcome this "sinking" feeling, the Thriftway team installed the first rear stabilizer on a hydro; an honor often bestowed on the Pay 'n' Pak in the early 70s. But even this could help her get out of the corners. She did manage to finish second in the 1957 President’s Cup and 1958 Diamond Cup races with Boeing test pilot Brien Wygle driving. The 34-foot hull was one of the biggest and heaviest Unlimiteds of all time and was further handicapped on account of being designed to carry two V-12 aircraft engines in tandem although she never used more than one. Throughout her career, THRIFTWAY TOO was greatly overshadowed by her smaller, faster and better funded team mate. While the U-60 had a professional crew and first class equipment, the U-62 had a completely volunteer crew and second hand everything else.
After four years of experimentation, THRIFTWAY TOO, the first modern cabover, was written off as a failure and eventually buried in a landfill. But she left behind the germ of an idea that was later picked up and perfected by others. Though her racing days were far from successful, the sleek cabover THRIFTWAY TOO is now having the last laugh. In the days when conventionally designed hulls (with the driver sitting behind the engine) ruled, the Too was an oddity, the victim of visionary ideas that would not become standard until almost 25 years later.
Notes about 2016: Rebuilt and repainted for the 2015 season, the boat was damaged during the season. The Too is expected to see little action in 2016.