Thunderboat Row, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, South Florida, Don Aronow, Jim Wynne, Walt Walters, Dave Stirrat, Buddy Smith, Jake Trotter, Alan “Brownie” Brown, Dick Cole, Alton Cary, Formula Marine, and offshore boat racing.
Soon, Aronow found that he also had the skills to gather together a team better than most others to build racing boats. Here is a photo of a 233 raced by Aronow in 1963 (he came in second in the Miami-Key West Race that year in this boat) and first sold it to another racer in early 1964.  It has a single 409 Chevy going into a Mercury Marine outdrive. Thunderboat Row a, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, South Florida, Don Aronow, Jim Wynne, Walt Walters, Dave Stirrat, Buddy Smith, Jake Trotter, Alan “Brownie” Brown, Dick Cole, Alton Cary and offshore boat racing. A good, middle-aged fast life involved with good looking women and fun things to do involved fast boats in south Florida in the early 1960s. Don Aronow started racing wood and fiberglass boats made by others when he first left fishing from boats and started out in boat racing.
One of the most recognizable “wow” boats ever offered for sale is the Cobra by Chris Craft. Ever since Chris Craft figured out how to make money in a nation-wide depression economy every year since 1936, they then wanted to be THE boat builder for every man, woman, and family in the world.
For the underwater hull shape, Chris Craft used the same naval architectural lines of one of their existing boat models as the running surface.  They had already sold 503 of those hulls. To that underwater running surface they crafted a sleek, stretched, curvy bright finished planked mahogany boat that started at the bow as high, wide, and bold and then  tapered aft to nothing.
She was a 20’, 10” boat with only one seat, so naturally they put a big, loud, and bold 200 horsepower Hemi Chrysler in most of them. Sleeper is an antique and classic planked mahogany wooden runabout that has been modified into a race boat by Harold Bauer.
The boat also had her structure strengthened with extra bracing, while her chines were really widened (see seabuddy’s photo), and a cavitation plate was added for stability and control.
Chris Craft made 786 of these 19 foot Capri wooden runabouts over four years in the late 1950’s.
Proper use of modern materials within the original Chris Craft mahogany wood planks and wood framing structure allow for the easy trailer, launch, and use of this classic boat.
Hey, go late enough into the spring-summer and Dave will maybe have some gas in the 20 gallon tank and you might be able to go for a final test ride with the boat owner. Dave Hannam’s boat shop in Annapolis, Maryland is doing a restoration of a classic  wood boat that is being remade with easy trailer travel and usage as its goal, as well as a great classic boat.
Stop by Classic Watercraft Restoration and see top notch work as well as a boat restoration that is slanted towards easy boat trailering and a in and out of the water style of usage of a classic mahogany planked wooden runabout Chris Craft. This boat is a single 9 lamination plywood thick bottom were you see big sheets of plywood and two layers of planking thick were my photos show where the plywood was cut into strips to follow the curve of the vee in the bow area. This piece of wood was added back into the area where the original construction of this boat had a chine. While the Racing Runabout was a success in the number of units and the number of model years (1948 -1954) it was offered, the Coba only sold 55 units. When seabuddy boat tested a Racing Runabout the three on board was divided two in the front cockpit and one in the aft cockpit. These are seabuddy photos of a 21’ Chris Craft Cobra, but they do not show the 19’ boat I tested. Truth be told, the faster Baby Gar V broke down and Gar Wood had to wait some seven minutes for the IV to catch up so he could transfer to it from V as V had proved to be the faster boat.
Chris Craft boats made this one in its similar series of 30 foot wood cabin cruisers from 1963-1968 which they named as a Constellation model. Specs on the boat is 18’ 11” in length and she has a beam of 6’ 1”. Her overall weight runs in the 2,100 to 2,400 lbs.


She is not a bow rider and one must change which cockpit to sit in at dockside, as this power boat is a true runabout and not a utility. I got a ride on a Pennsylvania Lake in a similar boat that belongs to a friend that was also lovingly restored and its ride and handling during that fresh water cruise was really a terrific experience.
Chris Craft offered this wood power boat model in either a natural wood stained and highly varnished hull and deck or as a painted red and white finished powerboat.
Find more listings like 1955 Chris Craft Capri Classic by searching the Classic Wooden Boats category.
This iconic racing boat was originally designed by George Crouch in 1924 and went on to win the 1924 and 1925 APBA Gold Cup. It has been said that the 16 foot Gar Wood speedster is, pound for pound, the most valuable classic production speed boat in the world. There are some 15 frames, 2 keels, twin hatch assembly, vertical cleats, gas tank fixing, drivers bench seat, breast hook, front and rear stems with knees etc.
Don Aronow, “The King of Thunderboat Row “ coming from North New Jersey quickly found out he was a world class offshore race boat driver.
Busting through waves, running wild surf, jumping his racer over huge freighter wakes, and always, always with the gas pedal throttles wide open and boat speed at full speed ahead. A few Chris Craft Cobras topped that engine with an even more powerful 285 horsepower Cadillac Crusader from Detroit car dealer Cal Connell. She has a 1955 to 1966 racing career over which she was regional high points champion 4 times.
This Chris Craft racing runabout is not a Chris Craft Racing Runabout model, she was a standard production pleasure boat modified by her owner. She is having a “no soak” trailer able bottom as old wood needed to be replaced and the owner wants to take her anywhere, drop her in for a quick spin, and without any need to soak up or swell the bottom planks on this bottom. When this boat sits in the water, ready for a quick spin around the lake, one does not see anything different than what she showed when she was first built.
Stop by Dave Hannam’s boat restoration shop in Annapolis see this stylish Chris Craft Capri wooden runabout undergo its steps into a thing of beauty for yourself. Dave is using his skill to make a classic boat owner’s wide-ranging travel plans into one that allows for “Have Chris Craft, will Travel”. Inspect how proper use of epoxy and 10 oz finishing cloth in the right places on a wooden boat bottom makes it a leak proof or waterproof wood boat bottom. Do not worry if there is a drip or two shown, lots of shaping, sanding, and flaring is yet to come. Chris Craft boats liked the sales of the 503 boats that they built of their 18’ 11” Racing Runabout model that they added to the hull design above the water line color stripe so the Cobra classic boat measured 20’ 10” and the boat at the deck rub rail was widened from 6’ 1” for the Racing Runabout model to 6’ 9” for the Chris Craft Cobra. Gar Wood raced his 33 foot Baby Gar V and her sister Baby Gar IV both built to a design by Chris Craft’s Christopher Columbus Smith. Chris Craft and Gar Wood had promoted the idea of a bottom step to increase speed in a runabout. All had these Liberty Engines for power that had been designed by Packard Motors and Hall Scott Aircraft Engines.
Constellation is a storied Chris Craft model name first used in the 1954 model year as the name for the 53’ flagship model of the Chris Craft cruiser fleet. The various members of the Smith family had sold their holdings in the family business on February 7, 1960.
She is almost all deck, engine room, two rows of seats and little, if any, walking around room in the cockpit areas. That one had an extremely special Chris Craft engine rebuild by an out of state noted engine builder of classic engines.


Most came with the seating areas finished in a Chinese red or red hue, but blue was a choice, as I understand it, but not in all of the model years the Racing Runabout was built post WWII. Great workmanship and attention to detail is shown in the work coming from Moores you can see. Find other similar ads by searching the Classic Wooden Boats For Sale - Used & New category. He soon envisioned that for him, rather than clipping coupons in his old age, he could collect rent once a month from the boat building companies that he invented. Once he got within the waters off south Florida and the Bahamas, he went from fishing from boats to racing in boats. This is a boat that raced against Curt Brayer and his Dancing Bear and Forest Johnson and his Prowlers in the F Service Runabout class. Powered by a 95 horsepower straight shaft inboard by Chris Craft when she was built in 1931, she was re-powered as a racing boat Chris Craft.
She and IV raced down the Hudson River alongside the Twentieth Century Limited train on the river edge RR tracks from Albany to NYC. They are usually credited with making the refinements that made it a useful race boat feature.
He had gotten World War I aircraft engines as war surplus at bargain rates as he had bought piles of them at a time. The sales price of the company was about one year’s sales volume and roughly 16 times the profit. This and other 30 footers were somewhat re-styled over the years that they were in production and had good sales success. With a big flathead Chris Craft she gives a great ride at normal antique and classic boat speeds and a real thrill when the throttle is opened up even more. He and Gar Wood, (who was from a different generation of boat racing) are the only two Americans honored with world-wide UIM recognition in the history of boat racing. He went from a semi-vee boat bottom design (Crystaliner, for one) to a deep vee boat bottom design during this early time frame.
They were building about 8,000 boats then with their 3,500 employees.  At the time of the sale, the first non-family person became responsible to run the Chris Craft boat building business. These engines were moved aft within the hull, a Casalle V-drive installed with a jack shaft to a Borg Warner transmission, a Cary two blade propeller selected, and the two cockpits relocated into forward dual cockpits with bucket seats for both the driver and the riding mechanic, a fuel tank was located under the fore deck, and the hull was fiberglassed. Some say it only had one bench seat where the Racing Runabout had two benches in two cockpits. Light weight for that time, they were offered in boats by Gar Wood at horsepower rating from 400 Hp to as high as 550 Hp. Dave wanted the boat back to original in cutting, stopping, and throwing the bow wave down and away from the cockpit passengers. This weight coupled with the different engine made the goal of knowing what it feels like to drive a Chris craft Cobra by testing a 19’ Chris Craft Racing Runabout on a wide open lake a false test.
The keel, chines, frames, stringers, ribs, and planking were made of oak, fir, and Philippine Mahogany.
Don sold that company with the new company owners renting the building from him and Don started a new company on the same 188th street.



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