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Increasing participation in SO

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  • Increasing participation in SO

    Since I am an outsider at the moment I naturally have a ton of questions. I pretty much have proven that so far by asking 'a ton of questions'. Recently I have been just lurking and reading posts new and old and I see frequent conversations on growing the sport, the sport is dying, how can we increase our numbers, and then arguing over the seemingly endless number of class all directly relating to the health of the sport. From my perspective I really didn't know there was a problem, I have known about outboard racing for more years than I care to mention. But now I am getting closer and seeing that there is discussion on growing the sport and perhaps, possibly relegating expensive equipment to the junk heap because there is no one to race against in a dying class. Being an amateur boat builder for some years I had run across the Cocktail class boats a few times and thought perhaps a build was in my future just for fun. I also recently found out they have a race at Union Lake in Millville and it makes me wonder, wouldn't these folks be a captive audience for Stock Outboard racing.......I mean it is pretty much a natural progression if you think about it. Why isn't there a welcome mat for these folks.?

  • #2

    Re: Increasing participation in SO

    I looked into the Cocktail Class several years ago as a mater of curiosity. Their group is mostly on the east coast. From what I gathered they have a good organization and it probably would not benefit them to become part of APBA. Their racing does look like fun.... however one comment. The boat was designed in the 1930s and truthfully is not a very good boat.... but for their purpose it works just fine. Any faster would be more dangerous for them. I think they run about 25 mph or so.

    Go to one of their events and check them out... Like I said it does look like they do have fun. Chesapeake Light Craft.... has a kit for sale, or at least use to. Check them out also... and of course plans are also available.

    Dean F. Hobart


    • #3

      Re: Increasing participation in SO

      Realistically, the two detractors to SO/MOD racing are: equipment availability, and travel. Kart, cars, motorcycle racing typically have a track somewhere locally that gets used nearly every weekend. As racers in APBA, we have to travel to various lakes and rivers.

      Equipment, though, is probably our biggest issue. Unlike dirt bikes and quads, the only time we drive our boats is testing and at races. These aren't driven around for fun for lengthy periods whenever we feel like it, so there isn't exactly SO/MOD boat racing shops in every town selling hydroplanes and runabouts and Yamato engines, etc Race cars obviously only go on the race track, but auto racing is big, much bigger than we are, so parts and equipment are available at the click of a mouse button.

      To our advantage, racing SO is probably one of the cheapest forms of sanctioned racing, not only to get started, but also in terms of maintenance and longevity of the equipment. No tires to replace weekly, no need to upgrade the chassis every season, etc. In fact, it is common to see hulls that are 5 or 10 years old (and even older) still racing.

      The real attracter is for people who like boats, or anyone who likes the thrill of speed and racing in general, and especially for anyone on a budget.

      I think one other possible detractor is from the spectator perspective. Even I have to admit watching a few small boats racing in an oval for 3 laps isn't quite the same as watching say, NASCAR or a 40 lap dirt track race.

      But, we know the real fun is in driving them, so how do we get more people in them? Awareness the sport exists and Driver school. Much easier to get someone to try it for $50 than to tell them they just need to drop a few thousand.

      CSR4C, T Chance and 3 others like this.
      Dane Lance


      • Dave Cofone
        Dave Cofone commented
        Editing a comment
        All true, but what I was aiming at is the Cocktail class folks probably are the best target market for new drivers. They are already in tiny kneel down boats with limited HP. Being that they are racing in the same town (Millville) I would think an invite would very possibly yield some interest in Stock Outboard. They may want to step up to a faster rig and won't mind the wait to get some equipment since they are already attending events of their own.....

      • Ram4x4
        Ram4x4 commented
        Editing a comment
        Oh, I think there would probably be some that may have interest, but at the same time, those folks (at least those in Millville) are probably already aware of SO since we race there.

        Also too, you have a limited audience with them. Once they've been exposed to SO, then that's it. We get what we get from their ranks and that well is empty.

        We normally do at least one show per year at a local mall, but a couple of our club members have also been taking boats and gear to the Piston Power Show in Cleveland (think around 1.5 million square feet of hotrods, planes, race cars, militaria, boats...anything with a piston engine). We've gotten a few driver school students from that venue each year. We're always looking for bigger and better venues to set up a booth and display some boats.

        The driver school has proven to be our best and most consistent method to get new drivers. We just need to make the general public more aware we exist.

    • #4

      Re: Increasing participation in SO

      This maybe a unpopular view on why stock outboard doesn't grow but why would anyone want to spend thousands of dollars to join a sport that, without a member of the good old boys club to vouch for you or very deep pockets will never get competitive. As Ram 4x4 said lack of equipment, let alone competitive equipment it's not out there but with the best engines and boats you cannot be competitive with out a prop and these are sold sparingly to the older members. As a father of 3 stock outboard racers I know the frustration of buying new props that should be competitive and have your kids props that were picked out of someone else's junk run faster than the new one, or why can one person seem to order a wheel and always get one that is faster and another person gets the junk . No one wants to join a sport to be a also ran. New motors are added and stock outboard lets them be continually be modified to make them competitive or reliable, while the people with the old engines can't do anything to make them competitive. If you have a Hot Rod 15 you race that against a Sidewinder 20, is that fair. Why not make the 15s both Hot Rod and Sidewinder race each other and the 20 Sidewinder race the 20 Hot Rod, Oh that's right you kicked the 20 Hot Rods out. The Tohatsu engines have welded cranks milled heads, some are running the wrong gear ratio and god know what else against a Mercury 44 fishing engine that could be tweaked very easily. Speaking of Mercury reminds me of back in the day when Mercury and OMC built stock powerhead for stock outboard and sold the converted engines at a reduced price to racers, for that the got jerked around by the good old boys club till they through in the towel. So today we run modified engines in stock class and in getting rid of the old engines pissed a lot of old racers off and they quit just like OMC and Mercury. How does that grow the sport.


      • #5

        Re: Increasing participation in SO

        we need to quit trying to "downsell" our sport and cheapen it trying to tell people they can get into racing for $2500-3500! that what we really want? Be honest and not try to be deceptive....tell them it is a minimum $5000 investment, if that is too much for them, then so be it....but
        "cheaping it" just hurts the sport and does not get the people we need involved......just my opinion.....

        PS: it is still a very affordable sport, compared to other forms of motor sports....
        crfabbro2F and HRTV like this.


        Team Darneille



        • #6

          Re: Increasing participation in SO

          I think this is what Ron Hill means when he talks about Boat racing is circling the drain !



          • #7

            Re: Increasing participation in SO

            I'm far beyond being able to race SO....playing with my anteek Swift & 55H is the limit for my olde body.... 20 years ago I was a VERY competitive open mod sled racer....and that was (back then) a 10K investment. If 5K is realistic...don't undersell it. That's CHEAP! Been there, done that.

            ryanbrew57s, HRTV and like this.


            • #8

              Re: Increasing participation in SO

              twostroke Jim
              Do you still want the 30H
              717 215 8154
              Last edited by squirrelboydeluxe; 12-05-2018, 03:00 PM. Reason: phone#