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The Fales' family story

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  • The Fales' family story

    As the next round of the USTS event coming this next weekend, it has with a delightful twist in our race at Hammondsport, NY. While there are very many racers that have come from the empire state and the New England area, today I want to concentrate on a name that led the APBA in some very formative times.
    This story goes all the way back to the 1940’s when a young teenager Bill Fales began his career in boat racing. And what class does a young racer wanting to start boat racing get into, of course the “F” runabout or as it known today as 1100 Runabout by the way at the behest of Bill Fales. I happened to grow up in my formative years in DePue and went to every Nationals and boat races I could, including the Depue Boy Scouts Inboard races. I happened to be at DePue when Bill Fales proposed the current classifications of classes, from the 125’s up to and including the 1100’s. With motorcycle’s beginning to really take off, they were sold by CC’s and Bill thought that the average fan could then relate to the classes of Pro racing. Today, even the Modified category have adopted Bill’s vision, only adding to his legacy.
    For those of older than dirt, the Johnrudes as I call them were the engines used in Pro racing and Bill started off in the “F” class with a 460 and then later switched over the big 6 Quincy looper on the N-77. I found a Youtube video of Bill and other racers, it looks like either a 44 or a “D,” see how easy it is for old guys to slip back into the old ways? The video has several venues including at Depue and some East Coast. You will bfe able to see some of the heats, the video is from the 70’s so not real clear, but there are some great shots of Bill as they are firing him up off the beach in the Big Six as well. I found this on Ron Hill’s Boatracingfacts.com and tells you what an all time great in outboard racing thought about what would happen if he were up against Bill Fales
    Ron Hill

    1968 DePue:

    This was the first year APBA ran F Runabout at DePue, before 1968 F Runabout was a West Coast Class and we always had the Nationals out here....in 1968, even though I was the Competition Record Holder for FRR, I didn't have a boat or a ride for the Nationals. Bill Fales from NY would have "Kicked my butt" anyway, funny thing was his fuel tank wasn't large enough to run five laps and five miles, so he had his "Deck Rider" add a gallon of alky out of a Purex bottle WHILE THEY WERE RACING......I NEVER RODE with anyone, I always drove!!! If you look closely, you see the rider is riding backward. He just finished dumping the fuel and is trying to hang on for the corner...Of course, they are running an honest 90 MPH with 11 others behind them...14' runabout, 22" bottom...

    Bill Fales later had an extremely HOT LOOP SIX.

    You can find it at this address on Youtube,


    Bill has a couple of son’s who have remained interested and now activated in boat racing once again, Rick and Steve Fales carry on their Dad’s great legacy and have fond memories of the people Bill surrounded himself with. A fellow named Elly Langdon was a mentor both on the water and in building engines as the boys called him a consummate engine builder and Mechanic. And of course, a great runabout driver needs a great runabout to drive and Bill and Ralph DeSilva became like Grandfathers to the guys. BillHad to laugh, Pat Wright, current owner of the N-611, with son Jimmy, said he was Bill’s pit “*****” as a kid. Bill went on to win many championships in the 1100R, there I wrote it, but when visiting with Rick and Steve, they felt that Bill’s greatest accomplishment was a father and mentor to them. Bill could not run the FRR by himself and a good friend a fellow Long Islander Dick Scoponich fit the “Bill’ as a deck rider when they really were deck riders. Howie Pickerell and Jay Gignac also took a turn in the N-77. A NYC news anchor decided he’d like to give it a whirl and promptly came back in soaking wet, and it was not from the water in the lake.
    Bill was proud of his efforts to resurrect the FRR class and the East Coast became as much of a hot bed as the West Coast, and I remember in the 60’s elimination heats in the class. The competition between Bill, Billy Jack Rucker, Rich Fuschlin, and Howard Anderson at the Nationals was epic. The great results were from the work in the shop with attention to detail.
    Bill tried extremely hard to get the Pro Nationals on TV at Depue on Wide World of Sports, but it did not work out. Bill was about promoting boat racing where and whenever he could. Bill secured the TV rights and Gulf was willing to put 40,000.00 in the sport, but somehow politics entered in and the sanctioning club rejected the effort. That level of support has never been reached since.

    I asked the guys to name a few of the competitors that they faced as well as Dad. NY and New England as I said was a hot bed of racing back in Bill’s time and this is just a small list that came to mind. Hank Runne from NJ - always a gentleman! RC Hawie from CT, NJ, FL - boat race historian! Pete Voss from Long Island - class act, I’ve known him almost my whole life! Dick O’Dea from NJ - spent many, many hours in his shop in Patterson, NJ! Others that had an influence: Rex Hall, Jerry Simonson, Billy Seebold, Jerry Waldman and countless others. A veritable who’s who of boat racing.
    The family also raced in the modified division and there they ran into Gary Miller, Don Fryklund, Mike O’Brien, George Luce, and in Pro, Mike Schmidt, Thirlby’s were some of the guys you had to have your act together in order to beat them. When I asked the question of toughest competitors were Rick reminded us of the drive within the Fales family as he said, “Absolute toughest competitors: my dad and brother, both made you work for it. No quarter given!”

    To that end, as Steve said, one of his great memories in boat racing was beating my Dad the first time! He made Rick and I earn everything. We had to beat him up. When I passed him for the win, actually felt I beat the best straight up! I had tears in my eyes that day.

    Rick Fales started racing when he was 12, they put him in a 14’ DeSilva and sent him on his way, with hold on and learn to drive it as his instructions. LOL This would have been about 1967, and then he retired for a bit, but learned what most of us know, boat racing has to quit you before you can quit it. So, in the 1980’s it bit once again with Eastern Outboard Racing Club once again and not only raced but served the sport as a Mod commissioner.

    Steve Fales came into racing in 1984 and boy did he ever as he ran any number of modified classes. Steve: 25 Mod R - 250H / (500) C Mod R/H - 350 H / (750) E Mod R/H - 500 H/R / (850) Form E R/H - 1100 R / Two pers. R - 700R

    Asking what records they set and championships they won, they commented they did not dwell on records that they were validations to their programs and used them as stepping stones to the next level and aspect of their quest for excellence. It was about winning the next heat of racing. One award did stand out to them that their Dad received was his induction into The Gulf Hall of Fame in NYC.

    When Bill passed his greatness was not only known to his Son’s but to those he came into contact with on or off the racecourse. This was magnified by a note from one of the greatest kneel down drivers ever. They told me that their Mom received a Western Union Telegraph from Billy Sebold stating that my Dad was “The greatest driver that he ever raced against.” That meant a lot to all of us.

    The guys had a number of favorite cities and racecourses, among them Hartford, Ct. on river, Dayton where Rick not intending to set a record did so because of his intent to beat Gary Millet and Don Fryland on the water. Steve mentioned, Springfield, MA was a favorite as came from dead last in a twelve-boat field in 750 R to win the race. Passing Don Fryklund in the last corner on the outside. Even passing my Dad on the back stretch of the last lap. And of course, DePue with memories of Dad’s championship years in FRR.

    When I asked the guys what boat racing meant to them, Rick said, I have retired from boat racing outboards three times only to come back again. Will be back again in 2021! You know the drill when the infection sets in. Steve said, it’s the relationships and friendships you develop over the years.

    The guys are going to be back racing once again in 2021 as Steve and Rick will be behind the wheel of the Pat Wright equipment at Hammondsport and their company PowerMist is sponsoring what else, the 1100R race with a beautiful trophy for the winner.

    Speaking of PowerMist, The Fales have been in the fuel business for quite some time. Bill started the business from his chemical background. For well over a century, our family was involved in the chemicals business. For years Dad bought product from other fuel companies, eventually we realized we had the capability and means to do it ourselves. Today everything is done in house and we are a solid #3 in this industry. Not bad for the little guy!

    Pat Wright is a distributor for them with methanal which we use in Pro racing. Their methanol they supply is Saudi methanol that is sealed under nitrogen to ensure purity. They take great pains to provide the purest methanol available. PowerMist is a boutique type fuel company as they can pretty much blend any mixture you might have need of. They supply to many of the motorsports disciplines and enjoy a great reputation in blending specific needs fuels. Go to their website and you will find all the products such as racing fuel, lubricants, and stand ready to help you with your needs.

    I love their tag line on the PowerMist.com website:
    If your not using PowerMist, you’re probably following someone who is!!
    We look forward to Hammondsport and seeing the Fales Legacy take another turn as they join us at the USTS race there.

  • #2
    Great stuff Ray.

    Dean F. Hobart