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Fan Stories

1964 Gold Cup

As a kid, I remember the last time the Greed Dragon raced in Detroit for the Gold Cup . I became a Dragon fan the first time I saw and heard it run up the backstretch. Being a Dragon fan was not what you would expect in Detroit at that time. Racing was in a golden period with everyone having a shot at winning.

It was the final heat. Bardahl had run hard all day, a win would do it. I was dressed all in Bardahl green. Had on my Bardahl pin for luck. I had found a way to watch the race from the DYC docks (the first and only time in 50 years). Each time Ron Musson ran by, I would wave wildly like he could see me. Just before the final heat started (around the 1 minute gun), Ron ran up closely to the docks, right at me, too close. Suddenly he looked up, I could see the gages in the cockpit, he gave me a thumbs up ! The sound was tremendous ! I almost fell over. What a thrill. I know he won but I don't remember much after that.

What a great site, and how wonderful I might get to see the Dragon again. As you can see, this one holds a special place for me. Good luck with the restoration.

Tom Jewett, a Bardahl fan

Winston Salem, NC

1963 Gold Cup

My Green Dragon story begins in Detroit when I was 6 years old. My Dad was a big boat racing fan back in the late forties and fifties, my grandpa (Pip, we called him) didn't seem too interested so my dad would take the streetcars down to the river to see whichever race was going on, Gold Cup, Silver Cup, Harmsworth, etc.

I guess they took me to the ill-fated 1961 Silver Cup where Bob Hayward died when Miss Supertest flipped in the Belle Isle turn, Ron Musson won the race on accumulated points but I was too young to remember.

But I DO remember the 1963 Gold Cup! My Dad was a Muncey fan and picked the Thriftway to win, for some reason I picked the green one with the big black engine sticking up out of it! It was a real lousy day-dark, rainy, I can still remember Muncey dead in the water at the start, trying to restart the Thriftway with a big stack fire - how bright it was right down in front of us. This was the changing of the guard, the Thriftway Dynasty was over. I was hooked ! Where boats like Thriftway and Notre Dame and U.S.5 looked "pretty" with their full cowlings, the dragon was a hotrod all the way, black scallops, bare engine and the secret agent on the tail, what could be cooler than that ?

Randy Roe

Taylor, MI

Bardahl fan for life !

Miss Bardahl Memories

I grew up about 7 miles Southwest of the race course on Lake Washington. Our next door neighbor was a chemist at Bardahl. He always was bringing home various Bardahl items such as green "Bardahl" paint that all of us kids insisted on using to paint our home made hydros, movies showing past hydro races in glorious black and white, cardboard Miss Bardahl hydros like the one shown on your site. (I wish I still had it), buttons, coats, and anything related to the Green Dragon. Safe to say, our neighborhood regarded Miss Bardahl in reverential terms!

I attended my first unlimited hydroplane race in August, 1962. It was the Gold Cup on Lake Washington. As an 8 year old, it was a spectacle that had me mesmerized! I remember seeing the first heat of the day, as the Miss Seattle Too disintegrated right before us in the South Turn! The explosion of water, the screams of the massive crowd, it was unbelievable. Anyway, racing resumed, and that brand new, beautiful Miss Bardahl gave the eventual winner, Bill Muncey in the Miss Century 21 a heck of a fight all day long, and finished as runner up.

I remember the sight after the final heat's conclusion, as Muncey took a victory lap but he was not alone! The Miss Bardahl accompanied the Century 21 around the race course as the fans wildly cheered for their Seattle boats triumphant day.

The next day, my family attended the Century 21 Worlds Fair at what is now the Seattle Center. It just so happend that the Green Dragon, and the Miss Century 21 were on display in front of the Coliseum, (now Key Arena). After having attended the race the day before, I felt so lucky to be able to see these hydros up close! Also I remember seeing Ron Musson dressed in a suit singing autographs! My folks took pictures, and if I can locate them, I'd like to forward them to you.

I faithfully followed the Green Dragon's progress as the race victories began to mount! I remember hearing live coverage of the out of town races on the radio. I particularly remember hearing an announcer's description of, "Ronnie Musson, and the Green Dragon running like a bomb!" In the fall of '65 A Chevrolet Dealer in Burien had the Green Dragon on display! I actually got to sit in the cockpit and have my picture taken. How cool was that?

I remember looking forward to the '66 season as the newly developed rear engined Bardahl showed so much promise for the future. Sadly, on that fateful day in June '66 when Ron Musson, Rex Manchester, and Don Wilson perished, I felt as though I'd lost members of my family! It was like the line in Bye Bye Miss American Pie, "The day the music/ racing died". We all acknowledge that even though hydro racing continued, even though it remained, and remains a great sport, a lot of magic died that day!

Steve Teasley

1962 Madison Camel Commercial

"At age 17, I was present during the entire filming of the 1962 Camel commercial. As I recall, it was filmed on Monday after the Madison race the day before. I believe that the boat was also used for a DFPA ( Douglas Fir Plywood Association ) commercial a couple of years prior. At any rate, the filming of the Camel commercial went late into the afternoon and Ron Musson ended up driving into a blinding late afternoon sun which actually turned out to be the most spectacular scene in the spot. One thing I recall was the director having Ron stand on the deck at the front of the engine while smoking a Camel and point to crew members simulating working on it. The director told Ron to point and say something to them although his voice is not heard in the commercial. Ron said, "what do you want me to say ?" The director said "tell them to hook up the mixer." No one seemed to be sure what that meant, but that is what Ron says in the commercial."

Don McKay, Sr., Madison, IN

1962 Madison & Camel Commercial Filming

"The legions of young TV viewers who have never seen a cigarette commercial on television may have difficulty comprehending the fact that a tv commercial for a national marketing campaign for Camel cigarettes was filmed in Madison, Indiana, many moons ago featuring the late Ron Musson and the 1962-vintage Miss Bardahl. The Bardahl had finished second (based on accumulated points) in that year's Indiana Governor's Cup race the previous weekend. The final heat had been one of the most spectacular I have ever witnessed in 50 years of watching the big boats. I've seen races all over the country and traveled extensively as a public address announcer in the 1980s and '90s, so I've seen and broadcast quite a few. Musson and the Bardahl battled deck-to-deck with Bill Muncey and Miss Century 21, and the "Green Dragon" crossed the finish line first. Race officials later ruled that the Bardahl and Tahoe Miss had both jumped the gun at the start.

Those were exciting days for a kid living two blocks from the riverbank. The previous November Roy Duby had tested in Madison almost daily until Thanksgiving in preparation for an assault on the mile straightaway record. Duby's top speed in Madison had appeared to be 196 mph, but a later examination in Detroit showed that his air speed indicator was malfunctioning and that he had actually been churning speeds in excess of 215 mph. I was in the fourth grade at the time, and my school was only 3-1/2 blocks from the river. Imagine trying to get any studying done with a monster Merlin roaring up and down the Ohio River valley in excess of 200 miles per hour!

I was a 10-year-old hanging out with my buddies in the pit area that September week in 1962 when Ron Musson was turning laps on the river in front of the television cameras. We knew something was up because all of the other unlimiteds (except our own Miss Madison, of course) had already left town. But not only had Miss Bardahl remained on the boat ramp but a crane had remained there as well. We had our answer in the middle of the afternoon on Wednesday, September 5, when school was interrupted by the throaty roar of the Bardahl Rolls-Royce doing laps on the river. We couldn't wait for the final bell that afternoon. Filming went late into the evening as some of the shots even including the sun beginning to set behind the Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corporation power plant stacks to the west. I recall it was a chilly evening as well. Later research as an adult proved my memory correct as it dipped to 47 degrees overnight.

The next day more footage was shot from a camera anchored to the front, right side of the engine well for closeup shots of Musson in action. Closeup footage was shot of Ron on the boat lighting up a Camel after returning to the dock. I recall the camera crew had large screens to deflect light on the subject for softer light and less glare on the driver's face.

There were two versions of the commercial (:30 and :60 seconds) released to national television. It began to air the following month on NBC's Huntley/Brinkley Report and several sit-coms. The footage was excellent with the picturesque Indiana and Kentucky hills and the Madison-Milton bridge providing backdrop. It was somewhat fitting that the commercial be shot in Madison in that the farmland on both sides of the river produced some of the finest burley tobacco in the land.

The TV commercial and associated magazine ad campaign helped make Ron Musson a household name in the early 1960s, even to people who weren't all that familiar with unlimited hydroplane racing. Ron got his first unlimited win in Madison in Hawaii Kai III in 1959, which was the first race I ever saw. Ron was 5'-7" and my buddy, the late "Wild Bill" Cantrell, used to chuckle and call Ron a "banty rooster with a heavy right foot." Ron was one of the greatest of the greats and Fate took him from us far too soon."

Dave Taylor

Lexington, IN

1962 Gold Cup

"Well Add this One to Green Dragon. & Gold Cup Boat Race Stories. Please. Because this One Is Very Much The Thuth To In 1962. Al Bacause Of Both The A.B.C's Wide Owrld of Sports. Tv SHow + The 1962,Gold Cup Boat Race My now 44,Year Old Autistic Savant Son Johnny,Beaver. First Saw You His Very First Gold Cup Boat Race on The Tv Set there In Detroit. On A.B.C's. Wide World Of Sports. Just on Month Before He Finely Learned How to Talk. & So First Saw & Because with Form Of Autism. Mesmerised Bo Both The Looks Of The. Prop & Motor Raceing Sound Of The U-40 Miss. BARDAHL,Green Dragon Raceing By On The Tv Set right In Front Of Him Making The "Alittle,Little,Little! Arewa,Rewa,Rewa! Eeeeeeeeeearrren! Alittle,Little,Little! Arewa,Rewa,Rewa! Sounds to Him Over Our Old Black & White Hi-Fi. Tv Set. From R.C.A. But any How Now He WOrks In The Hot-Pits. for Hydro-Prop. & The A.P.B.A. & also Races Some of them to also. & Stil with His Form Of high Funktioning. Autism. with Excited About some He Stil Yet today Mocks & Makes those Very Same U-40 Miss. BARDAHL Green Dragon hydro Race Boat Sounds. Just As Go As He di it in 1962,

Again His Father Mr. Elmer,Larry,Beaver,Sr Age,89.

& Johnny,Beaver Age,44

Both Of Carmi IL.

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