Danbury Racers

Danbury Racer #38

Owner/Driver - John de Sousa

ACBS members gather with their Danbury Racer Speed Boats !!!

 

It’s been 60 years since the famous Danbury Racers have been together. Boat # 24 belonging to Bo Muller, #28 to Bob Harrity and #38 to John de Sousa, New England ACBS Chapter members, gathered at the Bay State Woodies’ spring get together on Congamond Lake, May 1, 2010.  Seeing these race boats together was the highlight of the event.

 

The Danbury Racers were once raced at the Danbury State Fair Grounds in 1950 where they created the nation’s first aquaway to race boats. The flooded race course was constructed on the horse-racing track which was flooded with water. The track was ¼ mile, 30 feet wide and 3 feet deep that had many problems just trying to hold the water in the aquaway. Boat racing first started on the evening of May 20, 1950 with time trials during the day for six qualifying events. Boats raced for either 8 or 10 laps depending on their class of B or U designated by the APBA. Two Danbury Racers also raced in a Z class with the APBA. 

 

Fairground owner John Leahy contracted Harold Kohler to design and build the Fair’s own race boats creating the Danbury Racer. What documentation exists, 18 wooden and 2 fiberglass boats where built and assigned numbers to each boat. Boats where 10’ 5” long, with a 55” beam powered by either 44 or 48 cubic-inch inboard Crosley engines with no clutches.  Danbury Racers reached speeds of 40+ mph. The first Crosley engines where the tin block design and later replaced with the higher cubic inch cast iron block engines.   

 

At the end of the 1950 racing season boat racing came to an end to give way to stock car racing that proved to be more financially sound. The Danbury Racers were stored indoors on the Fairgrounds for almost 30 years where fair employees regularly oiled and turned over the engines annually. July 30, 1980 the stored Danbury Racers went up for auction.

 

Today we’re not sure how many of the original Danbury Racers exist. The only three boats that are in the water today were at the Bay State Woodies spring event on Congamond Lake. Other racers found; three boats Connecticut, two in New Hampshire and four in Wisconsin with two of them presently under restoration.

 

 

         

         

       

         

         

 

Many thanks to John de Sousa for this story and photos !!!

 


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