Oregon Kid

Oregon Kid, Like Slo-mo, Went East and Won Fame [1913-15]

Boating fans along the Pacific Coast are thoroughly familiar with the 1950 and 1951 record-smashing achievements of the Seattle-owned Stanley Sayres boats, Slo-mo-shun IV and her racing companion Slo-mo-shun V, Gold Cup champions, Harmsworth champion, speed record holders, lap and heat record holders — it is just about the biggest thing that has come to Pacific Coast boating in many years.

But the Pacific Coast had another notable boat that cut quite a figure for itself in coast and national racing. It was forty years ago.

In 1913 Milton Smith of Rainier, Oregon, built the 20-foot, one-step hydroplane Oregon Kid. She won the Pacific Coast Championships; gave the boating fans at the famous old Astoria Regattas many thrills and then went East. Back there in the big league the Oregon Kid swept the country's best winning important victories at Chicago, Keokuk and Buffalo. She raced against the best of them and won the Middle West and National championships.

The boat was from the designs of John L. Hacker, Detroit, who designed the modern-day classy boats Miss Pepsi and My Sweetie.

The Slo-mo-shun champions roar out of the turns and down the straightaways with 1750-hp Allison engines steadily thundering out the power. But in the Oregon Kid's day her bank of six exhaust pipes, shooting skyward, delivered a tremendous roar from only a 100-hp, 6 cylinder Van Blerck engine, which Smith had taken from his other boat Vamoose.

It was only 1/17th of the horsepower that is in those Allisons but the Oregon Kid went 50 mph on the straightaways and usually defeated all comers. First she defeated John Wolfe's famous racer to cop the Coast championships at Astoria and then beat a famous national champ, Disturber III.

The Oregon Kid's success was due, in part, to the mechanical ability of Frank Brock, her engineer, who had formerly worked in a carburetor factory and had driven speed autos. She lifted along her entire keel until only her propeller seemed to be riding the water. The faster she went the less disturbance of the water was created.

The rough weather in the East damaged her planking. It was repaired in an eastern boatbuilding plant. She was picked to help represent America in the Harmsworth Trophy race in England.

In the meantime, she raced at Buffalo, was in the lead, hit a big wave and capsized. That put an end to the Harmsworth try.

Like Slo-mo-shun V following along on the heels of IV, Milton Smith and his son had an entirely new hull built the next year, very similar, called her Oregon Kid II, and went on to take the coast cup again.

The son is the present-day Rainier tow boat operator of a well-known Columbia River business, Wilbur J. Smith.

The Oregon Kid II had only one defeat. This was at San Francisco in 1915 at the time of the big Exposition. The water was very rough and Barnacle II bested her. This craft was from Chicago and was driven by Harry Groat, who now resides in Portland, Oregon. Groat was in Seattle for the '51 Gold Cup races and took a keen interest in the designs. Orth Mathiot, who brought the ill-fated Quicksilver up from Portland, learned his racing in the same events that featured the Oregon Kid.

(Reprinted from Pacific Motor Boat, December 1951)