Henry Lauterbach

Henry Lauterbach Remembered

Larry Lauterbach and Henry Lauterbach
Larry Lauterbach and Henry Lauterbach

One of the legends of hydroplane boat building is no longer with us. Henry Lauterbach, who designed the 1967 World Champion Unlimited hydroplane Miss Chrysler Crew, passed away on June 1, 2006.

Henry started building race boats in the 1940s. No one ever complained about the quality of workmanship on a Lauterbach hull, which was always impeccable. Just ask any of his dozens of satisfied customers. Henry built over 200 hydroplanes and all were basically hand-built with meticulous attention to detail. For sheer craftsmanship, Lauterbach was one of the all-time great "wood butchers." He will be remembered not only for his boat building ability but also for his skill as a driver. During the 1950s, Henry was National High Point Champion in three different APBA inboard classes and was inducted into the APBA Hall of Fame in 1956.

Henry retired from competition in 1963 and from full-time boat building in 2001. His son, Larry Lauterbach, continues the family tradition as a driver and builder.

The many champion hulls built by Henry Lauterbach include such famous names as Edelweiss, Miss Crazy Thing, Don Ryan's Lauterbach Special, Deepwater Special, The Irishman, Country Boy, Canadian Girl, Gemini, South Paw, Wa Wa, Chrysler Queen, Tiger, Miss Sapphire, Miss Washington, D.C., Miss Desoto, Big Chief, Bluewater Special, Miss Dinomytes,and many more.

Lauterbach had his biggest Unlimited Class success at the 1967 UIM World Championship Regatta in Detroit. Bill Sterett's Miss Chrysler Crew (an enlarged hull duplicate of Sterett's 7-Litre Class National Champion Miss Crazy Thing) became the only boat in the post-World War II era to win an Unlimited race with automotive power--a pair of 426 cubic inch supercharged Chrysler hemispherical engines.

In recent years, Henry had the satisfaction of seeing one of his earliest creations put back in the water after many years in drydock.

Henry's Tenth (F-10) is a 266 Cubic Inch Class hull, powered by a modified Mercury V-8 flathead engine. The boat was built by Lauterbach in 1952 and was tested one time. It never raced and never had a name or APBA registration number.

The original owner had a stroke and the boat was put in storage in a barn, where it languished for over forty years.

Acquired by Dan and Debbie Joseph of Wheeling, West Virginia, in 2002, the boat was taken to the shop of Larry Lauterbach for restoration.

Dan and Debbie saw an opportunity to honor the master hydroplane builder, Henry Lauterbach, in naming the boat. With Henry's approval, the boat was named Henry's Tenth.

Henry believed it to be the tenth hydroplane that he built and stated that it was the oldest in existence today.

On April 19, 2003, with Henry present, Larry successfully tested Henry's Tenth on the waters behind Lauterbach Custom Boats in Kent Narrows, Maryland.

At the 2003 Mount Dora (Florida) Antique Boat Festival, Henry's Tenth won the award for Best Race Boat.