Moe Buringrud

Moe Buringrud Remembered

By Fred Farley - Unlimited Hydroplane Historian

Moe Buringrud
Moe Buringrud

Unlimited hydroplane racing has lost one of its pioneering participants. Elmore S. "Moe" Buringrud passed away on November 2, 2007. He was 83.

Mr. Buringrud was crew chief of the revolutionary Thriftway, Too (U-62) between 1956 and 1958. Designed by Ted Jones, Thriftway, Too was the first modern cabover (or forward-cockpit) hull to compete in the Unlimited Class.

Although Thriftway, Too never won a race, it left behind the germ of an idea that was later picked up and improved upon by others.

The cabover concept was frowned upon in the 1950s and '60s as being unduly hazardous. It has since gained wide acceptance. Unlike in days of old, all of today's Unlimiteds seat their drivers ahead of the engine well.

With Brien Wygle in the cockpit, Thriftway, Too achieved the pinnacle of its racing career at the 1957 Sahara Cup on Lake Mead, Nevada. The Too defeated the overall winners Jack Regas and Hawaii Kai III in a spectacular Final Heat duel that was run in almost total darkness!

Buringrud spent most of his professional life as an engineer for the Kenworth Truck Company. He served as project manager on a specialty Kenworth truck that was used in the 1989 James Bond film, License To Kill, starring Timothy Dalton.

Following his retirement from Unlimited racing, Moe remained an avid fan of the sport and attended the annual Seafair Regatta in Seattle. Every year, he would watch the competitive action from a boat anchored in the south turn of the Lake Washington race course.

In recent years, Buringrud served as an advisor to George Compton's Thriftway, Too duplication project, an exact copy of the original U-62, which is expected to be water-tested in the very near future.