Red Loomis

The Red Loomis Story

Red Loomis
Red Loomis

Arthur "Red" Loomis drove Unlimited hydroplanes between 1958 and 1967. A Limited boat racer since the 1940s, Red's first Unlimited ride was J. Philip Murphy's Muvalong, a sister hull of Breathless and Breathless II from Piedmont, California.

At the 1958 Lake Tahoe Mapes Trophy, Loomis piloted Muvalong to second-place behind Miss Bardahl’s Mira Slovak in Heat 1-B and third- place behind Maverick's Bill Stead and Thriftway Too's Brien Wygle in Heat 2-A. Although Red failed to finish the Final Heat of the Mapes Trophy, he nevertheless acquitted himself rather well in his Unlimited debut. This guy clearly had "the right stuff."

Unfortunately for Loomis, the Murphys retired both Muvalong and Breathless after the 1958 Lake Tahoe race and concentrated solely on Breathless II, which was driven by the owner's sons, Jay and Roger Murphy.

Red did get a chance to take the wheel of Breathless II at the 1958 Seattle Gold Cup as a relief driver. That was the race where the Bill Muncey-chauffeured Miss Thriftway lost a rudder and crashed into a U.S. Coast Guard utility boat during Heat 2-A. Jay Murphy was so shaken by Muncey's horrific accident that he relinquished the Breathless II wheel to Loomis for the re-run of Heat 2-A.

Red scored points in a couple of boats during the early 1960s. these were Bob Miller's Miss Everett in 1960 and Bill Schuyler's "tennis shoe" $ Bill in 1961.

Miss Everett was the former Gale IV and Wildroot Charlie and had seen her better days. Loomis finished sixth in an eleven-boat field at the 1960 Lake Chelan Apple Cup.

$ Bill was one of the ugliest and roughest-riding Unlimiteds of all time. After a fifth-place finish in Heat 1-A of the 1961 Reno Gold Cup, Red could hardly walk and asked to be replaced as driver. (This was in the days when a heat of the Gold Cup consisted of ten laps around a 3-mile course.)

Red is probably best remembered for his stint with Mike Wolfbauer's Savair racing team between 1964 and 1966. He usually drove Savair’s Probe but also handled Savair’s Mist. Loomis finished fourth in the 1965 Madison Regatta with Savair’s Probe. In 1966, he piloted the Probe to third-place in both the Detroit Gold Cup and the Tri-Cities Atomic Cup.

In addition to driving the Savair boats, Red did double-duty at a couple of 1965 races behind the wheel of Jack Schafer's twin-Allison-powered Such Crust IV. The Crust was a popular craft with race fans but just too big and heavy to be much of a contender--no matter who was driving her.

For his last season of Unlimited competition, Loomis affiliated with a new team out of Detroit--the Miss Wickman, owned by Ben Stormes. Coincidentally, this was the same hull that Red had driven in 1958 as Breathless II. Miss Wickman finished eighth in a thirteen-boat field at the 1967 Tampa Suncoast Cup and won the Consolation Heat at the Detroit World Championship Regatta.

Red's final appearance as an Unlimited driver occurred at the 1967 Seattle Gold Cup where he replaced Bill Cantrell in the cockpit of Smirnoff, owned by Joe Schoenith. But this proved to be an unhappy experience for Loomis. An experimental computerized Allison engine set-up failed to function and the boat was unable to qualify.

A back ailment forced Red's retirement from competition after 1967. But he remained a familiar and popular figure on the Unlimited circuit for many years. He enjoyed visiting with friends--new and old.

Loomis was a favorite with the media and always gave an excellent interview. Ask him a question, and he would carry the ball for fifteen minutes.

Now deceased, Red is remembered as a good journeyman driver who did as well as could be expected with the equipment that was available to him.