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Notable hydro designer/builder & Highline alum Ron Jones Sr. passes away

[1]Notable hydroplane designer and builder Ron Jones Sr. passed away on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017.

Jones was a 1950 graduate of Highline High School in Burien, and went on to continue his Dad Ted’s work of designing and building hydroplanes.

Hydros ran in the Jones family – his father designed such legendary boats like the Slo-mo-shun IV, Shanty I, Maverick, Hawaii Kai III, Miss WahooMiss Thriftway and many others.

Ron started building limited hydroplanes in 1950 while still in high school.

One of his Dad’s creations was the U-4 Miss Burien, built in 1960 and now restored and on display at the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum [2] in Kent, which said this about Ron Sr.:

Unlimited hydroplane racing owes a lot to Ron Jones, the Seattle area boat builder, who has revolutionized the sport so dramatically over the years.

If anyone has any doubts about the contribution of Ron Jones, to big-time boat racing, the outward appearance of the hydroplanes themselves should suffice. The boats of yesteryear were, for the most part, rather narrow, quite box-shaped, and less streamlined. They had forward engines and rear cockpits and rode awfully rough through the turns. Today, thanks to Ron, the boats are generally wider, flatter, have forward-mounted (or cabover) cockpits, and corner a whole lot better.

Click here [3] to watch a video that was presented at Ron’s induction into the Unlimited Hydroplane Hall of Fame in 2004.

According to Historian Fred Farley [4], Ron was responsible for a revolution in hydroplane design – the “cabover” picklefork model, which put the driver in front of the engine rather than behind it:

Between 1971 and 1974, Ron built a total of eight unlimited hulls, including the 1972 Notre Dame, the 1973 Pay ‘n Pak and the U-95 turbine entry, and the 1974 Country Boy, Valu-Mart, Miss U.S., and Lincoln Thrift.

By far the most successful of these was the famed “Winged Wonder” Pay ‘n Pak, which ranks among the all-time great Thunderboats with 22 race victories. It stands with Ron’s other big winner, the 1980 Rolls-Royce Griffon-powered Miss Budweiser, which likewise captured 22 first-place trophies.

Perhaps the most eloquent showcase of the talents of Ron Jones occurred at the 1973 World’s Championship Race in Seattle. Despite mist and rain, the competition was superb and unforgettable. The honeycomb Pay ‘n Pak and its 1970 predecessor (renamed Miss Budweiser) ran side-by-side. Drivers Mickey Remund and Dean Chenoweth shared the same roostertail en route to becoming the first boats in history to average better than 120 miles per hour in a heat of competition.

Here’s a video of Jones’ two innovative hydros – the Pay ‘n Pak and Miss Budweiser – racing against each other on Lake Washington in 1974 (imagine the thrill of watching two of your creations race neck-and-neck like this!):

Everyone at South King Media – and we’re sure all hydro fans worldwide – share their deepest sympathies to Ron’s family and friends.

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