New members Bill and Diane Mackay have a really fun boat to share with us! Susie II has history just like all of our boats do. Below is an article written by Nancee Gillis for APBA (American Power Boat Association) which originally published it in Propeller magazine in November 2020. We thank Nancee and APBA for allowing us to share Bill and Diane’s boat story with you. We all look forward to seeing each other in person in the coming months. Welcome Bill & Diane! See you soon!
“SUSIE TOO II”: ITS JOURNEY TO RESTORATION by Nancee Gillis, Region 9 Publicity Chairperson
Bill Mackay Photos
During the COVID-19 shutdown, many people were working on projects and refining their crafts. Bill Mackay included, he rescued an old boat, has started to restore it, and has posted his progress on Facebook. The history involved with the specific boat he found is astounding. It turns out, the boat Mackay rescued was an old Sid Craft Race Boat.
Sid Craft Race Boats was started by Sid Urytzky and Mickey Starego in New Jersey. Together they designed and built thier own boats, starting in 1959. Urytzky did the designing of the boats in his garage, which he eventually turned into four bays, and his son Bob and Starego built them. Some issues would eventually lead the two men to stop working on the boats, and that led to the end of the building process. Both men had different sides of the story, of course. Urytzky claimed there was a back log of orders, and he wanted to redesign the boats because too many drivers were getting hurt with the increase in engine power. Starego wanted to keep the design they had. Urytzdy and his son Bob took a year off to go to the races and figure out what they had to do to make a safer design. The three got back together and were building one boat a week. In the end, Starego kept complaining that he was doing all the work, and Urytzky was doing very little, so money share became an issue. Because of this disagreement, Sid Craft boats were no longer being made and the partnership dissolved.
Back to Bill Mackay. This project started with Joe Johnson looking for a boat to put his Mercury 20H on. Richard Fuschlin told Johnson that there was this boat named “Susie” in Pine Grove, California. Johnson contacted the person who had it and found out that “Susue” was a little too big for what he was looking for. So, this opened the chance for Mackay to possibly fulfill a dream. Mackay had been looking for a boat for the 30H he restored several years ago. Without hesitation, Mackay jumped on it and took a ride to Pine Grove, where he met the greatest people – Jan and Ellie Buhlert.
“Susie” was in their barn, where they had been storing it for Susie Fry Gunning Ballhagen (widow of Gail Gunning, original owner). Ballhagen wanted the boat to go to a good home, to someone that would take care of it – that ended up being Mr. Mackay. After meeting Jan and Ellie and picking up “Susie Too II”, Mackay started communicating with Ballhagen in Idaho. Mackay knew he had fallen into something very special here. As a kid growing up in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Mackay’s dad took him to watch many boat races. He fell in love with the sport and knew he had to somehow get into boat racing. In those days, Sid Crafts were the Cadillac of wooden outboard race boats. Mackay dreamed of someday having one. It took over sixty years, but that dream came true!
Mackay brought “Susie” home and started working on it to get it back to its glory days. As this project rolled along over several weeks, it became somewhat of a passion. Mackay’s Facebook posts had garnered attention from his friends and boat racing fans alike. People commented on his progress photos, sharing some history they may have known from the “Susie Too II”, as well as sending words of encouragement to Mackay. Everyone wants to see it back out on the water, especially the racers from years past that are sharing their stories from “back in the day”.
Mackay’s intent with this project was not to create a museum piece, but rather bring “Susie Too II” back into the shape it was when Gail Gunning last raced it. He has learned from Ballhagen that Gunning was “picky, picky”, so that is what has driven Mackay.
“Susie Too II” will see that water again one day. Mackay does not know if it will be him driving it, though, his joints do not bed like they did sixty years ago. With the pandemic, “Susie Too II” has given him something to do and keep him somewhat sane – or maybe not – but that’s a good thing.
“Susie Too II” is a 10’6″ C-D Hydroplane powered by a 30 HP Mercury 4 cylinder engine. Since this article was published, Bill Mackay has completed the restoration of “Susie Too II” and says, “Now that Susie is restored, just looking for some events to take her to…..she is totally sea worthy and race ready and will be racing in vintage events if we ever get past Covid.” We hope that’ll be soon Bill!
“The boat was originally purchased and shipped to Gail Gunning in Dixon, CA. Back in the day “Susie Too II” was raced in A and B Outboard Hydro (Alky) with Quincy Looper or Konig power. A and B Stock classes did not go near that fast. Gail Gunning, Richard Fuschlin, and Jan Buhlert all grew up together in Dixon. They all went off to college at Cal Poly SLO. After college they got into boat racing and were know as the “Dixon Dandies”. Jan told Bill Mackay how “Susie Too II” survived a massive wild land fire just a few years ago. Jan’s house is located on top of a peak overlooking a huge canyon. The 77,000 acre fire burned right up to the edge of his 10 acres where CalFire halted it’s progress!”
“Susie TOO II” ACCOMPLISHMENTS
9/11/1960 – A Outboard Hydro 2nd Place, Ellis Lake, Marysville 4/16/1961 – A Outboard Hydro 2nd Place, Fremont Marine Stadium 10/1/1961 – A Outboard Hydro 2nd Place, West Sacramento Turning Basin 7/4/1962 – A Outboard Hydro 3rd Place, Lodi Lake 7/22/1962 – A Outboard Hydro 3rd Place, Stockton 9/1/1963 – A Outboard Hydro 2nd Place, Redding 4/17/1966 – B Outboard Hydro 1st Place, Pine Flat Lake, 72.2 mph
Here’s a fun video of Susie Two II’s life!