One of the most beautiful race boats of all time, BABY BOOTLEGGER achieved fame as the winner of the APBA Gold Cup in 1924 and 1925 and the Dodge Memorial Trophy in 1925.
Designed by George Crouch and built by Henry Nevins, the construction of BABY BOOTLEGGER was unique. The sides of the mahogany hull were rounded into the deck with a gradually changing curve from stem to stern. The advantage of this design was that it permitted the construction of a light and strong hull with a minimum of wind resistance.
The boat initially used a V-8 Hispano-Suiza engine, specifically the licensed Wright-Hisso version. Built with 719 cubic inch piston displacement, the engine was sleeved to meet the 625 cubic inch maximum of the day. The popular “Hisso” was used in the Spad aircraft during World War I.
The owner Caleb Bragg was a successful auto racer, a World War I test pilot, an officer of Wright Aeronautical, and–by all accounts–a most thorough engineer, he drove BABY BOOTLEGGER (G-5) posted heat speeds in the 50 mile an hour range.
BABY BOOTLEGGER may have won the 1924 Gold Cup by default on a technicality, but she and Caleb Bragg won the race “for real” in 1925 on Manhasset Bay at Long Island, New York. Nine boats showed up to do competitive battle that year with six of them using Packard power. Three 30-mile heats were run and three different boats won them: NUISANCE, BABY BOOTLEGGER, and MISS TAMPA.
Following an accurate, complete, and craftsman-like restoration by Mason and Bruce Barnard, BABY BOOTLEGGER was repowered with a rebuilt “Hisso” engine. It went on to win the Best of Show Awards at the Antique and Classic Boat Society gatherings in Clayton, New York, at Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire, and on Canada’s Muskoka Lakes in 1982. The restored BABY BOOTLEGGER is a fitting tribute to powerboat racing’s classic past and one of the few race boats from the 1920s still in running condition.