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1987 Miss Bugweiser

by Walt Ottenad on Aug.02, 1987, under Boat Racing, Lake Washington, Unlimited Hydroplane Onboard, Video

The 1987 Seafair race was special for close friend John Gotschall and I as we spent about three weeks building the “Miss Bugweiser” to finally get out on the Log Boom to see the race close-up and party our asses off as well. We started with an old Bug body and built a pickle-fork platform with styrofoam floats underneath and a plywood deck to bolt it to. See the video

The “Bugweiser” ended up with a paint job and stickers to exactly match the then current Miss Bud, a wing in back and tailpipe to match the turbine’s, two seats bolted to the floor, a working stereo and electrical system, a 25hp Evinrude bolted to the back underneath the tailpipe, with a working steering system and 10 gallon stock VW fuel tank. See the video

We towed it from John’s house above Rainier Ave. to the boat launch at S. Ferdinand St., launched it on Saturday morning (it floated PERFECTLY) and immediately started toward the Log Boom, where we “accidentally” steered onto the race course side of the boom and proceeded all the way along the length of the it, partying and laughing the entire way! See the video

After cruising along the shore and into Lake Union where we left the “Bug” for the night, we were incredibly bummed to find that upon starting the motor on race day, the shear pin on the prop broke, leaving the motor running, but the prop wasn’t spinning! Well, being top-notch radio installers, we did the best with what we had – we made a new shear pin by cutting our antenna off at the right point in its diameter to fit the hole in the prop shaft, and off we went – WAY LATE for the races! But, once out on Lake Washington at the Montlake Cut, we hitched a ride toward the racecourse with what had to be the biggest tugboat on the lake, which threw up the BIGGEST wake on the lake, almost destroying the Bugweiser. But after an hour of motoring, we arrived at the Log Boom, buzzed as we could be by noon, and ended up partying the rest of the day with friends (and who’s not a friend on the log boom at Seafair?).See the video

Once the race was over, in an alcohol induced flash of brilliance, I decided that it would be a GREAT idea to motor the “Miss Bug” over to the pits so we could get a shot of Jim Kropfeld (the winner of Seafair) on the deck of our boat! And amazingly, I did just that – completely disregarding every verbal instruction from every course boat on the way, we motored over to Stan Sayres pits, drove up to the dock outside the Budweiser’s pit, and I’ll be damned if Jim didn’t come over and pose for a shot on the Miss Bug!

After that, it was back to the boat launch to load up and go home, which didn’t occur till well after nightfall (have you ever thought about exactly HOW you get an Unlimited Volkswagen back ONTO the trailer again???)

John and I had all intentions to make this an annual affair, but sadly our company went out of business and we had nowhere to store the Bug, so it was left outside, and over the course of the next year was destroyed by people who just didn’t realize how special she was…

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2 Comments for this entry

  • Neil3

    I saw Miss Bugweiser in person…Very Cool!!

    Miss Bugweiser lent a superfluous fun-for-all flair to the Seafair ‘87 festivities! Cheers!!

    Neil
    Alaska

  • John

    Hey Walt,

    That was one of the best experiences of my life, what a complete blast we had! OMG! Thanks so much for keeping this record of that event. As I view these videos I laugh so hard my eyes tear up!!

    I wonder if any of those people who remember seeing and photographing the Miss Bugweiser might be able to find, scan and send to us those pictures they might still have of the Miss Bug. I know I’d love to see them posted here. Over the years I have heard people say more than a few times “Hey I remember seeing that Mis Bug at Seafair on the log boom..” from people I don’t know at all.

    Thanks again Walt, for those amazing fun days.

    John Gotschall

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