Pip's next racer was a '63 Switzer Shooting STAR that
looked a lot like a corn picker with an inside-out 3 point hydro bottom
which he acquired from a rather husky boat racing friend we will call Ben.
He could get this monster up to eighty on a Keller speedometer with a DR
Merc 800 speedmaster (legal in sport H) but it took all day.
Ben had made many trips to the Switzer factory and
got acquainted with a former employee who was building wood boats in his
garage: and Ben bought one with Pip tapped to drive since it improved the
weight to power ratio. This led to Pip striking a distributor
agreement with the former employee - who we will refer to as FE - since FE
was wanting to go to fiberglass and needed capital and a large market.
Pip took a load of product through St. Louis and
stopped to see one of Mercury's hot shoe drivers. The guy told Pip about
an offshore race near Miami where an Italian plywood full tunnel (dihedral
catamaran) blew everybody away and he sketched the bottom on a brown paper
bag. In six months this sketch would lead to the creation of the Panther.
While at a local dealer dropping off boats Pip was informed that FE was
doing an end run on the distributor agreement. It was a long trip
home, especially since Pip about that time was testing a plug (that's
pattern for fiberglass mold) he had built to solve a lot of the problems
customers were having waterskiing with their shiny metalflake water
rockets. All that work was not going to be turned over to FE while
the knife was still in Pip's back. That plug became the HydroStream
Wildcat using the brand name from the boat designed back in high school.
Last fall I saw what I thought was a Ventura but
turned out to be a Panther and I bought it. It is great fun with the
1000 Merc that came with it; but Pip says with about 125HP it flies and is
a riot to the point that you can't get the bugs off your teeth.
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