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John Woods


Our family had always been a bit nautical. We spent the month of July as children in Northern Michigan, Northport and Harbor Springs. One of my father’s business associates joined with my father and built a 60’ sailboat. We spent a great deal of time on the water. We also had a number of small runabouts, typically powered by 10-30hp outboard motors. The rig I remember most was the 16’ Dunphy originally with a 15hp Chris-Craft commander motor and later exchanged at my urging for a more powerful 30hp Johnson Javelin the year they were first manufactured. I was always encouraging my father to increase the horsepower of the family runabout over the years. In the mid 1950’s, while attending John Burroughs School (7th-12th grades), a major industrial arts shop project was required for graduation. Through the assistance of the teacher, Howard Blossom, a classmate and old friend of my father’s, I decided to build a small 8’ in length hot rod hydroplane. The plans were from a Popular Science magazine article. My father said that if I did a good job, he would provide a suitable engine as a Christmas present. Evidently I passed muster as there was a shinny KG7-H Mercury outboard motor under the tree that next Christmas morning. The boat painted yellow with red and blue trim was named the Judy-J after then girlfriend, later wife, Judy Hunkins Woods. She still puts up with me after nearly 50 years! Having no help from any family members, I learned the hard way. In fact, the first two years I don’t think I finished a race. The things that went wrong are too numerous to mention. Finally in the early 60’s, out of school and gainfully employed, I could afford some first class store bought equipment. One of my many mentors, O.F. Christner from Quincy Illinois, proved to be most helpful in providing competitive racing engines. Bill and Ralph DeSilva, as well as Mickey Starego and Sid Uretzsky of the Sidcraft Boat Company and later Nick Marchetti and Ron Jones provided some top notch hydroplanes and racing runabouts. About 1960 I had Quincy Welding build a large tandem axled racing trailer that could haul 7 boats and 20 motors. Allen Smith, Don Henrich, and Pop Seebold propellers were mounted on the Front inside of the motor box. Tools, equipment, five gallon cans of racing fuel and just about everything under the sun that would be needed at the race site was contained inside the huge trailer. (Just like Quincy Welding’s) It also had a 100 gallon auxiliary fuel tank between the axels with a pump which could keep our high horsepower Pontiacs from stopping at many filling stations while on the road. Beginning when the ice melted in early March we would start testing, usually at Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis County. With the assistance and guidance from mentors like Johnny Dortch, Kenny Nicholas, George Huntington, Joe Benoist, Walter Courtois, Ralph Tussler, Dick O’Dea, Bill Seebold and numerous others (including the gang at Quincy) our racing team became very competitive. Looking back, the period of the late 50’s through the early 70’s was a very competitive era in outboard boat racing. Often the various championship events would have 40-50-60 or more entrants in each class. This would create the need for multiple elimination heats, where at times only the 1st and 2nd place heat finishers would qualify for the finals. Our racing team seemed to thrive on this exceptional level of competition. We truly had a team that worked unselfishly in an effort to win. Because of some knee injuries from both football and motorcycle racing, I eventually moved into the 225 inboard hydroplane class. Sitting in the bucket seat of an inboard was easier on my aging body than kneeling on plywood. I will always remember with great fondness the many wonderful racers, friends and associates I met during my nearly 40 years in boat racing. While racing Judy and I raised four children….. and now have eight grandchildren. Some of my other interests over the years have been hunting, fishing, gun collecting and many other outdoor activities. I’m also a collector……… of lots of different “things”. If you’re not a collector, you wouldn’t understand but the short answer is if it’s 100 years old I will like it! Our family is currently building a miniature railroad on family property in south central Missouri. If interested check out our web site at . I’d be interested to speak with or e-mail with anyone about the past. Thank You, John or as some still call me ….. Johnny

1965 Article


John Woods broke 3 world records during his first 5 years racing outboards.

John with Momma Smith


Passing of a Great Race Legend

johnwood obit.jpg

Taken from John R. Woods obituary: Woods, John Riner died Thursday, October 16, 2008 doing one of the things he loved most...riding his motorcycle. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Judy Hunkins Woods and their four children, John Jr., Cathy, Julie, and Laura; and eight beautiful grandchildren, Margaret, Matthew, Peyton, Kelsey, Lexie Bowe, Fletcher, Aidan and Campbell; his sister, Elizabeth Woods Bradbury, with whom he was especially close; and by two brothers, James Woods Jr. and David Woods. He was preceded in death by his parents James H. Woods and Marjorie Hawkins Woods. John had an adventurous and enthusiastic spirit, demonstrated by an infinite number of interests. John's career in the financial industry spanned 48 years, including E. F. Hutton, Smith Barney and Stout Industries. He served on many boards and was a champion of many causes. His family will especially miss his positive, generous and loving spirit, his can-do attitude and his unrelenting pursuit of excellence. His memory and legacy will live in our hearts forever. Services: A Memorial Service will be held 10:30 a.m. Monday, October 20 at Central Presbyterian Church, 7701 Davis Dr., Clayton, MO 63105. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Central Presbyterian Church Building Fund. Service of THE LUPTON CHAPEL.

John R. Woods at the 2007 Boat Racers Reunion


John and his brother Dave were loyal Quincy Welding customers for years. Their trailer was an exact copy of the QW trailer except it was painted BLUE. John even drove Quincy Welding's boats during Jim Schoch's leave of absence. While he was the wealthiest man most of us knew on a friend to friend basis, John never flaunted his wealth. We were all very comfortable being around him.... Gene East, former Quincy Welding employee. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Baldwin)

John's DeSilva flat-deck Runabout


DeSilva flat-deck class C/D racing runabout owned by John Woods that is esentially identical to the boat John raced as a factory driver for Quincy Welding in the 1960s. John named his boat "Speculation" as he was a successful stock broker and had a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. When John retired from racing, he sold his racing equipment, including the boat. He later regretted parting with the boat, so in 1973 he went back to DeSilva and asked them to build a clone of his first boat. They reluctantly agreed, but after building the boat for Woods, they sent out a bulletin to their customers emphatically stating that they would not be building any more flat-deck runabouts. So this boat is confirmed to be the last flat-deck runabout built by DeSilva. The boat was displayed until years after his death in a barn. It has never been in water and did not have a motor mounted on it until after it was aquired by Mark Suter to add to the Quincy Welding Corner of his collection.