Fast Facts: Hydroplane Racing at Salton Sea

One of Southern California’s largest inland waterways apparently doubles as the home of hydroplane and speedboat racing.

National Motorist, in its January/February 1950 issue, proclaimed Salton Sea to be “the fastest body of water in the world for speedboat racing.”

Boat racing enthusiasts reportedly flocked to Salton Sea more than 20 years earlier for a speedboat race of the ages.

The Salton Sea Boat Race – held Dec. 14, 1929 – not only drew a large crowd but also delivered excitement on the water.

“The Salton Sea Boat Race … was particularly exciting because rough waters at regattas at Lake Elsinore and Long Beach that year had kept down speed and there was great expectation that records would fall at Salton Sea,” an entry in “The Salton Sea: California’s Overlooked Treasure” stated. “Prizes included the $450 Mackay Circuit Trophy, the $400 trophies awarded by Richfield Oil Co., and the $500 Warren S. Ripple prize, offered for the first Johnson motor to make 50 miles per hour.”

Nearly 2,000 people attended the event, according to a newspaper report of the race. Most of those in attendance, according to the report, were “outside people with not as many locals as expected.”

Five new world records were set at the Salton Sea Boat Race, according to the narrative in “The Salton Sea: California’s Overlooked Treasure.”

The book’s author goes on to state three members of the Salton Sea Yacht Club invented hydroplane racing at around the same time.

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