A 266 RACING HYDROPLANE
This historic hydroplane is one of the few restored Hydros with it’s original engine intact, from half a century ago. Roman Candle raced continuously from 1962 to 1970. She was built by Jack Colcock of Seattle for Lou Nuta Jr of Miami in 1961 and conformed to the new 266 rules for 1962, requiring a minimum length of 18 feet.
In Nuta’s capable hands, Roman Candle won the Gold Coast Marathon in 1966 (Miami to West Palm and back) at a record speed of 81 mph for 124 miles . He also won the northbound leg in 1964. Nuta and the Candle were Division 5 High point Champions in the late 60’s. The Candle was a major force in hydro racing East of the Mississippi in such places as New Orleans, Columbus and Cincinnati Ohio, Rahleigh NC., Red Bank New Jersey and all over Florida especially Miami Marine Stadium where she was a local favorite.
According to one of her drivers, Milner Irving and vintage magazine articles of the era, the 266 rules allowed the move to a 302 around 1970, when Nuta quit as driver of the Candle. Lou then leased the boat to his engine builder, David Irwin, who drove or raced her into the mid seventies. Irwin built some amazing and very special racing engines to power the Candle, including the one currently in the boat. Over the years Nuta and/or Irwin recruited others to drive Candle, so that many noted pilots drove the boat, including Milner Irvin, Sherm Polhamus and Roger D’Eath.
When Lou Nuta Jr. died in the early 1990’s, Roman Candle and her very special racing engine were sold and she eventually passed into the hands of noted raceboat collector Jeff Magnuson of Alfred, Maine. Jeff began a complete rebuild of the boat, with a new bottom, replacing the longitudinals and a new plywood running surface. Much of the structure of the boat was rebuilt to Jeff’s high standards. Jeff then stored the boat until it was sold to Gerry Davidson in October 2007. Gerry continued with the rebuild, replacing all of the deck longitudinals and a new ribbon striped African Mahogany plywood deck.
Gerry had the cowlings beautifully restored and began studying the bones of the Candle’s rare and exceptional Chevrolet 302 racing engine. Most of Gerry’s pals suggested buying a new crate engine and dropping it into the Candle. But the more her learned about the 302 engine, Gerry realized it would elevate the Candle into a very special place among old hydros. Virtually none of the old hydros have their original engines. After much consideration, Gerry sent the 302 out for rebuild, to R & L Engines of Dover, NH. During the rebuild, R&L used the original engine block and the Mondello ported heads. Today she is back running with her proper setup, including vintage Hilborn Fuel Injection and Vertex Magneto. She has 12.5:1 compression, nice vintage headers and she absolutely loves to run on racing fuel. Now that she is restored, Gerry keeps ROMAN CANDLE in impeccable condition. Recently, vintage drivers Tommy D’Eath, Peter Kreissle and Dick Daly have run her at speeds over 100 MPH. ROMAN CANDLE is currently on exhibit at the New Hampshire Boat Museum and will make a rare appearance on the water at the Wolfeboro Vintage Race Boat Regatta, on September 12-14, 2013. ROMAN CANDLE is being offered for sale at $50.000 to a lucky enthusiast.