Pittsfield’s first race with speed boats, driven by special motors developing speed up to 60 miles an hour on a mixture of castor oil, alcohol and other non-critical fuels, will be Sunday afternoon at 2:30 at Pontoosuc Lake. Five local boats, and possibly a few visiting craft, will race three laps of a triangular mile in two heats. Headquarters will be at Ferris’s Restaurant.

Thus another national sport comes to Pittsfield, and it is brought by war conditions. Until this season, Berkshire Outboard Racing Association members were content to drive ordinary recreational motors in their hydroplane and runabout jobs. But gasoline rationing increased demand for stock motors which burn other fuels, and with them speed competition.

These motors are precision instruments, temperamental and requiring expert care to “build up” and maintain efficiency. Greasy and grimy work between weekends pays dividends at meets. Local boat owners have competed this summer at Breton Woods, Carlstadt and Secaucus, N.J., against many of the top flight racers of the country.

There will be four formal classes in the Sunday meet: Class A, B and C hydroplanes and Class C runabouts. Boats of C class theoretically are fastest, but a B boat sometimes steals the whole show.

Local boat owners who have entered, and the class of their boats: Ernest Bertrand, C hydroplane; Frank Przewoznik, A hydroplane; Kenneth F. Wich, B hydroplane; David Coffey, C runabout; Gareth G. Somerville, C hydroplane. It is hoped that others may be attracted, although the race must be limited owing to gas rationing which restricts transportation of boats.

The exact composition of the special non-critical fuel used in the stock motors is a secret of the commercial producers. But the four principal elements are alcohol, benzol, castor oil and acetone. The fuel is produced specially for outboard use.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989. She can be reached at jmaschino@berkshireeagle.com.