John Maddrell of Canton, Ohio
February 5, 2024 - 8:48pm
1956 Swift A-B hydro at Akron, Ohio
Sent by Karl Williams, “a little history” Part 137.
Thanks to John Maddrell for providing this history and photos.
The original buggy factory in 1894. Second building was the foundry and the third was the finished buggy and horse storage. Some buggies were exported to Cuba and Central America.
The Maddrell family started over here in the USA when my granddad came over from the Isle of Man in 1886. He went to work for a local hardware store in Waynesburg, Ohio that sold bicycles, buggies, and other hardware. In 1894 he started the Waynesburg Carriage Co. They made buggies there until 1923. Then they started selling Oldsmobiles in 1909, and then sold Ford Model Ts until 1922. Over the years they sold Overland, Star, Essex, Durant, Hudson, Plymouth, DeSoto, Pontiac, Buick, International and Opel. W.H. Maddrell retired in 1930 and my dad J.W. Maddrell took over the dealership. I was born on September 26, 1936 in Canton, Ohio, and spent most of my life in the car business. My dad ran it until he passed away in 1972. Then I took it over, until I sold the business in 1988. I spent most of my life at the garage and learned from the ground up.
John Maddrell & his dad W.H. Maddrell.
I also lived just two miles from a dragstrip. But I had enough of cars all week and wanted to go boat racing and not look at cars on my days off.
My interest in boat racing started in 1950 when I found an 8-foot pram, locally made out of a couple of sheets of plywood. It had been left by its owner near our local creek for anyone to use. I put my dad’s Chris-Craft 5 HP fishing engine on it and managed to get it on plane. It scared the hell out of me but I still made many trips up and down Big Sandy Creek—without a steering wheel, life jacket, or common sense.
(L) 1957, 3 firsts at race. (R) 1952- The Pabst, my first race boat.
My 1st boat race. 1952 Pabst BU on Big Sandy Creek, Waynesburg, Ohio.
(L) My 1954 kit boat. I put it together in an old building at Waynesburg Carriage Co. all by hand with a screwdriver and a gazillion brass screws.
(R) 1957 Henry’s Bend, Pa., three 1sts with my new SidCraft hydro.
During this time several WW2 vets got new Mercury KG7 engines, and they were far more interesting than the old Johnson and Evinrude engines.
Then I found a Boat Sport magazine and this really piqued my interest. I had seen a couple of races at Akron and decided I wanted to race boats.
1956 Clarion, Pa.
I chose a runabout for my first boat as I thought it would be better on rough water and I could scare the hell out of my friend I took for rides. I found a Pabst BU at the Mercury distributor in Akron, Ohio in 1952, and went to my first race on the Ohio River. I also used this boat for fishing. (In Ontario, Canada on Rice Lake, SE of Peterborough, I once caught a 36” Musky.)
I only ran three or four races in 1952-53 because I didn’t know anyone else who raced. The races I did attend were wildcat races on the Ohio River. In 1954 I built a Champion DU kit boat from California and went to my first APBA race in Toledo, Ohio. There I won my first trophy, for 3rd place.
In 1956 I traded the DU to a Mercury dealer in western Ohio for a new Swift A-B hydro and KG4. I took this combination to my first Michigan APBA race at Ecorse (just south of Detroit on the Detroit River) acquiring a 3rd place finish. I got to see Dean Chenoweth, Dave Thomas, Bill Holloway, Marilyn Donaldson, Hal Barnes, and many others. I also joined the Akron Outboard Association, where I met many local racers.
1960 Sid Craft BSH and BU on my TeeNee trailer towed with a 56 Buick Special.
Over my 67 years of racing I ran nine Stock classes, four Modified classes, and four PRO classes. I had 50 different racing boats, including Swift, Speed Liner, Sid-Craft, Sid Son, Karelsen, Champion, Giles, TecCraft, Pabst, Bezoats, Small, Sorensen, Pugh, and several others.
I raced in the Stock division until 1964. Then I bought an Anzani from Bill Tenney, and raced this engine for three years before returning to Stock. Around 1970 I raced Stock and Modified classes; and in 2000 I went to PRO classes: 125R, 125H, and 175H. I enjoyed racing in all three divisions, and met many great friends.
Over the years I tried many prop makers. Jack Kinsey, Sid Hanson (Sid was a barber, and when you got a prop from Sid it was wrapped in a barber’s towel), Papa Smith, John Czeplewski, Record, Craig Dewald, and others.
In 1957 with my new Sid-Craft A-B hydro I won High Point trophies in ASH, BSH and the A-B “free-for-all.” I was a supply officer in the Ohio National Guard, and summer training always came at the same time as the APBA Nationals, so I missed a lot of those title races except for the 1963 Boston Nationals. I qualified in BSH and CSH. I had heard many stories about inspector Edgar Rose, and after the elimination heats I thought sure he would find something wrong with my engines. Everything was OK. Due to rough water and bad starts I did not do well in the finals, however.
My first APBA Nationals, 1963, Boston, CSH.
In 1963 I finished 2nd at the Canadian Nationals (CBF) in CSH, being unable to beat the one CS Konig in the race. (It was owned and driven by Ray Ogier of Burlington/Hamilton, Ontario.)
Over the years I had many “almost first” place finishes, and finally won the AOF AMH Nationals in 1999 and the BMH Nationals in 2000.
Back and front covers of Speed & Spray magazine covering 1974 Stock Nationals, Dayton, Ohio. David Hoggard is in foreground, and John Maddrell on inside.
Seattle 1968 Stock Nationals AU Final heat
One of my most fun moments in racing was when I thought I would impress my gal friend from my days at Ohio U in 1958. I asked her to go to a race on the Ohio River. Sally’s dad was a professor at OU and she was a proper sorority gal. We got to the race and I decided to test my CSH. I made a couple of runs and did not see a river barge coming up the river. At full throttle I hit the huge wake and nosedived through it, taking fabric off the deck. I took Sally home and that was the last I ever heard from her. I don’t think she would have made a good pit crew.
I brought my college friend Sally (L) to a race at Pomroy, Ohio to impress her. I took my CSH out to test before the race on the Ohio River. River barges were common on the Ohio, and running full speed I didn’t see a barge wake and nosedived, tearing the fabric deck off my hydro (R). It ended my race day, and ended the possibility of ever seeing Sally again. Guess she wasn’t impressed with boat racing. Don’t think she would have made a good pit crew.
I did most of my Mercury engine work. Bill Tenney did the Anzani, Tom Moulder did the Hot Rods, and Steve Litzel did the VRPs. My favorite engine was the Champion Hot Rod.
My favorite race location was Hinton, West Virginia. I have attended all the races at this location since 1966. I met many nice local people and enjoyed the scenery. I still go back once in awhile and stay at a cabin in the park.
125 Runabout built by Tom Small, running with Larry Latta
I really enjoyed my 67 years of boat racing and met so many great friends. I would not know where to start as far as naming a best friend. Of course, I did bribe them with many cookies over the years. I started baking after I retired from the family car business in the 1980s.
Indiana Outboard news article on my cookie baking, written by John Sharp
1951 Customcraft 12′ runabout I built. Nice boat, but did not go fast enough so in 1952 I bought the Pabst BU.
1954 Champion kit boat at Erie, Pa.
1961 Canton Repository newspaper photo and text
15SSH, 1974 Nationals at Dayton, Ohio
1988 Karelsen 15SSH
2003 Ocoee, Florida, 125cc Pugh hydro
Bezoat B Hydro
Tim Small F-5, John Maddrell 300-S, Lake Placid, Florida
Constantine, Michigan poster
2011 Pro Nationals, DePue, Illinois