Tag Archives: speedboats

5,000 Mile Trip in a Dee Wite

In an era long before our on-demand news and non-stop advertising, boat manufacturers often resorted to a coordinated publicity stunt in order to break into the public consciousness. Gar Wood and Dart raced speedy passenger trains, Huckins coordinated a cruiser race up the Atlantic coast (which Kermath also used to their advertising advantage), and Dee Wite sponsored an ambitious 5,000 mile endurance run of the Great Loop, from Detroit to the Atlantic, across the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes and back to Detroit.

Motor Boating magazine, Nov. 1930

The endurance run stunt had been used before, but in late-1930 Dee Wite grabbed extra publicity by featuring two young ladies as pilots for the first (and most publicized) half of the journey. The trip was overseen by the APBA and well-coordinated to maximize the marketing potential, with photographers, reporters, and film cameras at every stop along the way.

Press photo, RBR archives

Maude Hughes and Peggy Radcliffe were chosen for the job due to their experience racing at regattas throughout the country. They began their trip in Detroit, Michigan in early November, 1930, not necessarily the most ideal time of year to start a 5,000-mile journey, but a timely lead-up to the NYC National Motor Boat Show in January. Maude and Peggy were piloting a 22-ft Dee Wite powered by an 8-cylinder Lodge motor, which required gaskets replaced and broken valve springs replaced during the trip.

Press photo, RBR archives

They reached New York by November 3 and Miami by November 15. At Miami they passed the baton to a second team of Dee Wite employees, who continued across the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi to St. Louis. This is as far as the ice would permit them, forcing them to abandon the ambitious original goal of reaching Detroit. The official mileage covered was 4,430 miles, with a run time of 248 hours and two minutes. The stunt apparently had the desired result, as Dee Wite reported record sales numbers in the March 1931 issue of Motor Boating magazine.

Press photo, RBR archives