As I was researching another "fast" Campbell, I was told that I needed to go see a guy in Havasu who might have information on an even faster Campbell. Since I was going to be in town anyway, what could it hurt to see if this "rumor" was true or just another beach story?? My inside source said the guy I needed to talk to was, Frank Weaver Jr. owner and operator of a top quality upholstery shop named after his sister, Jeanies Upholstery (930 Port Drive, Lake Havasu City).
Frank Jr. stopped mid seam to share the story of his father?s Allison powered Campbell. Frank Sr. ran an upholstery shop on McDowell Road in Phoenix in the 50's-60's and always had plenty of hotrods and hotboats in the shop to have work done.
Frank Sr. ordered a 24ft (all wood) runabout hull from Bob and Billy Campbell in 1963. The plan was to have the boat ready to go for the infamous Parker Enduro. Frank Sr. had built several drag boats and just happened to have access to an Allison 12 cylinder engine that needed a home. Since there was no off the shelf equipment to run this monster, Frank Sr. made his own V-drive to get the power to the prop.
The Allison engine used in this Campbell was an aircraft derivative but actually Allison motors had roots in auto racing (the original assembly plant was built on grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway). Allison's were popular in marine applications before World War II came around which then changed the focus of the company. In the 50's and 60's Allison motors were in large supply as a result of war surplus. There is one story floating around that the Japanese bought over 600 of them for the metal in the bearings. The motors were taken apart on the trip back to Japan and dumped overboard once the valuable material was obtained!!
Frank Sr's Allison was reported to be worth somewhere between 1000-1200hp as it sat in the boat. The sound was said to be the most unusual sound as it wound up prior to the juice being stuck to it and she lit off. As race day arrived, the wind began to blow and the river saw 3 foot swells across the course. Franks wife was standing on the beach filming with her 8mm movie camera as the boat came down the course, haulin ass!! The crowd that had gathered at the water's edge to watch the big engined boat run in the terrible conditions, in hushed voices, the crowd could be heard to say, "There's NO WAY we can beat that boat!!!" The no named boat, suddenly had a fitting name.
Frank Jr. remembers that the boat ran comfortably at 90mph and was said to have a top end somewhere north of 120mph which, if confirmed, would most certainly put "No Way" in competition for the title of the, "Fastest Campbell" ever built. Allison powered boats were not new at the time but Frank Sr's creation is thought to be the only Campbell boat with such a setup. Unfortunately the boat never saw competition that day as the race was cancelled due to water and weather conditions. The boat and Allison engine were later sold to a fella in the Phoenix where it met an untimely demise on Lake Manzanita, burning to the water line. As of today, the location of the Allison engine is unknown, but I thought the story and pictures were a great and worth sharing.
Words by Bob Steele (aka RickyBobby)