Office of Public Affairs
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Sept. 13, 2000
OSWEGO -- When Peter Hunn of Oswego State's communication studies department was 5 years old, a family visit to the Adirondacks led him into a lifelong love affair with outboard motors. That passion has resulted in his third book on the subject, published this summer by Devereux Books of Marblehead, Mass.
Ever since he sat in the stern of a boat on Lake Champlain and the outboard motor "seemed like it was singing a little tune to me," the Fulton resident said, he has read about, collected and restored the motors.
By the time he was 12, he had amassed a collection of about 200 motors. His parents convinced him to seek quality over quantity, so he specialized in racing motors and the groundwork was set for the current publication.
"The Golden Age of the Racing Outboard" is a 220-page softcover book packed with illustrations and photos of old motors, boats and advertising. It is the only book in English that covers the subject. This summer, Hunn heard from an author in France who was also publishing a history of the sport in French.
A kick-off presentation for "The Golden Age of the Racing Outboard" was part this summer's Antique Race Boat Regatta at the Clayton Antique Boat Museum. The author spoke about the post-World War II recreational culture that spawned outboarding competition on nearly every bay, river and pond in North America.
"The sport was covered quite frequently by the sports press," Hunn said. "It was not uncommon to read about it in the New York Times."
He added that in the 1930s, "most colleges worth their salt" had outboard racing teams, including Syracuse University. The SU team raced on Onondaga and Oneida lakes against such foes as Princeton.
Locally, Regan's Silver Lake was a popular spot for racers because of its calm surface. In fact several veteran outboard racers cited the lake during an interview with Hunn as their all-time pick for a "perfect" racing venue.
Hunn and his wife, Carol, are now building a home at Silver Lake.
Hunn spent two years researching and writing "The Golden Age of the Racing Outboard," which includes a wealth of insider information about key motor manufacturers such as Mercury, Johnson and Evinrude. Additionally, he chronicled dozens of racing boat makers that thrived from the late 1920s through the end of the Eisenhower era.
In addition to a historical overview, the book includes an alphabetical listing of all American manufacturers of boats and motors.
Jim Ford of Oswego State's Instructional Technologies Center helped prepare the photographs used to illustrate the book.
Next year, Hunn plans to come out with "The Vintage Culture of Outboard Racing," also published by Devereux.
His earlier books include two versions of "The Old Outboard Book," published by McGraw-Hill's International Marine Division. The latter edition is available in Penfield Library at Oswego State.
"The Golden Age of the Racing Outboard" will be available at the River's Edge Bookstore in Oswego. It sells for $34.95.
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