Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Making Mischief Mick Walton’s Racing Boat

In 1960, “Mischief” was Queensland’s fastest displacement hull racing boat, achieving a speed of 69.862 mph (112.4 kph) at Home Hill; an accomplishment recognised and recorded by the Australian Power Boat Association. “Mischief” was built especially for Clement Cecil Walton, (known as Mick) by Lewis Bros, Taren Point, Sydney.

For the boating enthusiasts amongst our readers - the boat had an Iskerdenan camshaft which is still regarded as one of the best in high performance racing. It also had an aircraft inertia starter motor which made it tricky to start. Other features included a centre-mounted 283 cubic inch Corvette engine with a capacity for speed; an upward angled propeller shaft and props placement to the rear of the transom.

The quest for speed in Unlimited Class Racing Skiff meant both vessels and driver were under great stress. At all times, the occupants had to use their weight and fight the torque (turning effect) generated by the engine.

Light and graceful in design, “Mischief” was a powerhouse, reaching unofficial speeds of 72 mph (116kph) over the quarter mile. The boat occasionally became airborne in great 20-to-30-foot leaps, jarring the two occupants from side to side as the skeg re-entered the water. Idling was not one of her talents.

Mick always carried a spare propellor because when “Mischief” leapt out of the water, she would spin the prop shaft.

Mick went through 14 co-pilots in one season until Charlie Law and Billy Trail came along. They both suffered broken ribs and were sometimes thrown out at high speed. Mick would leave the skiff on its trailer and one of the co-pilots, either Charlie Law or Billy Trail, would put XXXX cans up the twin exhausts. But according to Charlie, it was larrikins who would stuff empty beer cans up the exhaust pipes just to see how powerful an engine could react. Who the larrikins were, we will never really know. Not surprisingly, when the engine built up enough pressure it would fire up and shoot cans out of the pipes at great rate of knots.

Mick raced all over Queensland including Hutchinson Lagoon (Burdekin), Lake Elphingstone and Groper Creek and Shingley Beach where locals were treated to the thrills and spills of fast boats in action.  “Mischief” and Mick chalked up many successes, for example, on December 8, 1960, “they” won the Power Boat Associations’ Queensland Short Couse Displacement Championship in the unlimited cubic inch shift class hull section. Over the new year weekend of 1961, Mick won the Queensland State Championship comfortably in the final heat. During an elimination heat, one of the water-cooling hoses flew off but Charlie Law, who was riding with Mick, forced the hose back into position and held it there – they were a great team.

Over the years, “Mischief” and its crew certainly lived up to the name.

But for now, more than six decades later, “Mischief” is no longer making mischief! It rests in Stage Two of the Proserpine Historical Museum after being bequeathed from the estate of Mick’s wife, Dawn. “Mischief” has been carefully restored by museum volunteers and is waiting for you to have a peep into our museum where you can admire this piece of boating history and marvel at the talent of its owner and co-pilots.

Story and photo courtesy of Proserpine Historical Museum and Mr Jim Walton.

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