© 2021 dragboatfever.com - steve@dragboatfever.com
June 1995 – Hot Boat Magazine King of the Customs Jim Cole continues to refine the art of hot rod boat-building By Kevin Spaise To fully understand Jim Cole’s unique position in today’s custom universe, you have to look at where he’s been.  The 55-year-old Cole, a sometimes irascible figure that is universally respected in the industry for the show-quality work turned out by his Chatsworth, California, custom compound, helped pioneer and prove many of the bottom, hull and hardware designs taken for granted on today’s drag and pleasure boats. His interest in performance boating was kindled at a young age.  As a preteen, Cole became fascinated with his father’s family pleasure boat.  By age 16, Cole had his own lake ride, a Byers flat-bottom that he dismantled piece by piece and updated and refined.  Before he could legally drive a car, Cole was running the Byers down the race course at Bakersfield’s Hart Park,  the birth-place of dragboat racing. Those modest beginnings became the foundation for the creation of one of the most dominant names in dragboat history.   Cole hulls have held more quarter-mile records than any purpose-built design in history and even today continue to set records between the lights.  Rick Jackson’s high-tech capsule “Up Tight II”, featured on our cover and elsewhere in this issue, is an example.  It has held both ends of the international Hot Boat Association’s speed at ET records with Greg Cooper at the wheel. Today cole concentrates largely on the pleasure boat end of his business, but his heart is never far from dragboat racing. “A lot of people don’t realize that the reason my family boats perform so well is that they were developed at the drags.” He says. “We’d try anything we thought would work.  Most of it didn’t, of course, but when we hit on something, it was never long before it showed up on lake boats.” The runner-bottom has become the staple of the performance flat-bottom lake boat, and it was among the most significant technological advances pioneered for the quarter-mile racers.  Working with Ray Caselli , one of the winningest and most talented flat-bottom racers in history, Cole says he nailed a plywood center keel to the formerly flat-bottom of his hull, fabricated an outside chine at a 45-degree angle and glassed it over.  Though other accounts of the design’s development depend upon individual recognition, upon this issue there is no debate: The first crude runner-bottom was an instant success.  Cole’s early generation runner design, the basic configuration of which is still in place today in his wildly successful TR-4 paved the way for the first of more than 400 records set by Cole drag boats. It also became a flash point of technological war between Cole, Sanger’s Jack Davidson and Larry Schwabenland, and Hondo’s Irv Brendel.  Cole had worked under Brendel for a time, and after he broke off on his own, the three companies became entrenched in a bitterly contested battle that spilled from the race-course to the pleasure boating arena.  At the track, charges and countercharges of stolen secrets and designs were constantly circulating through the pits.  Each had successes. Of the three, Cole focused least on the recreational market at that time. “Irv Brendel was a very savvy businessman and he knew how to market technology,” says Cole. “We’d come up with something on the racecourse, and every year, Irv would release a little bit of it to the family market.  Every year he had something to sell. But there was no denying Cole’s domination of the flat-bottom market during certain periods of the time line.  One of Cole's most stunning innovations was his series of Spooky flat-bottoms, perhaps the best known and singularly most successful series in flat-bottom history.  At one point in the early 70s, Cole’s Spooky driven by Nick Seftku , won an incredible 29 straight races.  Sunny Jones ran with Cole for a time, as did Al Bush. Brendel is long since out of the game (his son Mike, a former world-record-setting flat-bottom driver, founded  Brendella Boats), and Sanger now focuses exclusively on tournament ski boats.  Cole began to seriously focus on the recreational market in 1985 by developing a series of lake flat-bottoms and hydros designed to maximize the potential of technology developed on the racecourse.  His is the only shop of any volume con- …..  
© 2021 dragboatfever.com - steve@dragboatfever.com
June 1995 – Hot Boat Magazine King of the Customs Jim Cole continues to refine the art of hot rod boat-building By Kevin Spaise To fully understand Jim Cole’s unique position in today’s custom universe, you have to look at where he’s been.  The 55-year-old Cole, a sometimes irascible figure that is universally respected in the industry for the show-quality work turned out by his Chatsworth, California, custom compound, helped pioneer and prove many of the bottom, hull and hardware designs taken for granted on today’s drag and pleasure boats. His interest in performance boating was kindled at a young age.  As a preteen, Cole became fascinated with his father’s family pleasure boat.  By age 16, Cole had his own lake ride, a Byers flat-bottom that he dismantled piece by piece and updated and refined.  Before he could legally drive a car, Cole was running the Byers down the race course at Bakersfield’s Hart Park,  the birth-place of dragboat racing. Those modest beginnings became the foundation for the creation of one of the most dominant names in dragboat history.   Cole hulls have held more quarter-mile records than any purpose-built design in history and even today continue to set records between the lights.  Rick Jackson’s high-tech capsule “Up Tight II”, featured on our cover and elsewhere in this issue, is an example.  It has held both ends of the international Hot Boat Association’s speed at ET records with Greg Cooper at the wheel. Today cole concentrates largely on the pleasure boat end of his business, but his heart is never far from dragboat racing. “A lot of people don’t realize that the reason my family boats perform so well is that they were developed at the drags.” He says. “We’d try anything we thought would work.  Most of it didn’t, of course, but when we hit on something, it was never long before it showed up on lake boats.” The runner-bottom has become the staple of the performance flat-bottom lake boat, and it was among the most significant technological advances pioneered for the quarter-mile racers.  Working with Ray Caselli , one of the winningest and most talented flat-bottom racers in history, Cole says he nailed a plywood center keel to the formerly flat-bottom of his hull, fabricated an outside chine at a 45-degree angle and glassed it over.  Though other accounts of the design’s development depend upon individual recognition, upon the issue there is no debate: The first crude runner-bottom was an instant success.  Cole’s early generation runner design, the basic configuration of which is still in place today in his wildly successful TR-4 pave the way for the first of more than 400 records set by Cole drag boats. It also became a flash point of technological war between Cole, Sanger’s Jack Davidson and Larry Schwabenland, and Hondo’s Irv Brendel.  Cole had worked under Brendel for a time, and after he broke off on his own, the three companies became entrenched in a bitterly contested battle that spilled from the race-course to the pleasure boating arena.  At the track, charges and countercharges of stolen secrets and designs were constantly circulating through the pits.  Each had successes. Of the three, Cole focused least on the recreational market at that time. “Irv Brendel was a very savvy businessman and he knew how to market technology,” says Cole. “We’d come up with something on the racecourse, and every year, Irv would release a little bit of it to the family market.  Every year he had something to sell. But there was no denying Cole’s domination of the flat-bottom market during certain periods of the time line.  One of Cole's most stunning innovations was his series of Spooky flat-bottoms, perhaps the best known and singularly most successful series in flat-bottom history.  At one point in the early 70s, Cole’s Spooky driven by Nick Seftku , won an incredible 29 straight races.  Sunny Jones ran with Cole for a time, as did Al Bush. Brendel is long since out of the game (his son Mike, a former world-record-setting flat-bottom driver, founded  Brendella Boats), and Sanger now focuses exclusively on tournament ski boats.  Cole began to seriously focus on the recreational market in 1985 by developing a series of lake flat-bottoms and hydros designed to maximize the potential of technology developed on the racecourse.  His is the only shop of any volume con- …..