The 1968 Checkmate going wild in this old photo was out to win a race back in the late 1960s. Her owner/driver was Tommy Bailey, one of the racers who had a major impact on the history of outboard boat racing, as many boat builders went to fiberglass instead of wood.
The race was held in front of Captain Sam’s in St. Mary’s, MD. Tommy Bailey is still in Maryland and will be at the upcoming Classic Race Boat Event at the Calvert Marine Museum listed on these PropTalk racing pages. Tommy and other members of his race club still have the old boats, lived the action of Chesapeake Bay racing at its beginnings, and would love to talk with you at that event.
Checkmate boats are still in business, although they no longer make this model. This particular race boat came from its plant in Bucyrus, OH. The 13-footer was one of several variations that Checkmate built: first a 16-foot model, followed by a 15-foot design. When a racing rule change allowed for 13-foot racers, Combs, the owner and founder of Checkmate Boats, came out with this length at the same time that E&T Marine in Maryland did.
There is a rumor that the first Checkmate 16 was very similar to one of the Lone Star Mustang models, but with a fiberglass/balsa core bottom. Neither of these boats look like the 13-foot boat in this article.
Lone Star started building boats in Grand Prairie, TX, but moved to Plano, TX, later. While Lone Star built boats as early as 1945, its first fiberglass model was not introduced until 1952. Lone Star and West Bend outboards became a part of Chrysler Marine in 1965. Chrysler eventually sold all its marine businesses in 1979, as a condition of getting a huge government loan.
A 50 hp Mercury Marine two-stroke outboard powers this Checkmate, although it’s a year or two older than the boat’s model year. This class ran about 55 miles per hour wide open in a race, with speeds hitting over 60 mph in some cases.
by Chris “Seabuddy” Brown