F Service Runabout, Curt Brayer, and Dancing Bear

Curt designed, built, drove, and turned the wrenches on his Wood Race Boat, Dancing Bear. He designed and built this racer over a two year period along the banks of the Miami River while he was the sales Manager at the Merrill-Stevens Yacht Company.


racing boat f service runabout

Record Holder F Service Runabout

Curt came to Florida in 1963 after racing his boat, The Violator, in Buffalo, NY, earlier in the 1950-1960s time frame with time out for military service for the Berlin Crisis. He also has spent time in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Before boat racing, Curt raced Stock Cars and Motorcycles for years. Quite the mechanic, Curt likes tuning multiple carbs. Dancing Bear has six Strombergs on a log-type manifold on a 1957 392 cubic inch Hemi. In the theme of F Service Runabout class rules the engine is under 400 inches in displacement and $1,500 cost in cost.

Hemi powered circle race boat

1957 Hemi 392

My photos were taken at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York during the Race Boat Regatta that is held every other year in August. Curt seems to be at the  Vintage Boat Racing effort on the St. Lawrence River in the N Y  side of the Thousand Islands area all the time.

flat bottom circle wood raceboat

Foward passenger cockpit that can be covered with a long fitted wood deck

I really love the either long wood covered or the padded vinyl uncovered front bench seat set-up in front of the main/driver’s cockpit. Sitting behind your guests while driving  is the right idea in my book. Let them have to turn around and twist their necks to hold a conversation!

driver's cockpit is set back behind the passenger seating

The driver is set far back in the boat ans close to the engine

One Response to “F Service Runabout, Curt Brayer, and Dancing Bear”

  • Jay Carl Booth:

    I was fortunate as a 10 to 12 year old helper kid at Miami Marine Stadium see the Bear run in many over a 4 year period 1969 to 1973 in F and E Service combined races the Bear was by far the class of the F service race boats. I was the helper kid on our family friend Dick Kieser’s F service Red Head, we raced against Mona Daily and her daughter Randy, (F & E service you had to have a riding mechanic) Kurt, Ted Newiller E Service, Chuck Rookie Woodruff E service, and Dick Sutton, jut to name a few. The class was dwindling at this time, fading away to the SK’s and the SS’s. The Bear was a dominator, FIRC held a drag boat race I believe in 1971 they held it two time’s, the first event Kurt beat Ed Bradfield’s SK Boat Tangarey in the first race it was unreal, Bradfield won the next one a few months later, those were the only drag races at the stadium. The Bear was a great race boat, and Kurt was a beast of a driver he was a huge guy, the Bear at Miami’s Marine Stadium from 1969 to 1970s was a beautiful site. I miss both of them. Truly a legendary race boat.

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