by Roark Summerford:
Laser Boats of Texas was the Parent Company that had a race boat division to attract attention to its bass and pleasure boats. The race boats started as one-off tunnel boats and V bottom race boats. Finally, in 1981 APBA recognized that a large group, mixed of V bottom, and semi-tunnel type boats, could be a single class. The result was the start of the Mod VP class. In this class V bottom, and tunnel boats with a center pod, made of fiberglass, could compete against each other. Laser needed a new bass boat and with a little work the 380 Ray was built. The 380 Ray was a race boat that could be used as a bass boat, ski boat, and a really good handling V bottom race boat. The first 380 Ray was done just in time for the 1982 Havasau Classic held on Thanksgiving weekend. It was the only Mercury powered boat in a field of 25 boats. The 380 Ray powered by the Mercury blew the field away by finishing a full lap ahead of the field. The 380 Ray was used in the 83-race season and won the over-all title. It was also evident, that to remain on top of the Mod VP class, it was going to take a tunnel boat. Late in the 1983 race-season, I took a wrecked 380 Ray race-boat and sectioned it by dropping the sides around the veed center. The 18 ft. Vnosed Mod VP boat was born. This boat was known as an LTV, Laser Tunnel Vee. The first two proto-types were raced in Burmuda late in 1983. These boats had what would be known as the ski boat deck on them. Chris Bush & Gray Tuttle drove the boats and Chris simply played with the field. Gary did not have as good luck and blew over on the last lap. That winter the narrow cockpit deck was developed and the driver was moved one foot forward in the boat. For the 84-race season the 18 ft. boat became known as the LTV and was used even after Laser was sold. At the time of the sale of Laser, the company was split into the Bass boat, Ski boat, combination and the Race boat division. This was the beginning of Summerford Racing and STV.
STV (Summerford Tunnel Vee) was actually a model designation for the 18 ft. Vee nosed, Mod VP race boat. Customers used STV to describe all boats built at Summerford Racing and it became the general name used. The other term that was used to satisfy the US Coast Guard was, Pro Comp, short for Professional Competition. Since all boats built at Summerford Racing were all race boats and were exempt from Coast Guard horsepower ratings. Pro Comp was used to describe each model built. Customers again would shorten names for ease of conversation. The original 18 ft. V nose was built only as two models at Summerford Racing, the Pro Comp Race Boat and the Pro Comp Bass Drag Boat. Other than the two-proto types with the wide cockpits, which were both re-decked with new narrow decks, no wide deck 18 ft. boats were ever made. We did offer the 18 ft. boat with two bucket seats up front and a small rear seat, but it was still sold as a race boat. Some of the drag race classes required offset steering.
During the winter of 1984, I began to develop the pickle-fork,19 ft. Mod VP boat. Tom Drozd raced the first proto-type at St. Louis. Although the boat had a better hole slot and was about 10 mph faster than the 18 ft. boat, it was not predictable in a turn in race conditions. There were four of these proto-types built. Only two of these boats kept the original decks the other two were converted over to the Pro Comp style decks. The bottom of this boat was fine-tuned several times over the next 3 years. There were only two decks offered on this hull which were the Pro Comp (narrow dash) and the Pro Comp Ski (wide dash). Because these boats had about 1/3 more sq. ft. of surface area than the old 18 ft. boat, they were never as light as the 18 ft. boat. There were rumors of Pro Comps at less than 400 lbs. and there was one built for Chris Bush that weighed 385 lbs. We raced this boat with 50 lbs. of lead under the gas tank to keep it on the water. At the end of the season this boat was cut up and put in the trash can.
Rusty Campbell took over the job of driving the Mod VP boat, and Chris Bush drove a one-off wooden Champ Boat. Rusty went on to dominate the Mod VP class for the next several years, Chris won the Champ Class in his first year in the very competitive Champ Class. At the end of the 1988 race-season, I redesigned the bottom of the 19 ft. boat to the current configurations of what is know as the Ski Boat Bottom. This bottom was much quicker and better tops speed potential. This bottom had a problem in rough water settling for a turn. Once again for the 90-race season I changed the bottom for handling in rough water turns. This bottom became known as the Race Boat Bottom. These two bottoms were used under the Pro Comp deck, the Pro Comp Ski deck, the Euro deck, and the Capsule race deck of which the Two Seater was also built. When the old Pro Comp race deck was dropped the River Rocket deck was its replacement. The 20 ft. STV V Bottom was only built for a brief time and only had one deck on it. This boat won the New Orleans to St. Lewis race in 1986 driven by Lynn Simburger. Lynn never got the credit for the win because of bad politics.
My team of Craftsmen built STV's. from 1985-1996.
STVowners.com would like to thank Mr. Summerford for contributing this informative article to our site.
Posted: Sept 27, 2001
Updated: Feb 17 2002