Go-Fast Blast from the Past: Bubble Bud

Bubble Bud led the way for enclosed cockpits in the Unlimited hydroplane class.

Go-Fast Blast From the Past: Bubble Bud
Go-Fast Blast From the Past: Bubble BudBubble Bud

Since the enclosed cockpit was introduced for the Unlimited hydroplane class of boats, the sport has not lost a driver due to a crash. While most of the boats have been equipped with F-16 canopies, the first enclosed cockpit, which made its debut in 1985, was actually a vacuum-drawn plexiglass model. It became known as the Bubble Bud and was the first Unlimited hydroplane to have its driver, Jim Kropfeld, protected in an enclosure.

Eventually, Ron Jones Sr., the legendary Seattle-based hydroplane designer and boatbuilder, persisted until he could install surplus F-16 canopies on Miss Budweiser and Miss 7-Eleven in 1986, but the Bubble Bud led the way.