Allan Brown Publishes Indispensable ‘Tales from Thunderboat Row’

Allan Brown Publishes Indispensable ‘Tales from Thunderboat Row’

Mike Collins, 'Fearless' Fred Darwick and Allan Brown in the West Palm Beach and Back Gold Coast Marathon circa 1965.

“I had the amazing fortune to arrive in Miami at exactly the birth of offshore powerboat racing, in 1956,” says Allan Brown. The veteran boat racer and incorrigible raconteur. Known as “Brownie” to his peers and admirers, the irreverent and sarcastic wit has published Tales from Thunderboat Row, a book containing his bawdy recollections of the heyday of offshore powerboat racing.

“I wrote the first of the stories about 40 years ago for a long-gone magazine called Pleasure Boating,” Brownie tells Powerboat Nation. “I have been writing for various magazines since then, and now I have about 60 stories—54 of which are fit for human consumption.”

Brownie had another 50 or so pages, but opted to do a little self-censoring for “the gentle folk and their kids,” he says. “I dropped some of the words that started with ‘F,’ references to ‘carnival knowledge,’ and stuff that would get me shot.”

What remains, he says, is the story of Brownie’s life in the boat business, building and racing. “I must say, I had more goddamn fun than you could shake a stick at,” he deadpans. “Please ignore my dangling participle.”

Anyone who has experienced the roar and thrill of a speedboat’s gutsy engines can identify with the sheer adrenaline rush that drove generations of racers into the wild oceans of the world–to bring home a championship title-or even a win. With Tales from Thunderboat Row, Brownie brings the reader into the chase with his vivid descriptions of people, situations and the characters that built the marine industry, the sport of powerboat racing and 50+ years of history that created the technological wonders of boating and yachting today. Aronow, Bertram, Wynne and a hundred others get their comeuppance under the sharp pen.

Racing legend Rich Luhrs adds his colorful and humorous foreword to the book. Given the Legends of Racing Award by the American Powerboat Association’s Legends Division, Luhrs knows all the background, but was cautious enough not to share it. He even “takes the fifth” in his introduction, adding that Brownie agreed to make him only the fictitious The Shadow in the book in exchange for writing the introduction.

Reading the book is a guided tour through the adventuresome world of Brownie and his comrades and a look into an era that held few boundaries in search of horsepower, fame and fortune. At 83 years young, Brownie still has the mischievous twinkle in his eye and throaty chuckle of the young stud who swash-buckled his way through the mid-1900s. He maintains a lofty position in the marine industry-not in title at a Fortune 500 corporation, but in the hearts of all who know him–and in the regard of colleagues who have relied on his engineering expertise, ability to turn a wrench and propensity to turn a tale into a high speed chase. Read on, you’ll enjoy every minute of the 54 stories, whether on a plane, relaxing on a boat or catching a quick restroom break-the snippets and laughs will get you through the day.

Books can be ordered from the website by clicking here. Brownie offers free shipping, domestic or abroad.