Betty Cook

Donald Aronow | Vincenzo Balestrieri | Betty Cook

Betty Cook's husband, Paul, bought this cat that was formerly named ZIPPE and tried his hand at offshore racing. Betty attended the races and had an old Bertram race boat converted to a safety boat to help out on the course and patrol it during the races. She named it MONGOOSE.

Don Pruitt of Tornado fame was hired to put a team together and teach Betty how to drive a boat. Since she had MONGOOSE and knew how to drive it, she entered a local club race with the boat and she won. That was it -- she was hooked.

Here is Betty with her first race boat, MONGOOSE.

Betty Cook and her husband, Paul, celebrate her first victory in 1974. She was 52 years old and a grandmother, stood 5' 4" tall and weighed barely 114 pounds. Within three years she would be World Champion in Key West.

Betty on race morning with her famous KAAMA emblem on her jumpsuit.

Betty with the first overall trophy for the Guy Lombardo race in New York in 1978.

The press photographers loved Betty, with her sophisticated way of dressing around such a macho sport.

Betty changed over from her 36 foot Cigarette to a new Larry Smith designed 38 foot Scarab. Now she had the equipment to test her skills against the best in the world.

Now here is a woman that is happy being surrounded by big horsepower engines.

The press made it sound like it was easy, but she was still just a small woman against a big ocean, and she worked for every victory.

From the helicopters, there was no mistaking which boat was KAAMA. The beautiful rendering of the antelope face on the deck made it a standout in a crowd.

The open ocean didn't care if you were a grandmother or a rookie 23 year old -- everyone competed against the same odds.

HORBA Managing Director, Charlie McCarthy, and Betty share some memories after the Bacardi Miami to Bimini race of 1979. They left Miami tied for first place in the drivers' championship points.

Late in her career, Betty accepted sponsorhsip from Bernie Little and the giant Budweiser Brewing Company.

The Cougar cat design of James Beard gave Betty her second World Championship in Venice, Italy in 1979.

Betty set a new world speed record from California to Mexico with a Mercury outboard-powered Larry Smith Scarab. Throttleman, as always, was John Conner.

 

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