Leo Vanden Berg

Crew Chief, Miss Bardahl 1962-66

Winner: 3 Gold Cups, 3 National Championships, 12 Races

 

Excerpt from the 1965 Miss Bardahl Press Book:

Leo C. Vanden Berg (47), Seattle - Crew Chief

Bardahl Manufacturing Corporation, Seattle, Washington

9th year with U-hydros.  Was on Maverick crew 1957-59.  Miss Bardahl 1960 to present.

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It is with a great sadness that we learned of the passing of Leo Vanden Berg on October 24, 2004.  Leo was a great and amazing person, whose legend, impact, and character will live long into the future. 

 

With Leo as crew chief of a "teeny-bopper" crew, the Miss Bardahl set competition records (some of which stood over a decade), developed significant innovations leading to unmatched performance, and set the standard for years to come in powerboat racing.

Besides being crew chief on the Bardahl, Leo also crewed on the Maverick, Squire Shop and Miss Budweiser teams.

Other Remembrances:

 

 - The Seattle Times published a great article on Leo in it's October 30, 2004 edition  

 - Following is an obituary written by Jon Osterberg for the Unlimited News Journal:

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Leo Vanden Berg, 1917 - 2004

Leo Vanden Berg, the hall of fame "keeper of the Green Dragon" crew
chief, passed away Oct. 24 in Seattle. He was 87.

Under Leo's watch, Ron Musson and Miss Bardahl won three consecutive
Gold Cups and National Championships in 1963-65. The U-40 won 12 races
altogether and, in its final appearance at San Diego in 1965, set
records for fastest lap (117 mph), heat (116), and 45-mile race (115)
that stood for years.

A disheartened Leo walked away from hydro racing the following year
after Musson died racing a new Bardahl on the Potomac River. The cabover
boat nosed in and disintegrated. Leo didn't return until 1984, when he
worked on the Squire Shop crew. Bernie Little, well aware of Leo's
sparkling past and talent, later lured him to the Budweiser team for
several years.

Sometimes a friend's death hurts all the more because of things left
unsaid. Such was the case with Leo, who became my friend in 1982. He
never heard the reasons why I admired him so much. Assuming that Leo, a
man of faith, is somehow still aware of worldly things, I offer those
reasons now.

Leo, although you were one heck of a crew chief, I respected you far
more for your character. You were decent, humble, kind to others, and
honest as the day is long. I spent three years searching for your old
hydro, and although I was elated at finding it in a New Hampshire field
in 1982, that search led to an even more-valuable find: meeting you.

I'll remember your laugh, your perpetual crew cut, that odd squint, your
patience, and your great stories - like how you and Chuck Thompson would
go get milkshakes when other racers headed off to the bar. And forever,
I'll remember how you made that beloved Dragon of my childhood roar.

Thanks for the memories, Leo. God bless you.

- Jon Osterberg

 

The Seattle Times article on Leo

Ryan Smith, 2003-2012. All rights reserved.