The Vintage Jet Ski Museum at the 2021 IJSBA World Finals
By Krisdy Riddle
A British novelist named E. M. Foster once wrote, “History develops, art stands still.” Nearly a 100-year-old statement, it can still be reflected on and understood today. While the innovation of modern day vintage skis has been an exciting phenomenon, it is always worthwhile to appreciate and learn from the glory days racing culture of the early jet ski years. And at Jettrim's Vintage JetSki Museum, visitors could do just that.
Jettrim's Vintage JetSki Museum
At this year's World Finals in Lake Havasu City, Jettrim once again dedicated another Vintage Jet Ski Museum honoring some of those who have made a tremendous impact on our sport. From Thursday to Sunday, the public was welcome to explore the museum. Visitors relived the glory days that paved the way for jet ski racing while delving into remarkable stand-up builds amongst vintage posters, and banners. From an original 1979 JS 440 with a side exhaust to Christy Carlson’s #27 race boat with an aftermarket PJS hood, the Vintage Museum is a must-see attraction at World Finals.
The idea of the Vintage Ski Museum first stemmed from Jettrim’s original founder, Gary “Super G” Hart. His unconditional love and contribution to the sport classified him as a jet ski icon. The museum was developed in hopes of sparking more interest in jet ski racing and the industry itself. Hart unfortunately passed away in 2014 due to complications with cancer; yet the essence of the museum lived on with significant help from Jettrim’s new owner, Frank Walsh.
Legendary Jet Skis on Display
Over a dozen eye-catching hulls were displayed at this year’s vintage ski museum booth, including Cori Stricklin’s beaming yellow L&S Cobra build and Victor Sheldon’s original Team Butch ski. Cori, daughter of Steve Stricklin of L&S Engineering, continues to carry the family legacy. Cori generously provided the museum her one-of-a-kind Cobra which was gifted and restored by Bob Phares.
Christy “The Blonde Bombshell” Carlson’s Butch #1
Next to Cori’s Cobra, spectators could find Christy “The Blonde Bombshell” Carlson’s Butch #1 race ski still in mint condition. Nearly untouched since her final championship victory, the 440 with an original aftermarket Butch’s hood is a classic boat that led Christy’s journey to numerous world titles. Preserving the authentic appearance and upkeep, the Team Butch ski hasn’t been ridden since 1989. Her #27 Pro Super Stock PJS hull was also included in the collection.
"The Slasher" Team Butch 550
Side by side with the Bombshell’s #1 boat laid Victor “The Slasher” Sheldon’s classic lime green and orange Team Butch 550. Without any restoration assistance to the hull itself, the dents and scratches remind us of the Slasher’s aggressive riding technique and truly amplifies how much he pushed the limits of racing. If this ski could talk, we are certain it would share some unbelievable and epic memories.
"The Jammer" PJS 550 Hull
Of course, Jettrim could not host a Vintage Jet Ski Museum without one of the most iconic boats in the game. The radiant sky blue and orange #1 Jeff “The Jammer” PJS boat is one of the most recognizable vintage skis in the museum. Though the boat serves as a replica, it is an authentic PJS 550 hull and was featured in “Splash Magazine” in the 1990’s. ( Read more about legendary riders here.)
A rare and noteworthy boat featured was an authentic L&S Shuttle. The #1 Shuttle soared to two national titles in the late 1970’s, including the first national championship by Steve Stricklin and Doug Silverstein. A noticeably distinctive hood and gradient design, only a very small number of hulls were produced.
Close by stood another exceptional hull, the VHP 7000. Designed and manufactured by PJS, the prototype jet ski did not last long after getting sued by Kawasaki in the 1990’s. Usually loaded with a PJS Viper 550, the hull itself was heavier than Kawasaki’s yet sustained sufficient top-end performance.
A recreation of Larry Rippenkroeger’s Pro Modified PJS boat also made its debut later in the week. Tim Campbell envisioned a revival of the World Champion’s 1986/1987 tour ski and transformed an ordinary 550 to match the legendary ride. With magnificent paint work from Tim Bartee and help from Campbell’s friends, the craft was definitely a head-turner at World Finals. (Check out these Jet Ski Painting tips here from the one and only Neil 'Neilski' Bollmann.)
The Vintage Jet Ski Museum runs the week of World Finals and is always a crowd-favorite. Every year allowing visitors to witness remarkable vintage treasures that will be remembered for years to come. Jettrim’s commitment to preserve the history of stand-ups keeps our vintage passion alive and inspires those to learn about the roots that built our sport. This isn’t your ordinary museum; here you are welcomed to explore the true vintage era and are bound to strike up a conversation with someone who lived it.
Photos credits: Kenny Wong and Ty MacFarland