King & Bunnys hydro to race at Seafair
August 1, 2008
By Jim Feehan
Before the Mariners and before the Seahawks, Seattle’s sports scene was all about the hydroplanes. The roar of hydroplanes skimming across Lake Washington has always fascinated King Parker.
For the second consecutive year Parker, who owns King & Bunnys Appliances, will be rubbing elbows with drivers and mechanics as the sponsor of an unlimited light hydroplane at this year’s Seafair Aug. 1-3.
“I have the opportunity to be part of the excitement down in the pit area,” he said. “Seeing the race from that vantage point is a real hoot.”
Last year, Parker closed the appliance store the day of the big race. That’s pretty big doings for Parker, because he has never closed on Sunday since he opened in 1982 in the Renton Highlands. When he’s not selling washers and dryers, Parker is holding court in the back of the store, talking local politics. He is a member of the Renton City Council, the Renton Rotary and a board member of the Renton Technical College Foundation. He’s also a member of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce.
Last month, Parker’s carbon-fiber composite boat, the UL-40, was parked outside the store. The big yellow boat with King and Bunnys Appliances scrawled across it in big red-and-black letters was hard to miss for people traveling Sunset Boulevard.
“That boat is awesome,” said Steven Collins, of Seattle, who was shopping for a washer and dryer at King and Bunnys.
Last year, a customer approached Parker with the idea of sponsoring a hydroplane and he jumped at the chance.
Parker’s love affair with hydros goes back to when plywood boats powered by World War II-era aircraft engines competed in the early years of Seafair.
“I remember the Slo-Mo-shun V with the flying start, the rooster tales and lots of noise,” he said.
The Slo-mo-shun V, piloted by Lou Fageol, won the inaugural Seafair in 1951. He won again in 1954.
Parker’s boat had a problem with its oil pump in a preliminary heat, but with a rebuilt engine, it finished third in the light hydro division at last year’s Seafair race.