An exciting piece of bass fishing history will be displayed in the Carlisle Tire booth #1936 February 21, 22 and 23 at the Bassmaster Classic Expo in Birmingham, AL. Probably the only surviving boat used in the first inaugural Classic held in 1971. The fully restored Rebel Fastback Bassmaster Classic edition will be a must see for all attending.
The historic boat, a 1971 red, white and blue Rebel Fastback powered by a 90-horsepower Mercury MerCruiser inboard-outboard engine came originally equipped with a Lowrance Fish-n-Temp electronics unit and bow mounted MotorGuide electric motor. Ray Scott, founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, ordered 24 identical boats built for anglers selected to fish the first Bassmaster Classic.
Scott wanted to keep everything about the new tournament secret. In October 1971, he picked 24 anglers and flew them and their wives to Atlanta, Ga. There, they boarded a chartered plane with about 30 outdoor writers, destination unknown. The group landed in Las Vegas, Nev., to fish Lake Mead. The Rebel boats, all numbered and lined up, were in the water waiting for the anglers assigned to them.
“Secrecy was essential,” Scott recalled. “I shopped around to find the least conspicuous boat manufacturer that would build a designated number of identical bass boats all equipped with the same components, and do it in such a way that no one had a clue that the boats were even being built. Rebel was a brand new company in northern Arkansas. Not many people knew about them. The company was sworn to secrecy and the movement of the boats was done in such a way as to keep everyone completely off guard. Even the drivers were only provided limited information and set out from the factory on mysterious routings. They had to stop at given locations along the way and get further instructions for their destination.”
In 1971 the then state-of-the-art bass boat cost approximately $4,000 each, hitting a top speed of 37 miles per hour. After the Classic, the boats were sold — including one to golfer Sam Snead. Boat 17 sat in North Carolina for decades under good care, until Doyle Hodgin happened to see what could be the last of its kind.
“In June 2011, I was driving on a road that I hardly ever go on and happened to look to my left,” explained Doyle Hodgin from Durham, N.C. “I saw a boat there with the word ‘Classic’ and a big ‘17’ on it. I didn’t know what that meant, but it was for sale so I pulled in to look. I went home and did some homework. Then, I realized that this boat was used in the first Bassmaster Classic in 1971.”
“It’s truly a priceless one-of-a-kind boat,” Hodgin said. “The boat had been sitting in a building for years, so it was in amazing shape. I’ve taken it out on the lake and fished from it. Everything original on it runs like new.”
“Ray Scott called and said he knows someone who bought one of the original boats used in the first Bassmaster Classic and asked if we would like to display it,” said Mike Quinn, Sales Manager for leading sport trailer tire manufacturer Carlisle Transportation Products of Franklin, Tenn. “It might be the only one still in existence. That was a no brainer! We made arrangements with Doyle Hodgin to bring the boat to the Classic Expo”. Carlisle is the Official Tire of the American Bass Anglers Fishing Series and sponsors three Pro Anglers.
“Mr. Hodgin will be on hand throughout the Expo to tell the story of this historic craft,” Quinn further advised. “Ray Scott will be also visit our display periodically, but he has many other obligations. The current Miss Alabama, Chandler Champion, Leeds, AL., will be at the Carlisle Tire booth on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Carlisle’s programs with American Bass Anglers have been key to sport trailer tire product development, field trials and applications for the sport fishing trailer market. With our involvement in bass fishing, fishermen know that we’re serious about our trailer tire products and supporting the sport.”
The free Bassmaster Expo will be held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Classic at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, located at 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North in Birmingham, AL. Doors open to the public from noon to 8 p.m. Feb. 21, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Feb. 22 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 23. The Expo is great family entertainment and a chance to see all of the fishing industry’s latest and greatest products.
For more information about Carlisle’s Tires and Wheels, visit http://www.carlisletransportationproducts.com/product/tires/trailers-toy-haulers-towable. To view the original 1971 Classic Rebel boat and hear more details, click on www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUqmBJUo3t4.