Filling in some blanks for ya......
Checkmate was founded by Bill Downard.......and Bill Combs, who were partners in a Bucyrus, Ohio Mercury outboard dealership. These two created the first Checkmates in 1964, first by "splashing" a 13 foot Norris Craft, with a semi flat bottom and "runners". Later they "splashed" various Glastron hulls and added basically flat decks to create their Vee bottom models (13', 14' and 16'). The signature attribute of all Checkmates back then was the Metalflake gel coat in a myriad of colors.
Bill Downard's son, Mike, became a Mercury/OMC team tunnel boat driver of some repute and won a prestigious Kiekhaefer Scholarship as I recall. Sadly Bill Downard passed away and the world seemingly forgot he ever existed in later years, but, in reality, he was the brains and the stability of the partnership, with Combs being somewhat of a latter day P.T. Barnum in many respects.
Baja was an early local spinoff and started with "splashes" of Checkmates.
Both of these companies made their reputations on the old Outboard Performance Craft (OPC), APBA and NOA racing circuits, which were the venues in which all of the key performance boats ( Allison, Glastron, Eltro, Hydrostream, Switzer, etc) showed their stuff. Most of the hull design features from that era ( Pad bottoms, Aerodynamic decks, steps, wings, cored construction, bonded decks and hulls, etc) are marketed currently as the "revolutionary" features the world swallows as new from the various Offshore Performance builders of today.
Here's a 1966 Pad bottom, vee hull, balsa cored, Allison with an "aero lift" deck and bow configuration (sort of a "beak" plus).