quikslvr2_thumb.jpg (4360 bytes) Quicksilver G-15 [1951]

"The Saturday afternoon of Seattle's first Gold Cup Race, August 4, 1951, was warm and clear. In the third heat, Orth Mathiot, 56, and his mechanic, Thompson Whitaker, 27, were riding in Quicksilver, a Rolls-powered, 31-foot hydroplane from Portland, Ore. Without warning-and to the horror of some 250,000 spectators at the lake-the Quicksilver, porpoising badly, suddenly went out of control. It nosed down and dived to the bottom of the lake, taking to their deaths the two occupants unfortunately strapped in with seat belts. Viewing this unexpected tragedy from the press barge, KING-TV sports-announcer Bill O'Mara, visibly shaken as he faced the camera, led his unseen audience in the Lord's Prayer. The remainder of the Gold Cup race was cancelled and Slo-mo-shun V, with the most points, was declared winner. Hours later the bodies of Mathiot and Whitaker were recovered.
In the history of unlimited hydroplane racing this was the worst tragedy and the only loss of life. Because of it, there now are stricter rules governing the qualification of boats for competition, and now no one wears seat belts."

(Reprinted from This is Hydroplaning by Paul Lowney [1959])

Thumbnail of Quicksilver (6634 bytes)

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Leslie Field, 1999