U.S. Readies Jet Boat Assaults This Year On Water Speed Record
There was a period when the press considered Donald Campbell the racing son of a more famous racing father. But this ignoble accusation was short-lived. Sir Malcolm's son has attained the titular honor of officially being the fastest man on water and the fastest man on land in a wheel-driven car.
To a Britisher, these two revered speed records represent nationalistic achievement, comparable to a country's success in the race for space.
Americans consider these world marks a perpetual challenge, with the challengers motivated by the same spirited enthusiasm . . . . "to bring the record to the United States."
One American company has become absorbed in this international speed quest. Harvey Aluminum of Torrance, California, a primary aluminum producer, is supporting the U.S. assaults on Donald Campbell's records, both on water and on land.
The Harvey Aluminum Hustler, the jet speedboat that crashed last year at a speed nearing 300-mph during a test run, has been repaired and is ready to go back into the water. Lee Taylor, 31, who piloted the jet powered hydroplane when it crashed on the Colorado River, is making an extraordinary recovery from the accident and plans to run the Hustler again within the next few months. Speed sites for the boat are being checked out now by the company's racing division. Campbell's world mark on water is 276.34 mph, set the final day of last year in Australia
For the attempt to better Campbell's land record of 403.1 mph, Harvey Aluminum is furnishing all of the aluminum structural materials, wheels, and skin for the Goldenrod, a four-engine car being built by Bob, 28,. and Bill, 29, Summers of Ontario, California. The Chrysler Hemi V-8 engines in the Goldenrod are mounted in-line and coupled in pairs, and Bob Summers expects to drive the car late this summer on the Bonneville Salt Flats at a speed approaching 500 mph. Also participating in the speed project are Firestone, Hurst, and Mobil-companies with historic racing backgrounds.
Aiming at Donald Campbell's records goes beyond patriotic duty for the aluminum producer.
"Racing is a practical research laboratory for engineering and metallurgical advancements in aluminum and in other light metals." says Lawrence A. Harvey, president of Harvey Aluminum. Asked to make some predictions on the water and land record attempts, Paul Anderson, director of research and development for Harvey Aluminum, said that engineering-wise, both the jet boat and the Goldenrod are design and construction masterpieces.
"The jet hydroplane exceeded Campbell's record speed in its last test run, proving out the capabilities of the Hallett hull design. The Goldenrod's minimal frontal area, the 2400-hp output of the four engines, and the superb aerodynamics of the car all point to a record-breaking performance. As for Bob Summers' driving skill at the Salt Flats, he's already driven a single-engine, Chrysler-powered streamliner 323 mph."
A second group actively seeking to bring the world's water speed record to the U.S., is Staudacher Marine, of Detroit, Michigan.
The company last attempted a record run with Miss Stars and Stripes III in 1962, but met with near tragic results when the boat's rudder broke loose and the craft ran aground, crashing into a wooded area.
The speedometer needle was jammed at 289 mph.
Driver Les Staudacher, famed unlimited hydroplane designer and builder, was severely injured in the accident.
Robert Beverley Evans, Chairman of the Board of Staudacher Marine, recently announced that the rebuilt Stars and Stripes will be fielded for test runs this summer on Saginaw Bay, Michigan.
Major design alterations include a switch from curved to straight spars and a new type rudder. The boat will also be rigged with radio-controlled equipment so that initial test runs can be made without a pilot at over 300-mph prior to a manned record attempt.
(Reprinted from Boating News, August 1965, pp.8-9)
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