Lee Taylor & Hustler
Photo from Parker Jones
Since last month's feature on the Lee Taylor/Harvey Aluminum jet boat, the Hustler, in HOT ROD, several test runs have been made with both good and bad results. The last test was conducted in mid-April at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, on the Colorado River.
The first run was made down the river at about 125 mph to check out the machine. After being towed back, driver Lee Taylor decided to make a slow run downriver, then make a quick run back; 150 to 200 mph was scheduled for the 4- to 4½-mile course. With an Army helicopter hovering overhead to observe, Lee eased open the throttle. The big boat ran straight and true, skimming over the water supported by an air cushion, as was intended. At mid-course, the boat was still accelerating and traveling well over 250 mph. At this point, no one knows what happened. Conservatively, the boat was traveling very close to 300 mph when Lee chopped the throttle. He had apparently misjudged his speed, or the distance the air-riding hull required to slow down and re-enter the water. At about 100 mph, Lee ran out of water.
A rocky point, jutting out of the water about 100 yards from the shore to which the Hustler was headed, tore up the boat's left sponson and threw Lee clear of the boat into rockfilled shallows. The boat continued on the beach and came to rest about 25 or 30 feet up a 20-degree incline. The boat did not suffer extensive damage, except for the ripped sponson, but Lee was badly knocked about in the rocks and sustained many injuries. He is, fortunately, well on the road to recovery.
Harvey Aluminum personnel are convinced that the boat is right, and if all's well and in agreement with Lee, an attempt will be made to bring the world's water speed record back to the United States.
(Reprinted from Eric Rickman's "Rooster Tales" column in Hot Rod Magazine, July 1964)
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