1959 Harmsworth Trophy
Repair Maverick Supercharger for Second Harmsworth Heat
For the first time since 1931 the challenging country is ahead of the United States in the race for the Harmsworth Trophy.
"And that time," mused Gar Wood, watching Canada’s Miss Supertest conquer America’s Maverick at twilight yesterday, "it was a mistake."
There was a mistake yesterday, but not the same kind. In 1931 Wood let Kaye Don in Miss England II win the lead in the first race and lost. Wood did not let Don have the lead in the second race and, without detail, the Harmsworth Trophy stayed in this country.
Yesterday’s error was a mechanical one.
Bill Stead, in Maverick, did not let Bob Hayward, driving Miss Supertest, get the lead — not by 100 feet he didn’t.
The cultured cattle-rancher, Stead, who has attended three universities and still takes postgraduate courses, not only took the lead but he kept increasing, it. He whirled Maverick around the first three-mile lap to average 105.675 miles an hour, the day’s fastest speed and a new Harmsworth lap record.
For six laps he kept increasing his margin, from 12 seconds to 22, to 27, 28 and up to 30 ticks of the stop watches. In distance, that was a full straightaway.
Then it happened, the mistake in the mechanism of the Maverick.
The first stage in the Maverick’s two-stage supercharger let go. In an instant the U.S. defender dropped from a 100-m.p.h. racer to a 70 m.p.h. cruiser.
It may and should be said that the challenger forced the defender to its fault. Hayward, prosaic raiser of pou1try in Embro, Ont., started indifferently.
"I thought Maverick was going to be pretty close to the gun and Supertest wasn’t really warmed up enough," he explained.
Hayward fell back second after second as he turned laps between 93 and 97 m.p.h. while Stead in Maverick was romping at 105, 102 and 98 m.p.h.
Whether he was biding his time, whether he was only warming up Supertest, whether he was making a well-timed pitch to press and catch Maverick are matters of surmise, but Hayward gunned to 99 m.p.h. on the ninth lap, to 102 on the 10th, to 103 on the 11th and did 99 on; the 12th.
Canada was knocking down the seconds on the United States, from 30 on down to 19, 16 and to 12 as she crossed the line at the end of the 12th lap.
Spectators, though there were not many, were wondering what was happening to Maverick. Stead, still in the lead as the 12th lap ended, raised both hands to indicate that his power was failing him. To stay ahead he had done his 11th lap at 100 m.p.h. and his 12th at 95.
Mark Still Stands
On the 13th lap, down by the Belle Isle bridge, Miss Supertest caught and passed Maverick, which by that time was "breathing out of only one lung" and was ambulating along in the 70 m.p.h. bracket.
Miss Supertest finished the 15th and final tap to average
114.065 m.p.h. to Maverick’s j 91.733. Still standing is the race record of 100.181 m.p.h. set by Stan Sayres’ famous Slo-Mo-Shun IV here in 1950.
Stead, who had to telephone everything to Maverick’s owner, William Waggoner, ill in Phoenix, Ariz., explained in detail what happened.
"We broke the drive unit in the supercharger’s auxiliary stage," Stead said. "It is a little gear that has no great strain on it. It never broke before and is a part that can be replaced in 20 minutes. However, we are going over the whole installation. If we need a whole new power plant we’ll put one in. We have two spares."
Stead left no doubt that the defender will be ready for the second race, scheduled for 5 p.m. today. If Maverick wins today, there will be a third and final race at the same hour tomorrow. A country is required to win two of the possible three 45-mile races, so the match could go 135 miles. It did in 1956.
Ready For Charge
Stead said he had his eye on Hayward from the start and knew when the Canadian started his move on the ninth lap.
"I had a good lead more than enough to stand off any charge until that little part let go,"‘ he said, "but Bob drove a shard, clean race."
Maverick’s crew was not the only one at work after the race. The crew of Supertest, under Jim Thompson and his father, J. Gordon Thompson, of Sarnia and London, Ont., also were hard at it "combing over" the challenger. Admitted was some dissatisfaction with Supertest’s cooling system, but no detail was given out.
The river between Belle Isle and the mainland again was to be closed at 4 p.m. today, after which hour no boats may move there were no violators yesterday and the race was run on near perfect course.
(Reprinted from the Detroit News, August 27, 1959)
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