1961 Silver Cup
Detroit River, Detroit, MI, September 10, 1961

32 Seconds to Death

bullet All Have Shot at Silver Cup
bullet Miss Lumberville Pleases Owner
bullet Silver Cup Racer Dies in Boat Flip
bullet Hayward Dies Trying Fastest Turn in History
bullet Silver Cup Future is in Doubt
bullet 32 Seconds to Death
bullet Statistics

It was not Bob Hayward's day. The blond, stocky, 33-year-old Canadian, daring driver of Miss Supertest II, three times a Harmsworth Cup winner, this day ran into trouble quickly in the 1961 running of the Silver Cup race on the Detroit River.

In tire first heat, 1-A, his boat struck Buoy No. 17 at the upper (eastern) end of the oval course. Hayward reported the incident to the race committee, automatically disqualifying himself and losing any points he might have scored.

Impatiently, the onetime farm boy who loved boats and speed sat out the second heat, 1-B. A self-taught mechanic, he watched the pit crews work over the big Rolls Royce Griffin engine. Only two days before, Hayward had called this Supertest, one of three owned by J. Gordon Thompson, "a smooth riding boat, with all the bugs ironed out."

When the seconds ticked off to the starting moment of the third heat, 2-A, Hayward had Miss Supertest at full throttle, running almost abreast of Bill Muncey in Miss Century 21 (light-colored boat in picture below).

As they roared through the first turn, at the Belle Isle bridge end of the course, Hayward hardly slackened speed. Fighting for the lead with Miss Century 21 and Miss U. S. I (circled in picture below), Hayward saw a narrow gap between the two boats and drove through to his rendezvous with death.

Bob Hayward, as pictured before the 1959 Detroit Memorial Race
Bob Hayward, as pictured before the 1959 Detroit Memorial Race
Miss Supertest II, 1961 Silver Cup
Stop watch superimposed on television screen shows two seconds remaining before start of race as Miss Supertest II (arrow) passes in front of judges' stand. Thirty seconds after start of this heat, Miss Supertest's driver, Bob Hayward was injured fatally.
Miss Supertest II, 1961 Silver Cup
Two seconds from death, driver Bob Hayward zooms between boats slowing for turn, takes the lead briefly before capsizing.
Miss Supertest II, 1961 Silver Cup
Dark underside of the ill-fated boat looms up as Miss Supertest II goes into the flip that proved fatal to her driver
Miss Supertest II, 1961 Silver Cup
Righting herself in the water after flipping completely over, the Supertest continues briefly on course because of her momentum, churning up spray as before. Her driver already had been injured fatally at this point.
Miss Supertest II, 1961 Silver Cup
Calm descends on the river as Miss Supertest drifts to a stop. Other boats shot past her but stopped quickly and the race was cancelled. Driver Bud Saile left his Thunderbolt and swam to Hayward, who was beyond help

The fatal flip of Miss Supertest is shown in this dramatic sequence of pictures, taken from the video tape of WWJ-TV The Detroit News, whose camera crews caught the entire action in their live telecast and later rebroadcast it from tape.

(Reprinted from the Detroit News Pictorial Magazine, September 24, 1961)

[Thanks to Tom Jewett for providing the newspaper clippings for this page --LF]

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