1961 Silver Cup
Detroit River, Detroit, MI, September 10, 1961
Hayward Dies Trying Fastest Turn in History
Diagram of race course and spot where Miss Supertest II (X) flipped and killed driver Bob Hayward in yesterday's Silver Cup race. Miss Supertest went between boats, on the turn just above the Belle Isle bridge, (1) Miss Century 21 and (2) Miss U.S. I. Thunderbolt (4) was back of the three boats and driver Bud Saile was the first to reach Hayward. --New Photo.
Bob Hayward, who lost his life on the Detroit River yesterday, will be remembered as a smiling, friendly man who remained modest in victory and accepted defeat graciously. With no background in boat racing, the cherubic-locking Hayward quickly developed into a top driver at the wheel of, the Miss Supertests. He is seen in the middle photo above accepting the trophy for winning the 1959 Memorial Regatta here. It was his first major triumph. A gentleman as well as a fierce competitor, Hayward gave a fine demonstration of his sportsmanship in the first heat of the Silver Cup yesterday. He voluntarily told officials that he had struck a buoy, thus disqualifying himself. The lower picture shows Hayward striking the buoy, No. 17 on the upper turn.--News Photos.
Bob Hayward's life was snuffed out when he tried to gun Miss Supertest II between two other boats, attempting in the process to take a turn faster than any driver in the history of speedboating.
Bill Muncey, a former Detroiter, the Gold Cup winner with Seattle's Century 21, and Don Wilson, driver of George Simon's Miss U.S. I, of Detroit, told of the tragedy in yesterday's third heat of the Silver Cup on the river.
Both are veterans, both have looked death in the eye in boat racing and survived. Both understand the calculated risk involved each time they start their motors roaring.
But neither could comprehend or explain why Hayward hit the turn wide open.
"He must have been into the turn before he realized he was there," was Muncey's guess about the disastrous third heat.
THOUSANDS SEE IT
Five boats rocketed into the lower turn after the start. This part of the course is just above the Belle Isle Bridge and., opposite the Detroit Boat Club,
Thousands on the bridge and shore saw Miss Supertest II dip a sponson and corkscrew into a flip as she slammed upside-down with Hayward underneath.
But her terrific speed at this point, estimated at more than 140 miles an hour as she came into the turn, gave her enough momentum to carry her all the way around.
Miss Supertest II landed right side up with the crushed body of Hayward plastered to her stern deck.
"Supertest was airborne when she came between Muncey and me," Wilson said. "I was on the outside (with Miss U.S. I). I saw a sponson, just a glimpse, and dived down into my cockpit and steered out. Supertest was prop riding and rode right over me on that side. There wasn't more than 12 or 15 feet between Muncey arid myself but Supertest came right through.
"I thought I was going to be killed. Supertest's sponson went right over my head."
Both Muncey and Wilson were shaken by the experience of seeing a fellow driver die.
"We were all going fast, maybe faster than we should as we came into the turn," Muncey said. "I'd say we were doing about 150 to 160. I was back on the inside and backed off . . . the water wasn't too good here ... kind of choppy and anything can happen to a boat's action when it's like that.
"Hayward charged between Donnie and me. We both got washed down by Supertest. Then I saw Supertest's sponson hit, she rocked and then all I could see was a shower of water and I was going through pieces of floating wood.
"'God,' I thought, 'I ran over Bob.'"
All other boats in the heat stopped immediately as Miss Supertest made her twirl of death. Red smoke flares, which call for a race to be stopped, followed several minutes later.
Bud Saile, driver of Thunderbolt, was the first to reach Supertest. Most of Hayward's racing gear helmet, life preserver, shirt had been torn from the upper part of his body. Hayward's neck was broken and his chest crushed when the boat flipped onto its deck. Doctors said death was immediate. He lay athwartship in the tangled deck wreckage where the stern fin had been ripped away. Supertest's giant Rolls-Royce Griffgn motor was a shambles of broken gear. The cockpit was crushed and her instrument panel a twisted mass.
There were round holes, from eight to 10 inches in diameter, where water had exploded through her decking in the area of her cockpit when she hit upside down. Her left sponson was an open shell. The underbody of Miss Supertest, however, was virtually intact.
Hayward had much less racing than such drivers as Wild Bill Cantrell, Wilson and Muncey. The first time he ever guided an unlimited class boat came at the end of the 1958 season when he handled one of Sam Dupont's Nitrogens.
He joined J. Gordon Thompson in 1958, won the Harmsworth Trophy with Miss Supertest III in 1959 and defended the trophy twice successfully.
Hayward had been in only eight or nine unlimited events not more than 27 heats of racing all told. Other than the Harmsworth, Hayward raced only in the Detroit River events such as the Memorial and Silver Cup. Last year he took Supertest II to the Gold Cup, but rough water canceled the races. Friday Hayward was saying Supertest was a smooth-riding boat, all the bugs having been eliminated.
In 1956 this same Supertest II was an unsuccessful bidder for the Harmsworth, although she was given a great ride by the late Bill Braden. Col. Russ Schleeh, driving Shanty, kept the Harmsworth on this side of the border that year.
Later that fall, Dan Foster got Supertest II up around [xxx] m.p.h. in a try at the world mile mark at Picton, Ont. Supertest broke down making her second run.
In the Detroit Memorial in June, Hayward came clear when Supertest caught a sponson while whirling down the closing yards of the backstretch in front of the Detroit Yacht Club.
She tottered in the air. Hayward, that time, got down right side up. He slowed down for the rest of the heat.
Yesterday he didn't get Supertest down.
(Reprinted from the Detroit News, September 11, 1961, pp.1B-2B)
[Thanks to Tom Jewett for providing the newspaper clippings for this page --LF]
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