1966 APBA Gold Cup
Detroit River, Detroit MI, July 3-4, 1966
Hydro Racing Takes Another
Chuck Thompson Killed In Detroit Gold Cup Race
Detorit (AP)—Death rode with the nation's top speedboat drivers again Sunday as veteran Chuck Thompson was killed when his massive hydroplane flew apart on the Detroit River during the Gold Cup race.
Fellow drivers, although saddened by the second tragedy to hit their ranks in two weeks [text missing]
All four dead drivers entered in the British Columbia Cup race on Okanagan Lake at Kelowna July 13-17.
Many of the 300,000 spectators who lined the river banks along the three-mile course screamed as Thompson's boat disintegrated moments after he crossed the starting line at more than 100 miles an hour in what for him was a third heat.
A Coast, Guard helicopter swiftly dipped down and plucked the 54-year-old Detroiter from the water.
Race referee Bill Newton said Thompson's 7,800-pound boat, Smirnoff, "seemed to become airborne momentarily and then smacked down hard on the water."
Stunned Gold Cup officials at first cancelled the meet.
Show Goes On -
Two hours later, however, the race committee and boat owners, and drivers decided to resume the race today at the point where death interrupted it Sunday.
Thompson, one of speedboat racing's most popular figures, was cheated out of an unachieved ambition — to win the Gold Cup. In a racing career which extended back to 1933, he had won every other major hydroplane racing crown. It was his 12th try for the title when his luck failed.
Race organizers at Kelowna said Sunday night the British Columbia Cup unlimited race will proceed as scheduled next week.
"We just can't say how sorry we are about the death of Thompson and the deaths earlier this season," said Roger Cottle, chairman of the Kelowna Boat Racing Association.
(Reprinted from the Vancouver Sun, July 4, 1966)
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