1966 President's Cup
Potomac River, Washington D.C., June 19, 1966
3 Hydroplane Drivers Killed in Explosions
Dead Racer Declared Winner of President's Cup Regatta
Washington — Death came to three hydroplane drivers in two stunning explosions Sunday at the President's Cup Regatta — a race "won" by one of the men who died.
Ron Musson, 37, a three-time national driving champion from Seattle, was killed when his radically-designed new Miss Bardahl disintegrated at 160 mph. Later Rex Manchester of Seattle and Don Wilson of Palm Beach, Fla., died when Manchester's boat, Notre Dame, flew out of the water on the final beat, crashed back and exploded next to Wilson, driving Miss Budweiser.
The race was ended after the Manchester-Wilson accident, which came during the first lap of the final heat.
Judges then named Manchester and Notre Dame as race winner, based on points earned during the two-day regatta up to the accident. Wilson, who had subbed for regular driver Bob Brown, and Miss Budweiser, were awarded second place and third went to Tahoe Miss, driven by Miro Slovak.
All three drivers killed were to have raced next month in the B.C. Cup races in Kelowna, B.C.
An older version of Miss Bardahl had won the national championship four times, three with Musson at the wheel. Musson was champion last year and Manchester was ranked second.
'Never Any Apprehension'
In 1963, Musson suffered nine broken ribs in a racing accident.
"There is no reason why it should ever bother me," he said at that time. "I know why the accident happened, so there is no reason why it should happen again. There never has been any apprehension in my mind that it ever will."
The new Miss Bardahl, unlike other hydroplanes, was designed with the cockpit in front of the engines. Musson felt it would give him more speed.
Musson had just completed the first lap of an elimination heat when his boat left the water, flew upwards, and crashed, exploding in front of the judges' stand in a ball of spray and small pieces. He was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Later, officials had no explanations for the accidents.
"It's just what happens in racing," said regatta chairman Don Dunnington. "The water was calm. It was just one of those tragedies.
"It's a rather hazardous profession, and those kind of accidents are just the hazards of the game. These three drivers were the best in the business, but we don't really know what happened."
Musson left a wife and three children.
(Reprinted from the Vancouver Sun, June 20, 1966)
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