1967 Suncoast Cup
More Power to You
Red Marston presents a vivid account of the spectacular spill that killed Bill Brow during the June 11 unlimited hydro race at Tampa, Fla. This adds a ghastly chapter to unlimited racing history of the past year, tarnished as it was by the June 19, 1966 loss of Ron Musson, Rex Manchester and Don Wilson and the death of Chuck Thompson two weeks later.
Marston, in an exhaustive report to Yachting, included these quotations concerning water conditions at Tampa. Referee Bill Newton: "The course conditions were not bad. They would have been considered fine, say, on the Detroit River."
Ole Bardahl (owner of Miss Bardahl) : "It was rough down where the accident happened. I think there was a wave from a passing boat."
Bernie Little (owner of Miss Budweiser): "There was a hole down there. It could have been created by hydros going by the anchored spectator boats which were tight together. Maybe the wakes went against these boats and came back oil the course as they might from a seawall."
Red supplied these additional quotes relative to the accident. Bernie Little's last words to Bill Brow before the race: "Take it easy; take no chances. It's going to be a long season. I know you can drive-you don't leave to prove it to me."
Bernie Little after the accident: "Bill Brow had to be out front; he was that type of guy. And if you are not out front at the start, which he wasn't, then the place to get out there is when you are coining out of the back chute, when the water is the smoothest. I'm sure that's the way Bill was thinking."
Announcer Phil Cole: "You can change the shape and distance of a course; you can do the utmost in safety; you call provide the tremendous rescue facilities which were evident at Tampa, but you can't control the human reactions of individual drivers. Some just drive differently than others."
Driver Bob Schroeder: "You have to drive to the condition of the water. You've got to drive realistically-fit the speed to the conditions. It wasn't too bad out there for the speeds we ran at."
Marston's report continued, "Most drivers wouldn't talk for publication. But the consensus was that Brow had the fastest boat out there (qualified on top at 110 m.p.h.) and could have won as lie pleased, barring a breakdown. Thus he took an unnecessary chance in running so fast. He seemed anxious to make up for a bad start."
Yachtings Detroit correspondent George Van was even more explicit in his story of the Tampa Race in the "Detroit News" for June 12, "Tampa-Unlimited speedboat drivers, officials and owners were in accord today in explaining why Bill Brow lost his life while driving Miss Budweiser in yesterday's Suncoast Cup races conducted on Tampa Bay.
"They simply said Bill Brow, a 41-year-old Seattle milk distributor, was driving over his head."
I witnessed all of the fatal accidents during the 1966 season. Tragically, the latest unlimited fatality seems to qualify for tile conclusion I reported in this column in our Sept. 1966 issue, "In all three accidents, a boat was being driven faster than she could safely travel under existing water conditions."
Credibility is contributed to this opinion by a statement of the late Don Wilson. One week before Donnie was killed, Red Marston asked Wilson what his years of experience lead taught him to be the difference between limited and unlimited hydros. Replied Don, "The big difference in the unlimiteds is that you have tremendous power at your disposal and the challenge is how much of it to use and when to use it."
(Reprinted from Yachting, August 1967, p.34)
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