35 Years Ago . . .
The headline read "Bardahl Wins Death-Shortened Race". The beginning to the end of a foreign powerhouse in unlimited racing commenced. The Miss Supertest II, crashed at the Silver Cup and took her talented driver to his death. Six months later the teams owner, J. Gordon Thompson, of London, Ontario, Canada, decided to pull the plug, forever.
The following is the Associated Press account of Hayward's fatal run.
"DETROIT, Sept. 11.--(AP) Bob Hayward, a soft-spoken Canadian who almost always was victorious, was known as one of powerboating's most cautious drivers.
The 33-year old ex-chicken farmer from Embro, Ontario, preached caution in his discussions of triumphs that brought Canada the famed Harmsworth Trophy for the last three years.
Yesterday, Hayward tried a gamble in the Silver Cup regatta in Miss Supertest II. He became the first driver to be killed in 11 years in an unlimited hydroplane accident.
Hayward tried to squeeze Supertest between two boats and into the lead on the first turn of the second heat. "Supertest made a complete roll over," said her owner Jim Thompson of London, Ontario.
"Hayward died instantly," said Dr. F. Sinclair Finch, physician at the scene. "Death was caused by a broken neck and other severe injuries."
Hayward was a national hero in Canada because of his three Harmsworth victories in Miss Supertest III, the most recent only last month in Picton, Ontario. In 1959 he brought Canada her first Harmsworth, breaking 39 years of United States' domination of the trophy, on the same Detroit River course where he was killed.
Witnesses at the first turn and pit area said Hayward's boat flipped when he tried to work her between Seattle's Century 21 and Detroit's Miss U.S.1, the leaders of the heat.
"I saw the whole thing." Thompson said, "Bob had just pushed her into the lead when he flipped completely over."
Bud Saile, driver of Thunderbolt, rescued Hayward from the overturned Supertest. Saile stopped his boat and jumped into the water to aid the injured Canadian. A patrol boat picked up Hayward and rushed him to a waiting ambulance.
The remaining heats of the 45-mile race were cancelled.
Miss Bardahl of Seattle, driven by Ron Musson, was declared the Silver Cup champion on the basis of winning the first section of the first heat with an average of 108.089 miles per hour. Such Crust, driven by Fred Alter of Detroit, was placed second, winning the second section with 98.084.
Miss Century 21, the Gold Cup winner from Seattle driven by Bill Muncey, was placed in third position. Five Detroit boats followed in order--Gale V, Miss U.S.1, Thunderbolt, Miss Detroit and Miss Lumberville. Then came Miss Madison and Miss Supertest II.
Ironically, Miss Supertest II was disqualified in the first heat for striking a buoy. Hayward called attention of the officials to this, thus disqualifying himself.
With great need of points to remain in contention in the three heat race, Hayward tried to get a quick start in the second heat."
This photo showed what is probably the last picture of the Supertest II before the fatal flip. She was running with Bill Muncey in the Miss Century 21 (Thriftway) and Chuck Thompson's Miss Detroit, both off her left hip, prior to the start of the heat. It's irony that this picture should include three people that would die doing what they loved best.
The British International Trophy Race, or Harmsworth Trophy as it was usually called, was never again raced with unlimited class boats. Today it rests as an artifact of times past with the Royal Yacht Club in England. The legacy of Alfred Harmsworth now becoming a dusty memory.
The last site where this race was contested with unlimited boats was on the Long Reach, of the Bay of Quinte, near Deseronto, Ontario. Today that stretch of water is known as "Hayward's Long Reach."
The Miss Supertest II was recovered from the Detroit river, but was lost to fire several years back. The Miss Supertest III is on display at the Hall of Transportation, Ontario Science Center, 770 Don Mills Road, Toronto, Canada, MC3 1T3. Included with her exhibit is a 4½ minute video of the '61 Harmsworth Trophy. You can visit the Ontario Science Center on the "Web" but, you won't find the Supertest III there. You'll have to go in person.
(submitted to the Powerboat List by Parker Jones, Sitka, Alaska September 10, 1996)
(Reprinted from the UHRA Thunder Letter Vol. II, No.144 October 3, 1996)