International Racing Is Not New To The Unlimiteds

International Racing

The upcoming trip for the race in Doha, Qatar brings to mind some of the other ventures the Unlimited hydros have made outside of the United States.

Most recently, the big boats made the jaunt up to Canada to Valleyfield, Quebec in 2006. Prior to that, Canada had played host to Harmsworth Trophy competition in the early 1960’s on the Bay of Quinte at Picton, Ontario.

The Harmsworth was a race between nations, and the Canadian Miss Supertest III, driven by Bob Hayward, had won it in Detroit in 1959. The Americans sent Gale V, Nitrogen, and Nitrogen Too up to Picton in 1960 to try and get it back but the Americans’ Allison engines were no match for the Supertest’s big Rolls-Royce Griffon.

The following year, Chuck Thompson challenged with his Miss Detroit. The U.S. boats had to use a native powerplant, and the Allison, while fast, didn’t have all the extra power generated by the British Griffon 12-cylinder. Hayward and Miss Supertest won again.

One earlier race, the 1956 Prince Edward Trophy race, was staged at Picton. This time Bill Braden, driving Miss Supertest II, beat back seven Detroit boats, including Roy Duby in Gale IV, Jack Bartlow in Miss U.S. II, and Fred Alter in Such Crust III.

Other trips north of the border included The Maple Leaf Trophy races at Windsor, and the series of races at Kelowna, British Columbia in 1966 and ‘67, and again from 1996 to 1999. A lone event in Barrie, Ontario, north of Toronto, was held in 1999.

The Union of International Motorboating sanctioned a world championship event in Acapulco, Mexico in 1981. Ten boats made the trek to the Laguna de Coyuca, a lake just outside the famed tourist city.

Tragedy marked this race when the great Bill Muncey lost his life in a terrible blow-over accident while leading the final heat. This unfortunate incident, and the one the following year which took Dean Chenoweth, led to the development and use of the enclosed canopy, which has saved many lives since. Muncey and Chenoweth were in open cockpit boats.

Entries from other countries have competed on American waters many times. In the 1930’s, Count Theo Rossi came over from Italy and won the Gold Cup in 1938. The Australians have sent boats on numerous occasions.

In 1983, the U.I.M. World Championship was held in Houston, Texas. Boats competed from Italy and Australia, as well as the United States, to make it a truly international affair.

Let’s hope that the upcoming World Championship series leads to more international racing, and more entries from other nations, and the U.S as well.

[Reprinted from Thunderboat, November 2009]