Ezio Selva

Ezio Selva, Power-Boat Ace is Killed at Miami Beach

Ezio Selva fatal crash
Ezio Selva fatal crash

Miami Beach, Dec. 29 [1957] (AP) -- Italy's world-famed Ezio Selva, driving what he had called "my last race," was killed today when his power boat flipped at 100 miles an hour in the second heat of the Orange Bowl Regatta's Grand Prix event.

The 56-year-old wire manufacturer from Milan, Italy, was crushed only 500 feet from the judges' stand in full view of his son Luciano, 20, and 10,000 spectators. Selva had just drawn an ovation for gunning his 800-kilogram Moschettiere in front of a hydroplane driven by J.B. Broaddus, Lake Wales, Fla. Suddenly his red Alfa-Romeo-powered hydro nosed skyward and danced briefly on its stern, then dove forward, rolled on its side and knifed bow-first into choppy Biscayne Bay.

Ironically, Selva's burst of speed was unnecessary because judges had disqualified Broaddus for jumping the starter's gun.

Son Swims to Aid

Luciano Selva plunged off a seawall to swim to his father's aid. Don Woolrich, a Miami Beach fireman, jumped off a boat and recovered Selva's floating body.

Judges awarded the $7,500 Grand Prix to George Byers, Jr. of Columbus, Ohio, who had won the first of three scheduled heats. The third and the rest of the scheduled events were cancelled.

"I'm getting too old; this will be my last race," Selva had said last week, He said he would leave speed to his son, Luciano.

Selva had expressed assurance before and during the Grand Prix that he would win in his fourth try for the Orange Bowl Regatta's feature prize.

"This time it's going to be different," he told racing associates who recalled he had lost victory chances last year by missing a buoy. And after shooting out of a three-hydroplane box to take second to Byers in today's first heat, Selva promised, "Next time, they no box me -- I win."

No Stranger to Misfortune

Selva had been racing for eight years. His appearances at the Grand Prix competition had been plagued by misfortune.

In the 1956 event, he was first over the finish line in two of the three heats. But officials threw out the first-heat victory, ruling that Selva had cut inside a course marker.

Selva was forced out of the 1955 Grand Prix when a floating object punched a hole in the bottom of his $20,000 racing boat, He was uninjured and the boat remained afloat. In the 1953 test he was disqualified for jumping the starting gun.

The Summaries

Grand Prix

First Heat

1. George Byers, Jr., Columbus Ohio
2. Ezio Selva, Milan, Italy
3. George Fyle, Baltimore
4. Dave Craig, Miami
5. Paul Furlong, Miami
6. J.B. Broaddus, Lake Wales, Fla.
7. J.C. Townsend, Port Arthur, Texas

Frank Byers, Columbus Ohio and Ronnie Smith, Mt. Holly NJ DNF


(Associated Press, December 29, 1957)

[Note: Ron Musson, future unlimited star, finished second in the 266 cubic inch event at this same regatta --LF]