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Book details
  • SubGenre:Water Sports / Boating
  • Language:English
  • Pages:107
  • eBook ISBN:9781483523699

Harmsworth Hero

The Bob Hayward Story

by John Joseph Kelly

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Bob Hayward was a chicken farmer from the small Ontario community of Embro. He was always fascinated by speed, and racing. Over the years, in his spare time, he raced boats with outboard engines and would go on to build and race the first dragster ever built in Canada. In 1957 he was hired on as a mechanic by the owners of Canada's sole unlimited class hydroplane: Miss Supertest. Within a year, he had graduated to being her driver; and over the next four summers, he would become the greatest driver in Canadian race boat history, capturing the prestigious Harmsworth Trophy (symbolic of world domination in unlimited hydroplane racing) three straight years. He died young, at age 33, behind the wheel of a hydroplane.


Bob Hayward was always interested in racing and speed. He would always tinker with engines; and try to make them run faster and smoother. He and his brother, Keith, started off putting outboard engines into boats, and running them down the Thames River, competing against other boats, and winning trophies. When boat racing became too mundane, Bob graduated to dragsters. He built what has been recognized as the first dragster in Canadian street racing; and then would drive it around his town, taking on all comers from out of town. His day job was being a chicken farmer on his father's farm. He was also a full time mechanic, tearing apart engines and then putting them back together. He became known to Colonel Gordon Thompson and his son, Jim, who were the owners of Canada's sole unlimited class racing boat, Miss Supertest II. When they saw him work with engines they hired him on as a mechanic for their racing team. He did not know that they were also looking for a second driver of the boat; and when they asked him if he would like to take her for a spin, he got behind the wheel, and took to driving 'like a duck to water'. In 1959, the Thompsons built a new boat, Miss Supertest III; and Bob Hayward was her only driver. In 1959, he won the Harmsworth Trophy, which was raced for by one country against another. The trophy had been held by the United States since 1920. In 1960, with the same boat, he defended the trophy against three American challengers. In 1961, in Miss Supertest III once again, he defeated a single American boat to hold on to the trophy for Canada. It was the only time in Harmsworth history that a single boat (hull) won the Harmsworth three years in a row. One month after this race, while driving the older Miss Supertest II in the Silver Cup race on the Detroit River, he had the boat flip and he was killed at the tragically young age of 33. The Thompsons were so grief stricken by the loss of their young driver that they put Miss Supertest III in a museum and never raced her again. This is the story of that remarkable young man, who over five decades later, is still recognzied as Canada's greatest race boat driver.

About the author

John Joseph Kelly is a retired high school teacher, who taught Canadian history and Canadian law for 29 years. He received his formal education at the University of Windsor (Ontario, Canada) from where he obtained an Honours B.A. in History, an M.A. in History, and a Bachelor of Education. He taught at St. Charles College in Sudbury, Ontario; and at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mississauga, Ontario. He has published three earlier titles: Roostertail: The Miss Supertest Story; A Taste for Speed: The Biography of Will Braden; and The Miss Supertest Story in Photos. He lives in retirement in Halton Hills, Ontario with his wife of 38 years, Maureen Hastings; and their two cats: Carrie and Thickie.