Gar Wood, Power Boats, Class of 1990
The first man to break the 100 mph barrier on the water, Gar Wood was a legendary hero of early unlimited hydroplane power boat racing. He won five consecutive APBA Gold Cups- a record which stood for 66 years, and he dominated the international competition for the Harsmsworth Trophy.
His innovative craft, highly maneuverable in addition to their record-smashing speed, gave rise to the famous American PT boat. He has been called the "Father of the PTs."
Like so many other visionaries Wood's theories flew in the face of the experts of the day. When he was told that putting an aircraft engine in a boat wouldn't work because the engine was too fragile, Wood did it anyway, installing a Curtiss 12 with a modified oiling system in his Miss Detroit. The engine worked like a charm and took Wood to a Cold Cup victory.
Nicknamed the "Silver Fox" because of his striking white hair, the elegant Wood set numerous power boat speed standards. For many years, he held the Miami-to-New York and other long-standing point-to-point records.
Wood's most memorable victories occurred against the British in the Harmsworth Trophy races. He built a number of race boats he called Miss America. When Miss America VI blew up on a trial run, he built No. Vll in only 14 days.
The Harmsworth was first captured from England by Wood for the United States in 1920. His defenses of the Trophy on the Detroit River against the powerful craft of English aces Marion Barbara Carstairs and Kaye Don are legendary.
Wood's crowning achievement in his Miss America series boats was No. X. With this mahogany beauty, he accepted the challenge of Lord Wakefield, an English millionaire who had the hacking of the British government. Wood, working with his own resources, easily beat the Wakefield craft.
Miss America X used four supercharged Packard engines that were capable of turning 8000 rpm. The combined 8000 horsepower was the most power ever put in a 38-foot hull. It was the first boat ever to do two miles in a minute-124.9 mph. And it carried Gar Wood into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.