Roy Duby


Duby Looks Back 25 Years [1987]
One speed record that still stands
by Larry Paladino

U-2 Miss U.S. I
U-2 Miss U.S. I
U-2 Miss U.S. I
bullet World Mile Mark Target of Miss U.S.

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Miss U.S. I to be Scrapped
bullet Duby Did It!
bullet Roy Duby Looks Back 25 Years

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Roy Duby Remembered

Sports records fall so quickly these days that often the ink hasn't dried before a new mark is ready to go into the record books. The equipment and technology have improved so vastly that in racing, vehicles are travelling faster even though they have smaller engines.

In motorsports, records fall every day.

In hydroplane racing, the same formula holds true. Boats are built better and much more stable, and tour the course at remarkable speeds.

But for the last 25 years, Roy Duby has been able to claim a significant record-one that rarely is challenged, and earns more respect as each year goes by.

Duby drove George Simons Miss U.S. I Unlimited hydroplane to a world straightaway record for propeller-driven boats of 200.419 miles per hour. That was done April 17, 1962, on Guntersville Lake in Ala. It eclipsed the previous mark of 192.001 set by Bill Muncey in Miss Thriftway, Feb. 16, 1960.

And if a couple things didn't go wrong, who knows? The record might have been closer to 210 mph.

"It started to sleet. I didn't know where I was going;" Duby recalls. "Suddenly I saw white boatwells. I realized the mile marker was coming up and I had to get it going.

"I was blind, blind on the whole run. I didn't see anything for about four miles. I went nearly into the city of Guntersville. People said that I didn't go straight, that I actually had run a diagonal mile."

That wasn't all. Spectators created an unfortunate problem — they accidentally kicked out a clockwire on the second run, when Duby says he was really pushing Miss U.S.

Three runs can be used to calculate a record, with the best two consecutive being averaged out. Duby had made one run (with about a three-mile head start), turned around and went the other way in the clock-fouled run, then tried it again in a third consecutive push. There were two entrance and exit buoys marking the mile at Guntersville Lake.

Officials did not count the middle run as an attempt because of the foul-up says Fred Farley, American Power Boat Association historian from Seattle.

"There was a very slight mist at the time:" explains Al Simon, who served as Duby's crew chief. "Lake Guntersville was like a mirror when we did it. What was interesting, the roostertail came up 20 feet behind the boat. You know, the spray generally comes up right by the transom.

"We knew he had the nerve to do it. We would have had a higher speed, but they (spectators) kicked a wire off the clock on the second run. He was at 207 the first time and he was going faster the second time. He had to go

through with an engine pretty well stretched out by that time. But he was able to do a 192 needed to break the 200 mph mark the third time through:'

Simon says Duby's face shield was all fogged up from the rain.

APBA officials were on hand to verify the attempt. The record was approved by the Unlimited racing commission of the APBA and the Union of International Motorboating (UIM) in Belgium.

Duby, who recently turned 75, has lived in retirement the last 19 years in Key Largo, Fla.

He ordinarily was the crew chief for Miss U.S. and its relief driver, Farley says. The record run also resulted in a kilometer record speed of 198.168.

Simon says the boat was not the first U.S. boat, but the third.

"It was an exact duplicate of Danny Arena's Original I;" Simon says. "He built the first one of kiln dried mahogany ...There was a whole new boat built by (Les) Staudacher. We just called it "U.S. I" again."

Duby says that until his record run he had never driven faster than 160 mph, except in tests shortly before the run.

"It was a whole new ballgame for us. We had done extensive testing. We tried it out on the Detroit River, but there wasn't enough length. We went up to Lake St. Clair, but got into swells because of the big liners."

Duby, who was a Detroiter, says a Madison, Ind., sports writer, Phil Cole, phoned him and suggested Duby bring the boat down there.

"We ran it on the Ohio River. That's when we found out it was capable of over 200 mph. But there were too many curves in the Ohio River. That's when I investigated Guntersville, Ala. I heard so much about the water. They have a big area of water and it's relatively calm.

"We talked to the Junior Chamber of Commerce about putting on this show for us. Most of them had never seen an Unlimited race or hydroplane.

"We set up a course, with distances for the kilo and mile. U.I.M. would recognize either as a record, but we were really shooting for the mile record."

Duby says he made perhaps six 200 mph runs in Miss U.S. I in tests and that the speed "became a natural for that boat. With good weather we knew we had a good chance to break the record:"

Duby says he hauled the boat to Alabama himself, then other crew members flew down the night before the run.

"Ordinarily I was crew chief and Don Wilson was the driver. I did a lot of the testing. He had an auto dealership and a lot of times couldn't get away."

Farley, meanwhile, points out that Duby has the distinction of being the crew chief of the original Such Crust, driven to victory by Danny Foster in the 1950 Silver Cup race in Detroit.

Also, Duby was crew chief of Guy Lombardo's Tempo VII, winner of the Detroit Silver Cup, Washington D.C. President's Cup, the Governor's Cup in Madison, Ind., and the International Cup in Elizabeth City, N.C., in 1955.

Duby retired from competition in 1968, although he says he gets involved now and then, such as in the early 70s when he helped driver Salt Walther starting out. He says he also does occasional special boat jobs that big companies ignore. For instance, Duby says, he spent a year and a half putting a stateroom in a cabin cruiser, adding 12 feet to the boat.

There have been various attempts to break Duby's record. One of the most notable came in 1979, but Miss Budweiser crashed and driver Dean Chenoweth ended up in the hospital.

To break the record, "you'd have to build a special boat;" Duby says, "or maybe they can get turbines running real good and they can cut it."

"The boats that we had in the older days were terrifically fast on the straightaway" he adds, "but not good in the turns. U.S. had a lot of lift. When you got to 160 and up, it got practically airborne and that's why it ran so fast...today's boats are designed to do better on cornering. They're still 10 mph slower on straightaways. But we couldn't go into turns and come out nearly as fast as today's boats. We'd go in at 70 mph and they go in at 100, or at least 90. Budweiser has one third more engine than we had:'

It would cost millions of dollars, Duby believes, to build a prototype of the engine needed for the record Miss U.S. used the old World War II Allison aircraft engine.

Al Simon concurs.

"Boats now are competitive;' he says. "They're designed for oval courses and not straightaways, so they're really not at full speed by the time they're entering the turns. Boats have become very light. They have honeycomb aluminum construction.

"Our (Miss U.S. I) boat weighed roughly 8,000 pounds loaded with fuel. Today they have an average weight of around 5,000 to 5,500 pounds. They're stable for competition. If they get the slightest critical attitude, the wind will take them back over. That's what happened to Muncey when he got killed in Acapulco."

"I set the record in what they call a high-flying, high crown boat. They were very unsafe," Duby pointed out. "They jumped and hopped so much.

"But I never was a real active competitive driver. I guess the only thing I'm remembered for is that I hold the world straightaway record. I question sometimes if that hasn't been forgotten, it's been so long ago."

George Simon, of the U.S. Equipment Company in Detroit, sponsored the Miss U.S. team from 1953 through 1976. Al, his brother, says the boat is stored in a warehouse, and it is hoped Miss U.S. will wind up in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., or Greenfield Village museum in Dearborn.

Duby and Miss U.S. I got plenty of publicity with the record run — but not at home.

"The Detroit papers were on strike;' Duby says with a sigh.

WORLD STRAIGHTAWAY RECORDS FOR PROPELLER-DRIVEN BOATS

DATE

BOAT & DRIVER

SITE

SPEED

4/17/62

Miss U.S. I, Roy Duby

Guntersville, Ala.

200.419

2/16/60

Miss Thriftway, Bill Muncey

Seattle, Wash.

192.001

11/19/57

Hawaii Kai III, Jack Regas

Seattle, Wash.

187.627

11/1/57

Miss Supertest II, Art Asbury

Picton, Ontario

184.494

7/7/52

Slo-Mo-Shun IV, Stan Sayres

Seattle, Wash.

178.497

6/26/50

Slo-Mo-Shun IV, Stan Sayres

Seattle, Wash.

160.323

8/19/39

Bluebird II, Malcolm Campbell

Lake Coniston, Scotland

141.740

9/17/38

Bluebird, Malcolm Campbell

Lake Halliwill, England

130.910

9/2/37

Bluebird, Malcolm Campbell

Lake Maggiore, Switzerland

129.500

9/20/32

Miss America X, Gar Wood

Detroit, Mich.

124.915

7/18/32

Miss England III, Kaye Don

Loch Lomond, Scotland

119.810

2/5/32

Miss America X, Gar Wood

Miami Beach, Fla.

111.712

7/9/31

Miss England II, Kaye Don

Lake Garda, Italy

110.223

4/24/31

Miss England II, Kaye Don

Parana, Argentina

103.490

4/16/31

Miss America IX, Gar Wood

Miami Beach, Fla.

103.069

3/20/31

Miss America IX, Gar Wood

Miami Beach, Fla.

102.256

6/13/30

Miss England II, Henry Segrave

Lake Windermere, England

98.760

3/23/29

Miss America VII, Gar Wood

Miami Beach, Fla.

93.123

9/5/28

Miss America VI, Gar Wood

Detroit, Mich.

92.838

Note: Certification of speed records by the Union of International Motorboating (U.I.M.) began in 1929. The first generally recognized water speed record was established at 19.530 land miles per hour by Napier I driven by Dorothy Levitt at Queenstown, Ireland, in conjunction with the 1903 International ("Harmsworth") Trophy Regatta.

(Reprinted from the 1987 Budweiser Thunderfest program)


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