Guy Lombardo

Inducted 2002

For most people, Guy Lombardo is remembered as the legendary Canadian musician and bandleader of the red-jacketed Royal Canadians best-known for “The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven”. What isn’t as well known to many is that he was also a highly successful hydroplane racer.

Born in London, Ontario, Guy originally caught the boat racing bug as a young boy by running his fathers flat bottom row boat up and down the Thames River in London. “Papa” had evidently purchased the first outboard motor in London and attached it to the rowboat. Even though the top speed of this motor was only about six miles an hour, the sense of speed and control of this power was enough to set the stage for Guy’s future racing exploits.

But, it was many years before Guy officially entered the world of boat racing. Despite missing the start of his first race because he couldn’t hear the starters pistol, Lombardo quickly demonstrated that he was a fast learner and very talented. In 1942, in the 225 Cubic Inch class, Guy won 20 of the 21 races he entered. He did not race again until after World War II.

When Guy resumed racing, he stepped up to the elite Unlimited Hydroplane racing class following the purchase of MY SIN, the 1939 and 1941 American Power Boat Association Gold Cup Unlimited Class Winner piloted by Zalmon Simmons. In 1948, Guy renamed the craft TEMPO VI.Between 1946 and 1953, Guy is credited with fifteen Unlimited or Gold Cup victories. His two major victories were the 1946 Gold Cup and the 1948 Ford Memorial Contests, both run in Detroit with TEMPO VI.Other wins include the 1946, 1950, and 1951 National Sweepstakes Trophy Races in Red Bank, New Jersey; the 1949 and 1950 Star Spangled Banner Regattas in Baltimore, Maryland; and the 1950 and 1951 Buffalo Launch Club Regattas. At Miami Beach in March 1946, Lombardo broke the record for super-charged Gold Cup class boats with a one-mile straightway average of 113.031 mph, eclipsing the former mark of 100.987 set in 1940. In doing so, he became the second Gold Cupper in history to clear the then elusive 100 mph.

Guy continued racing TEMPO VI until 1953 and appeared occasionally in the cockpits of other well-known boats.Skipping the 1954 campaign, Guy reappeared in 1955 with a new TEMPO VII – which the press labelled “The Sweetest Boat This Side of Heaven”.

Image via The Hydroplane and Race Boats Museum

Art Asbury

Inducted 2001

Art Asbury is probably Canada’s most successful and exciting hydroplane boat racer. During a career that spanned 40 years, Art won 12 international, national and provincial championships and set seven North American and World speed records. Born in Dwight, Ontario, in 1922, Art was the youngest child of James and Annie Asbury, whose maiden name was Newton. Art takes great pride in his ties with the province of Quebec. His maternal grandfather, Pierre Villeneuve, was born in Sherbrooke but came with his family to Renfrew, Ont, when he was 18. He later moved to Dwight and changed his name to the anglicized version, Peter Newton. The Asbury family owned and operated the Dwight General Supply Store on the shores of Dwight Bay. It was one of Art’s chores to deliver groceries to the summer cottages, a task he performed in a skiff, powered by a small outboard motor. When Art was taking his load of groceries out on the lake, he travelled sedately but coming back at the end of his deliveries, he realized that if he put the remaining groceries at the front of the boat, he could really fly. Thus came the beginning of a hydroplane racer. During the second World War, Art served with the Royal Air Force Coastal Command and flew 37 operational missions in a Liberator B-24 bomber. Upon returning home after the war, he worked with his parents operating a tourist lodge and resumed his friendship with Art Hatch of Hamilton, a long time friend and summer guest. As a consequence, the Costa Lotta boat-racing team was formed and the two men were instrumental in the eventual formation of the Canadian Boating Federation. On Nov. 1, 1957, Art set a World speed record of 184.54 mph in the unlimited hydroplane class driving Miss Supertest II for Col. J. Gordon Thompson and his son James at Long Reach near Picton, Ont. For this , he was awarded the World Medal of Honour by the Union of International Motorboating located in Ghent, Belgium. This was what you might call getting his feet wet, because Art went on to set two more World speed records, three Canadian speed records and one American speed record. He was Canadian National Champion in 1948, ’51 and ’57; American National Champion in 1963 and ’64; Canadian High Point Champion in 1953, ’58, ’60, ’61, ’69 and ’78 and Quebec Provincial Champion in 1978. In 1964, Art was inducted in the American Marine Racing Hall of Fame and this was followed by his induction into the Canadian Boating and Huntsville, Ont. Halls of Fame in 1990. In 2001, he was inducted into the Great Lakes Maritime Institute Hall of Fame as a Pioneer of Power Boating. Other honours include being named Marina Captain-Harbour Master at Expo ’67 in Montreal, Honourary Race Chairman for Prince Edward Gold Cup, citations for making outstanding contributions to water safety, and receiving the Boating Recognition Award from the Canadian Power Squadrons. And just so nobody thinks he’s been away from the action, in 1996 he was Grand Marshal of the Spirit of Detroit Thunderfest and Quake on the Lake, Pontiac Michigan, 2001.

Image by Byron Lang via Unlimiteds Detroit

Bob Hayward

Inducted 2000

For four years in the late 1950s-early 1960s, Bob Hayward was Canada’s best-known international athlete. He raced unlimited hydroplanes, the fastest and most powerful racing boats known to man. Hayward and his boat, Miss Supertest, dominated the sport. By domination, it means that if Hayward and Miss Supertest entered a race, they usually won it. A racer who tinkered with the design of his boats, as well as building the motors, Hayward won the famed Harmsworth Trophy all three years he tried for it, defeating such famous hydroplane drivers as Bill Muncey in Century 21 and Miss U.S. 1 driven by Don Williams. Hayward died on Sept. 10, 1961 at the Silver Cup Regatta on the Detroit River when he lost control rounding a curve. In his honour, the Canadian government renamed a bay in Lake Ontario near Picton, the scene of many of his hydroplane triumphs. It is called Hayward Long Reach. Although his career was short, it was totally spectacular.