Drag Boat and Water Speed Record Racer Memorial

                   1970-1979

Charles Abajian

Born:  September 16, 1947

Died:  May 20, 1978

Buried: Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California

Age:  30

Full Name:  Charles Arthur Abajian

Nickname: 

Location:  Lake Ming, near Bakersfield, California

Event:  Coors Boat Drag Nationals

Accident Date:  May 20, 1978

Boat:  

Biographical:  He was speeding about 100 MPH when his boat flipped over and landed on top of him, trapping him underneath.  He was transported to Mercy Hospital where he died.  He was from Los Angeles.

Sources

"Southland," Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1978

California Death Index  (Charles Arthur Abajian, born Sep. 16, 1947 in Cal., died May 20, 1978 in Kern Co.)

Social Security Death Index  (Charles Abajian, born Sep. 16, 1947, died May 1978, SS# issued in Cal. In 1961)

California Birth Index  (Charles Arthur Abajian, born Sep. 16, 1947, in L.A. Co., mother’s maiden name was Owen)

Photos

Mac Bale

Born:  April 23, 1945

Died:  February 1, 1970

Buried:  Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California

Age:  24

Full Name:  Malcolm Lewis Bale

Nickname: 

Location:  Lake Ming, near Bakersfield, California

Event:  Kern County Boat and Ski Club Drag Race

Accident Date:  February 1, 1970

Boat:  "Climax" hydroplane

Biographical:  His craft went out of control at about 170 MPH.  He had just finished a run and had just deployed his parachute when his boat fishtailed and he was flipped into the water.   Rescuers pulled him from the water, but a doctor at the scene said he apparently had suffered brain damage and a concussion.  He was transported to Kern General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.  He was from Walnut Creek, California.

Sources

"Hydro driver Bale killed," Hayward Daily Review, February 2, 1970

"Drag boat driver killed in crash at Lake Ming," Los Angeles Times, February 2, 1970

Find a Grave website (Malcolm Lewis Bale, buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California, born Apr. 23, 1945, died Feb. 1, 1970)

Photos

http://billkuhn.wordpress.com/2008/05/11/mac-bale-driving-the-old-sanger-top-fuel-hydro-climax/  (accessed 7/10/10)

 

Jan Barrett

Born:  November 13, 1939

Died:  October 7, 1973

Buried: Oak Hill Cemetery, Ballard, California

Age:  33

Full Name:  Jan Michael Barrett

Nickname: 

Location:  Lake Ming, near Bakersfield, California

Event:  

Accident Date:  October 7, 1973

Boat:  

Biographical:  He was traveling at more than 150 MPH when his boat became airborne and flipped over on top of him.  He was transported to Kern County General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.  He was from Playa del Rey, California, and was a former football player for Cal State at Fresno.

Sources

"The Southland," Los Angeles Times, October 9, 1973

"Man killed in boat race," Hayward Daily Review, October 9, 1973

"Boater killed," Oxnard Press-Courier, October 8, 1973

California Death Index  (Jan M. Barrett, born November 13, 1938 in Calif., died Oct. 7, 1973 in Kern Co.)

Social Security Death Index  (Jan Barrett, born Nov. 13, 1939, died Oct. 1973, SS# issued in Calif. In 1954)

California Birth Index  (Jan Michael Barrett, born Nov. 13, 1939 in Santa Barbara Co., mother’s maiden name was Wolf)

Photos

Don Brandon

Born:  September 23, 1937

Died:  November 3, 1974

Buried: Alex Cemetery, Oklahoma

Age:  37

Full Name:  Delyn Don Brandon

Nickname: 

Location:   Lake Ming, near Bakersfield, California

Event:  

Accident Date:  November 3, 1974

Boat:  18-foot blown gas flat

Biographical:  His boat went out of control, went out of the water, and he was thrown from the boat when it re-entered the water.  He was transported to Mercy Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.  He was from Fair Oaks, California.

Sources

California Death Index:  Delyn D. Brandon, b. Sep. 23, 1937, Oklahoma, d. Nov. 3, 1974, Kern County

Social Security Death Index:  Delyn Brandon, b. Sep. 23, 1937, d. Nov. 1974, SS# issued in Oklahoma in 1955

Don Brandon, e-mail communication to site administrator, Jan. 30, 2012

"Race boat pilot killed in crash," Long Beach Press-Telegram, Nov. 4, 1974

Photos

Don Brandon, e-mail communication to site administrator, Jan. 31, 2012

Find a Grave

 

This photo was taken the day before his fatal crash.

 

Buster Brownfield

Born:  December 31, 1934

Died:  November 15, 1975

Buried: Sierra Hills Memorial Park, Sacramento, California

Age:  40

Full Name:  Buster Ross Brownfield

Nickname: 

Location:   Nimbus Lake, near Folsom, California

Event:  

Accident Date:  September 1975

Boat:  Keith Black Chrysler-powered "Zip Code"

Biographical:  He lived for several months after the accident, succumbing to heart failure in a convalescent hospital. He was survived by his wife, Marsha.

Sources

California Death Index:  Buster R. Brownfield, born Dec. 31, 1934 in Calif., died Nov. 15, 1975 in Sacramento.

Social Security Death Index:  Buster Brownfield, born Dec. 31, 1934, died Nov. 1975, SS# issued in Calif. In 1951

California Birth Index:  Buster Ross Brownfield, born Dec. 31, 1934 in Nevada Co., mother’s maiden name was Macbuster

Don Brandon, e-mail communication to site administrator, Jan. 30, 2012

Mark Hoffman, telephone conversation with site administrator, Apr. 18, 2014

Bill Roberts, e-mail communication to site administrator, Aug. 1, 2014

Photos

Ray Caselli

Born:  November 4, 1933

Died:  March 18, 1973

Buried: 

Age:  39

Full Name:  Raymond J. Caselli

Nickname: 

Location:  Oakland Marine Stadium, California

Event:  American Powerboat Spring National Championships

Accident Date:  March 18, 1973

Boat:  "Panic Mouse" blown fuel flatbottom

Biographical:  Just after winning his race at a speed of 131.38 MPH, the boat started riding on its side and then nosed into the water.  It was thought that he may have broken a rudder.  He was thrown clear of the boat and his emergency parachute opened, but hit the water at a bad angle on his neck.  It was a freak accident.  He was transported to Alameda Hospital where he died five hours after the crash.  He was a former world record holder from Reseda, California.  Just a week earlier he had won the blown fuel flatbottom class during the California Drag Boat Championships at Long Beach with a speed of 144 MPH.

Sources

"Drag racer dies in Oakland crash," Hayward Daily Review, March 20, 1973

"Boat driver dies in flip," Long Beach Press-Telegram, March 20, 1973

[Donnell Culpepper column], Long Beach Press-Telegram, March 21, 1973

"Crash claims boat racer," Bryan Times, March 20, 1973

"Racer killed," Ellensburg Daily Record, March 20, 1973

Social Security Death Index (Raymond Caselli, born Nov. 4, 1933, died Mar. 1973, SS# issued in Illinois)

California Death Index

Photos

http://sports.webshots.com/photo/1028259824033146580JIqvLPEzHF   (accessed 7/10/10)

http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=281595&page=12  (accessed 7/10/10) 

Mark Hoffman, email to site administrator, Apr. 18, 2014

 

 

Mac Christensen

Born:  August 31, 1933

Died:  June 30, 1974

Buried: Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California

Age:  40

Full Name:  Charles Mack Christensen

Nickname: 

Location:  Oakland Marine Stadium, California

Event:  

Accident Date:  June 30, 1974

Boat:  Hondo "Shockwave"

Biographical:  He was traveling about 180 MPH on a tuning run when his boat flipped and he was thrown out.  He was transported to Alameda Hospital, but died from his injuries about three hours later.  He was married and the father of three children and was from Norwalk, California.  He was the national champion in 1971 and 1972 while driving his unblown fuel hydro "Crucifier." In 1973 he set the quarter mile record of 202.46 MPH.

Sources

"Drag boat champ dies in accident," Long Beach Independent, July 2, 1974

"Mac Christensen, former boat racing champ," St. Petersburg Times, July 2, 1974

"Boat champion dies in mishap," Bangor Daily News, July 2, 1974

"Boat racing champ killed," Florence Morning News, July 4, 1974

California Death Index  (Mack Christensen, born Aug. 31, 1933 in Utah, died June 30, 1974 in Alameda Co.)

Social Security Death Index  (Charles Christensen, born Aug. 31, 1933, died June 1974, SS# issued in California before 1951)

Photos

Ted Holden

Born:  May 16, 1940

Died:  June 13, 1971

Buried:  Sierra Hills Memorial Park, Sacramento, California

Age:  31

Full Name:  Charles Anthony Holden

Nickname: 

Location:  Fern Ridge Reservoir, Eugene, Oregon

Event:  Balboa Raceways Championship Circle and Drag Boat Race

Accident Date:  June 13, 1971

Boat:  "Lika-De-Split" blown fuel hydro

Biographical:  During eliminations, his boat was traveling about 140 MPH when the boat began rocking back and forth on its sponsons.  It started to lift into the air before it turned on its left side and nosed into the water. The craft cartwheeled a few times and Holden was thrown out.  The boat then disintegrated.  Some witnesses reported seeing Holden's parachute become entangled in the engine, but the chute didn't have enough time to deploy.  He was transported to Sacred Heart General Hospital where he was pronounced dead about 45 minutes after the accident.  He was from Sacramento, California, and had been racing drag boats for more than six years.

Sources

"Fern Ridge boat crash kills driver," Eugene Register-Guard, June 14, 1971

Social Security Death Index  (Charles Holden, born May 16, 1941, died June 1971, SS# issued in Calif. In 1956)

California Birth Index  (Charles Anthony Holden, born May 16, 1940, in L.A. Co., mother’s maiden name was Schafer)

Photos

Howard Lakin

Born:  October 19, 1942

Died:  May 19, 1974

Buried: 

Age:  31

Full Name:  Howard Albert Lakin

Nickname: 

Location:  Lake Ming, near Bakersfield, California

Event: 

Accident Date:  May 19, 1974

Boat:  "Big Fella" unblown fuel flatbottom

Biographical:  The week before his fatal accident he had set a record of 147 MPH in his class and was trying to improve it at Lake Ming when he died from injuries in a crash.  He was from Fresno, California.

Sources

"Pit stop," Modesto Bee, May 24, 1974

http://www.riverracer.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-92487.html  (accessed 3/6/11)

California Death Index:  Howard A. Lakin, b. Oct. 19, 1942, in Calif., died May 19, 1974, in Kern Co.

California Birth Index:  Howard Albert Lakin, b. Oct. 19, 1942, in San Francisco Co., mother’s maiden name was Rice  (brother was Dale Bruce Lakin, born Jan. 19, 1951)

Photos

 

Earl Lothringer

Born:  November 16, 1943

Died:  October 31, 1976

Buried: Westminster Memorial Park, Westminster, California

Age:  32

Full Name:  Earl Roy Lothringer, Jr.

Nickname: 

Location:  Turlock Lake State Park, California

Event:  Central Valley Drag and Ski Boat Association race

Accident Date:  October 31, 1976

Boat:  blown fuel hydro

Biographical:  In the first hour of the race, his engine blew and the craft flipped several times.  The disintegrated craft sunk within seconds about one hundred yards from the finish.  He was a rookie driver from Fullerton, California.

Sources

"Photo finish in feature drag overshadows mishaps," Modesto Bee, November 1, 1976 (surname spelled Loftwinger in article)

Kentucky Birth Index  (Earl R. Lothringer, born Nov. 16, 1943, in Jefferson Co., mother’s name was Ada Shepard)

California Death Index  (Earl R. Lothringer, born November 16, 1943, in Kentucky, died Oct. 31, 1976, in Stanislaus)

Social Security Death Index  (Earl Lothringer, born Nov. 20, 1943, died Oct. 1976, SS# issued in Texas in 1957)

Photos

Hal Horrocks, e-mail to site administrator, Jan. 5, 2016

 

 Earl Lothringer driving Hal Horrocks's boat "Rollin' Thunder" at Lake Ming

 

 Earl Lothringer, driver of Hal Horrocks's "Rollin' Thunder"

Porter McFarland

Born:  December 13, 1932

Died:  May 23, 1976

Buried: Memorial Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Age:  43

Full Name:  Porter Anderson McFarland

Nickname: 

Location:  Starkville, Mississippi

Event:  

Accident Date:  May 23, 1976

Boat:  "Ugly Duckling" blown fuel jet class

Biographical:  He was racing Dan Pastorini. He was from Memphis, Tennessee, where he owned McFarland Marine and was survived by his wife, Nell.

Sources

Social Security Death Index: Porter McFarland, born Dec. 13, 1932, died May 1976, las residence Memphis, TN, SS# issued in Tennessee before 1951

Ancestry.com:  Porter Anderson McFarland, born Dec. 13, 1932 in Memphis, TN, died May 23, 1976 in Mississippi

Margaret Meier, e-mail communication to site administrator, Mar. 9, 2011

http://dragboatalley.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=5;t=000402;p=0 (accessed 3/12/11)

http://www.donzi.net/forums/showthread.php?t=31246 (accessed 3/12/11) 

Photos

John Phillips

Born:  September 25, 1955

Died:  July 9, 1977

Buried:  Thetford Township Cemetery, Clio, Michigan

Age:  21

Full Name:  John Martin Phillips

Nickname: 

Location:  Holloway Reservoir, near Columbiaville, Michigan

Event:  NDBA race

Accident Date:  July 9, 1977

Boat:  "Sundowner" blown alcohol hydro

Biographical:  He had just finished a qualifying run when his boat flipped over and blew up.  He was from Clio, Michigan.  One of his previous boats was a blown gas hydro named "Deliverance."  His brother remembered him racing that boat when he had a broken leg in a cast.

Sources

"4 die in water-related incidents," Ironwood Daily Globe, July 11, 1977

"Motorsports: Death," St. Petersburg Times, July 11, 1977

Social Security Death Index (John Phillips, born Sep. 25, 1955, died July 1977, SS# issued in Michigan)

Dave Phillips, e-mail communication to site administrator, Oct. 5, 2010 

Photos

Jim Sanders

Born:  June 18, 1927

Died:  July 12, 1970

Buried:  Memorial Oaks Cemetery, Houston, Texas

Age:  43

Full Name:  James Luther Sanders

Nickname: 

Location:  Town Lake, Austin, Texas

Event:  Drag Boat and Circle Races Regional Championship

Accident Date:  July 12, 1970

Boat:  hydroplane

Biographical:  His boat went out of control while traveling 130 MPH.  The boat flipped over and he was thrown clear of the craft, but drowned before anyone could get to him.  He was from Houston.

Sources

"Names in the news," Long Beach Press-Telegram, July 13, 1970

"Boat racer killed," Raleigh Register, July 13, 1970

"Hydroplane driver dies at Austin," Corpus Christi Times, July 13, 1970

"Death toll reaches 45 in violence," Victoria Advocate, July 13, 1970

Social Security Death Index (James Sanders, born June 18, 1927, died July 1970, SS# issued in Texas)

Photos

Chuck Skaggs

Born:  March 7, 1931

Died:  June 7, 1970

Buried: 

Age:  39

Full Name:  Charles Lee Skaggs

Nickname: 

Location:  Willamette River, Portland, Oregon

Event:  exhibition

Accident Date:  June 7, 1970

Boat:  "Manta Ray" blown fuel hydroplane

Biographical:  Races scheduled to be held as a part of Portland's Rose Festival Marine Day were canceled due to choppy water conditions.  Undeterred, some of the drivers made exhibition runs for the onlookers.   While making an exhibition run, Skaggs was thrown from his boat when it became airborne and nose-dived into the water.  He was traveling at an estimated 100 MPH at the time of the accident.  He died in City of Roses Hospital while surgeons tried to save his life.  He was from Renton, Washington.

Sources

"Renton hydro driver killed," [unidentified news clipping], June 1970

"Boat racer fatally hurt," Pittsburgh Press, June 8, 1970

"Boat driver Skaggs killed," Lodi News-Sentinel, June 8, 1970

"Hydroplane's plunge kills veteran driver," Bend Bulletin, June 8, 1970

Oregon Death Index  (Charles L. Skaggs, died June 7, 1970 in Multnomah Co., age 31, wife’s name was Joan)

Social Security Death Index 

Photos

Ed Wilcox

Born:  March 10, 1930

Died:  September 3, 1978

Buried:  Hills Ferry Cemetery, Newman, California

Age:  48

Full Name:   Norris Edward Wilcox

Nickname: 

Location:  Red Bluff, California

Event:  

Accident Date:  September 3, 1978

Boat:  Super Modified "Super Duck"

Biographical:  He lived in Modesto, California.

Sources

Mike, e-mail communication to site administrator, Oct. 20, 2016

California Birth Index

California Death Index

U.S. Social Security Death Index

Photos

Don Williams

Born:  March 10, 1941

Died:  July 9, 1978

Buried:  South Park Cemetery, Pearland, Texas

Age:  37

Full Name:  Donald Lee Williams

Nickname: 

Location:  Brazos River, near Waco, Texas

Event:  

Accident Date:  July 9, 1978

Boat:  blown fuel jet class

Biographical:  He was from Houston, Texas.

Sources

Ancestry.com:  Donald Lee Williams, b. May 10, 1941 in Houston, TX, died July 9, 1978 in Waco, TX

Find a Grave:  Donald Lee Williams, b. Mar. 10, 1941, died July 9, 1978, buried in South Park Cemetery, Pearland, TX

Texas Birth Index: Donald Lee Williams, born Mar. 10, 1941 in Harris Co., parents were Freeman Richard and Dorothy Mae Wylie Williams (sister was Mary Charlene Williams, born Dec. 10, 1948

Texas Marriage Collection:  Donald L. Williams, born abt. 1941, age 35, md. Linda L. Jenkins on July 30, 1976 in Harris Co.

Margaret Meier, e-mail communication to site administrator, Mar. 9, 2011

Photos

 

DRAG BOAT DEATHS

  • Abajian (1978

  • Anderson (2002)

  • Antes (1990)

  • Bale (1970)

  • Barnes (2004)

  • Barrett (1973)

  • Benson (1991)

  • Bird (1967)

  • Black (1997)

  • Brandon (1974)

  • Brownfield (1975)

  • Bruns (1980)

  • Cantrell (1997)

  • Capaldi (1994)

  • Caselli (1973)

  • Cayer (1980)

  • Chapman (1986)

  • Christensen (1974)

  • Coates (1967)

  • Comer (1992)

  • Davis (1988

  • Dew (1990)

  • Donegan (1985)

  • Ermshar (2009)

  • Faulkner (2001)

  • Florence (1984)

  • Fry (2015)

  • Gleason (1969)

  • Hartman (1986)

  • Hawkins (2000)

  • Hindman (1990)

  • Hipwell (2004)

  • Hobbs (1984)

  • Holden (1971)

  • Jones (1987)

  • Keen (1968

  • Kirk (1982)

  • Kunzeman (1992)

  • Lakin (1974)

  • Lawson (1967)

  • Lothringer (1976)

  • McFarland (1976)

  • Muller (1985)

  • Mullins (1992)

  • Neuharth (2005)

  • Nolte (1986)

  • Phillips (1977)

  • Proctor (1969)

  • Rawleigh (2008

  • Riggs (1983)

  • Rogers (1988)

  • Roland (1988

  • Sanders (1970)

  • Scheff (1981)

  • Skaggs (1970)

  • Skalicky (2005)

  • Spencer (1985)

  • Stanley (2016)

  • Stephens (1996)

  • Stipp (1968

  • Thomas (1989)

  • Todd (1986)

  • Tucker (2009)

  • Vachal (1987)

  • Wallace, Jay (2006)

  • Wallace, Jerry (1988

  • Wilcox (1978

  • Williams (1978

  • Wright (1982)

  • Yates (1987)

  • Young (1986)

  • Zenovka (1983)

WORLD WATER SPEED DEATHS

  • Arfons (1989)

  • Campbell (1967)

  • Cobb (1952)

  • Owen (1962)

  • Segrave (1930)

  • Taylor (1980)

  • Verga (1954)

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