Drag Boat and Water Speed Record Racer Memorial


John Cobb

Born:  December 2, 1899

Died:  September 29, 1952

Buried:  Christ Church Churchyard, Esher, Surrey, England

Age:  52

Full Name:  John Rhodes Cobb


Location:  Loch Ness, Scotland

Event:  world water speed record attempt

Accident Date:  September 29, 1952

Boat:  de Havilland Ghost jet-engined "Crusader" 31-foot long speedboat

Biographical:  While making an attempt on the world hydroplane speed record, his jet-propelled speedboat passed through the first measured mile at a speed estimated at 200 MPH.  The boat was decelerating after the end of the first measured mile to make the second run, but hit a wave.  This caused it to bounce twice then plunge in a seeming burst of spray and scattered wreckage.  He was probably was killed instantly and his body retrieved from the water.  The recorded time on his first run was 206.89 MPH, the fastest speed ever recorded on water, but didn't set a record because it wasn't backed up.  The British-born racer held numerous automobile speed records including the land speed record of 403 MPH which he set on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1947.  Ten days before his fatal crash, he had sped 173 MPH across Loch Ness despite buffeting winds.  He was trying to break the then-water speed record of 178.4 MPH set by Stanley Sayres of Seattle, Washington, in 1951.

V ideo:


"Boat race ace dies in mishap," Kentucky New Era, September 30, 1952

http://www.solarnavigator.net/john_cobb_crusader.htm   (accessed 7/4/10)

Find a Grave website (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=11852492)

"Jet speed ace killed," Owosso Argus-Press, September 29, 1952

"Speed demon dies as boat disintegrates," Eugene Register-Guard, September 29, 1952


Find a Grave website (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=11852492)

http://www.solarnavigator.net/john_cobb_crusader.htm   (accessed 7/4/10)

"Cobb ready for record" (video newsreel film)  (http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=30283)

"Cobb tests the Crusader" (video newsreel film)  (http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=30290)

http://www.racingcampbells.com/content/campbell.archives/john.cobb.asp   (accessed 7/4/10)




Major Sir Henry Segrave

Born:  September 22, 1896

Died:  June 13, 1930

Buried: [cremated, ashes scattered]

Age:  33

Full Name:  Sir Henry O'Neil de Hane Segrave


Location:  Lake Windermere, England

Event:  world water speed record attempt

Accident Date:  June 13, 1930

Boat:  "Miss England II"

Biographical:  On the very day of his fatal crash, Segrave had set the world water speed record at an average speed of 98.76 MPH in two runs.  He set out on a third run in an effort to increase the record he had just set.  Unfortunately during the run his craft hit a submerged object and capsized.  Segrave's mechanic, Victor Halliwell, was hurled from the boat and drowned in the deep lake.  Segrave was thrown from the cockpit and sustained serious injuries from which he died two hours after the crash.  The boat plunged to a great depth before returning to the surface bottom first with a huge hole torn in the hull.  It was thought the craft may have hit a submerged log.  Lake Windermere was England's largest inland lake.  He died a few minutes after learning that his earlier runs had set the record.  He was the first person to hold both the land and water world speed records at the same time.  He had set three land speed records and the water speed record.  He had previously stopped land speed racing at his wife's request, but his desire for speed caused him to go in quest of the water speed record. 


“Major Segrave, speed king, killed,” Coshocton Tribune, June 13, 1930

"The king is dead," Brownsville Herald, June 15, 1930

"King of speed dies happy; broke record," Ogden Standard Examiner, June 14, 1930

“Major Segrave killed in speed boat spill,” San Antonio Express, June 14, 1930


www.speedace.info (accessed 8/4/10) 

http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=86338&page=137  (accessed 8/5/10)



Mario Verga


Died:  October 9, 1954


Age:  44

Full Name:  


Location:  Lake d'Iseo, Italy

Event:  world water speed record attempt

Accident Date:  October 9, 1954

Boat:  "Laura 3" unlimited dual Alpha Romeo-enginedspeedboat

Biographical:  He was traveling at almost 200 MPH in an attempt to break the world water speed record when he crashed and his boat disintegrated. Several boats immediately rushed to the scene of the crash, but there were no signs of the body or wreckage.  Witnesses reported that the boat appeared to leap off the water and then dive under.  He was the world speedboat champion in the 500 kilogram class.  He was from Italy.


"Fatal bid on speed record," Sydney Morning Herald, October 11, 1954

“Speedboat champ killed trying to set record,” Lebanon Daily News, October 10, 1954


http://www.lesliefield.com/images/mario_verga.jpg  (accessed 7/4/10)

http://www.speedace.info/ (accessed 7/10/10)