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I would like to expand on the discussion about the Tragic Death of Bob Bird. Bob and I were the very closest of friends and he was like a brother to me and I will never forget him and it still brings tears to my eyes (doing so while posting this) about that accident. I was at that race (I was not racing that day due to a mechanical problem) where Bob lost his life. I was probably the last person to talk to him before the accident. Just before he put his boat in the water; I and another racer discussed our concerns about the modifications he had made to reduce the width of the cavitation plate and adding some heavy return springs. He had made these changes to try to prevent the boat from plowing and to achieve a more nose up attitude at high speed. I asked Bob "are you sure you can exert enough force on your foot pedal to overcome the heavy springs" and his answer was yes.
I believe that this modification along with the way the race course was laid out contributed to this tragic accident.
(1) I believe Bob's boat tried to go airborne and he was not able to use the foot pedal to overcome the cavitation plate.
(2) The course was laid out and angled toward the shoreline and therefore leaving very limited room for shut down and possibly Bob may have tried to turn the boat to avoid hitting the shore.
(3) Him racing the blown fuel hydro should not have happened in the 1st place because they were not even in the same class but put on anyway to put on a show.
My girlfriend was with Carol (Bob's wife) and my girlfriend said Carol turned away from the race just before the accident and therefore never actually saw the accident.
My girlfriend and I took both of his kids (a boy and a girl) back to Oklahoma City to Bob and Carol's house to await Wes Fisher (Wes was the boat manufacturer) bringing Carol home. There was a lot of tears shed in that home that day.
I was a pall bearer at the funeral and it was unbelievable the amount of people that attended. Friends, family and dragboaters from all over the nation were there. Bob was well respected and loved by us all.