Mira Slovak escaped from Communist
Czechoslovakia with a planeload of passengers,
was an air racer and stunt-show pilot, and became
one of hydroplane racing’s most beloved drivers.
David Williams (right) with Mira Slovak as he sits in the cockpit of the Hydroplane Museum’s Miss Wahoo replica in 2011.
David Williams, the executive director of the Hydro plane and Race Boat Museum, has written a book about the life of Mira Slovak that will be available in a few weeks. In the following discussion, Williams recalls the time he spent with Slovak as he was gathering information for the book. The conversation took place in Williams’ office at the Hydro Museum and was recorded by Craig Fjarlie on March 22 of this year.
Cindy Shirley is named crew chief of Miss HomeStreet.
David Williams: Memories of Mira.
times to look at the progress on the boat and at that point we became pretty good friends. He came to a few events that we had here at Seattle and also Chelan and Coeur d’Alene and I got to spend quite a bit of time with him. Continued, click here...
UNJ: When you met with Mira Slovak to do the book, what were some of the things that you learned about him that you didn’t know?
Williams: First of all, just to give you a little background, like all of us in hydroplanes, I knew of him as a kid. He and I didn’t meet until whenever it was that the Exide team came back with the boat from Detroit, the two-wing boat. Mira
came, I guess I saw him at San Diego that year. We talked and I told him what I was doing. Then, when we began the Wahoo replica, he would fly into town a couple
The Miss HomeStreet hydroplane racing team
has named Cindy Shirley to be the crew chief, thus becoming the first woman to hold that position on a championship level race team in the turbine-era of the sport. Shirley, who has been with the team for 15 years, most recently served as its boat chief.
“I’m proud to be a part of the Miss HomeStreet family and thankful for the opportunity to lead a team of talented professionals,” Shirley said. “Ever since watching
my first hydroplane race as a little girl, I’ve been in love with the sport. It’s a dream come true to be part of this championship team.”
by A.J. Muntz
100 YEARS AGO
The 1918 Season
When the legendary Gar Wood
won the 1917 Gold Cup on the
Mississippi River in Minneapolis,
Minnesota, with his Miss Detroit II,
he not only took the prestigious
trophy back to the Motor City, he
also returned with a wild idea.
In getting ready for that race,
Wood had watched the hometown
Looking back at the sport’s history.
Miss Minneapolis make a test run using an airplane engine. The attempt had failed spectacularly, with the engine coming apart just as all the experts thought it would. Airplane engines were simply too fragile for the beating they would take in a race boat, they reasoned. But, Wood was nevertheless intrigued by the notion of an engine that pound for pound would give him such an incredible advantage in power.
The docks along the shore of the Detroit River during the 1918 Gold Cup.
The Miss Detroit III is in the foreground and beyond it are the other Gar Wood
entries, the Miss Detroit II and the Miss Minneapolis.
Each spring, we travel back in time to take a glimpse at the long history of unlimited hydroplane racing. The sport has covered quite a distance in that time, from long and narrow powerboats that cut their way through the water at speeds of about 20 miles per hour, to exotic and colorful machines that scream across the water’s surface at almost 200 miles per hour. As we prepare for the 2018 season, let’s look at what happened 100, 75, 50, and 25 years ago.