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Iconic Images of Detroit’s Past Individual Highlight: Gar Wood

The newest pictorial history book by Detroit News Iconic Images of Detroit's Past: History Through the Lens of The Detroit News – features images of champion motorboat builder and racer, Garfield Arthur "Gar" Wood.

Powerboat racer Gar Wood pilots his Miss America VIII in August 1927.

Powerboat racer Gar Wood pilots his Miss America VIII in August 1927.

Wood, who called Detroit his home, set multiple speedboat records with a series of boats, all named Miss America. He raced them on the Detroit River and the St. Clair River, and broke the world record five times. 

In August 1928, Gar Wood’s Miss America VI  blew up on the St. Clair River. His mechanic Orlin Johnson was seriously hurt, but eventually recovered. Wood, who always drove his own boats, escaped injury, but the next Harmsworth Trophy race was in September. He fished his motors out of ninety feet of water, and redesigned and built Miss America VII  in just fourteen days. He won the race with an average speed of 59.33 mph.

His boat Miss America VIII would win the Harmsworth Trophy in 1929 and 1931, with average speeds of 75.29 mph and 85.86 mph respectively.

Gar Wood accepts congratulations after breaking a world speed record with Miss America X in September 1932. 

Gar Wood accepts congratulations after breaking a world speed record with Miss America X in September 1932. 

Miss America X was perhaps his greatest design feat. Powered by four 1800-horsepower, twelve-cylinder Packard engines, the big boat was the first to do over two miles a minute. It averaged 124.86 miles per hour in a measured mile on the St. Clair River in Algonac, becoming the first boat to clock more than two miles a minute

More information about Wood can be seen in The Silver Fox, A brief Gar Wood documentary featuring Miss America IX, available on Youtube.


These photos, and hundreds more beautiful historical images from the Detroit News archives can be found in Iconic Images of Detroit's Past: History Through the Lens of The Detroit News. This limited-edition book is the perfect holiday gift for your loved ones. Click the link below to purchase!

DetroitNews.PictorialBook.com

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The Detroit News presents Iconic Images of Detroit's Past: History Through the Lens of The Detroit News

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