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Thomas (Tom) Henry Watts
(1st June 1922 - 2nd March 1980) 57  

 

Truck Record man dies at 260 klms

A truck driver was killed near Sale yesterday when his jet powered prime mover crashed during an attempt on an Australian land speed record.
Police believe he abandoned a safety plan to head for open paddocks on the right side of the highway because he was too close to a group of officials.
Instead, he steered to the left, crashing through a fence and over a railway line before overturning several times.
Williamstown mechanic and former world water speed recordholder Tom Watts, 57, died instantly when he was thrown from Puff the Magic Dragger after it skidded off a section of the Rosedale-Longford Road at 260 klms.
His two sons were watching the record attempt.
Seconds before the crash, Mr Watts tried unsuccessfully to control the 1956 Foden primemover by shutting down its twin Rolls Royce engines and releasing a double parachute.
Police said Mr Watts lost control on loose grave at 9.22 am while trying to establish an official time for the flying kilometre and the mile event.
Senior Constable Bill Riess, who was standing with a timing crew just off the highway, said the truck appeared to hit gravel about 50 metres from where they stood,stewed from the leftside to the right and back again.
I think he decided to swing back when he saw how close we were. Constable Riess said.
Mw Watts, father of seven children, earlier set four new national records for special vehicles on a six kilometre section. A dispute over the timing of a previous record attempt led to the ill fated run.

There was a song written for the family by a friend to the tune of puff the magic dragger Puff the Magic Dragger, fastest truck around, with two jets engines roaring it zooms across the ground and Tommy Watts the driver a man convinced he'd win (find the rest).

Though he did more than three million kilometre as an interstate truckie before buying his service station , truck speed racing was relatively new to him.
And while he held three national jet truck records, he was also a world record holder for power boats.
This perhaps, was, where the real Tommy Watts stood,up to be counted.

One of his first boats was Exciter. The Silvertails laughed when they saw it. He'd bought two second-hand jet engines from an old Meteor and a hydroplane.
He joined the two together with a length of chain and housed the lot in a jigsaw of old steel welded together to roughly resemble the shape of a boat.They laughed even louder when his engines caught fire and he had to retire.
But he came back and eventually set a record of 150 mph 241.4 kmh).
He went on to set three world records in various classes of 162, 146 and 162.63 mph all of which still stand.
And the reason they do is that other jet boats are more than 25 ft. (7.6 metres) long, while his was only 17 ft. (5.1 metres).
"Tommy always said those records would stay forever because none of the others would be mad enough to put jet engines in a 17 footer," Mrs Watts said.

 


The Sydney Morning Herald - Mar 3, 1980

JET-POWERED BOAT WILL FLY

Madden, T. 1974, 'JET-POWERED BOAT WILL FLY,' The Sporting Globe - Saturday April 27, p. 17

The aircraft jet powered hydroplane, Exciter, will give two demonstration runs at the Kimbolton Cup meeting, on Kimbolton Pool, Lake Eppalock, tomorrow.
This will be one of the rare occasions this unconventional craft has been seen in the water.
Because of the obvious dangers to competitors from its jet exhaust, it is not allowed to race.
Built by Tommy Watts to break his own Australian water speed record and world 1200 kg. Reacteur (jet) record of 162 mph, set in a smaller boat, the 20ft. hydroplane has not yet had a serious attempt at that record.
After an impressive warm-up run in kilo trials during the winter of ’72, Watts re-engined the hull with a conventional motor, for circuit racing.
The hull proved unsuitable, and he went back to racing his smaller boat, Exciter Too, which has scored a run of victories this season, and is favourite to win tomorrow’s Kimbolton Cup.
Watts has now re-engined Exciter with the jet, and although he has had the boat past150 mph in trials, he believes that hull modifications are necessary before he can hope to break the 200 mph barrier.
Given good water tomorrow, he intends to take the boat up to 150 mph, but no higher.
After hull modifications have been carried out, Exciter will attempt to break 200 mph at the VSBC’s kilo trials on Lake Eppalock, during the coming winter.

WATTS MAY WIN CUP

If nothing goes wrong, Tommy Watts could have as easy a drive in Exciter Too, in the Kimbolton Cup tomorrow, as he has in demonstration runs in his big, aircraft jet-powered hydroplane, Exciter.
Barring the Griffith Cup winner, VS-41 (Stampede), which is being prepared for shipment to America to contest the world motor boat championship, Exciter Too has proved the outstanding boat on the Victorian circuit this season.
The only boat which might trouble her for speed, Pitstop, will not be contesting the Kimbolton Cup.
Watt’s most formidable opponent will be consistent Vulture (John Lewis), which is the Victorian and Australian unlimited open champion.
Vulture inherited both those titles virtually by default. She has not been able to pace it with Exciter Too in the big cups.
But Vulture is an improved boat, and is reliable.
If there is any thing amiss with Exciter Too’s big hemi-engine, she should take the race.
Watts had problems the Eppalock Gold Cup, and, in test runs later, those problems accelerated into a bent a fractured bearing.
He believes he has everything right again, and is playing safe by reducing blower pressure.
Tomorrow’s race will be the test.
Redline is finished for the season.
Black Knight and Super Roo haven’t managed to put a score on the board, this season, and would be lucky to trouble either Vulture or Exciter Too.

  Select Image to Enlarge
Above - Australia’s only boat propelled by an aircraft engine. Exciter (Tommy Watts), will make one of its rare appearances at the Kimbolton Cup meeting, on Lake Eppalock, tomorrow. Watts, who hopes to break 200 mph later this year, plans to take the boat up close to his Australian water speed record of 162 mph in a demonstration run, if water conditions are suitable.
Select Image to Enlarge


Exciter, Jet powered Hydroplane, Kilo course, Lake Eppalock, Victroian Speed Boat Club, 1969
   
 
 
 

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