Jerry Bangs Question

By Fred Farley - ABRA Unlimited Historian

QUESTION:

What year was Jerry Bangs killed and how old was he.and can you tell us some history of his career. Also can you give us some history of the boat he was killed in and what happened to the Hull? - Mike McCormick

ANSWER:

Jerry Bangs lost his life at age 43 while driving the SQUIRE (U-64) in Heat 1-A of the 1977 Seattle Seafair Regatta. The boat hooked in the south turn and flipped him out. He landed head first and broke his neck.

He was in his fourth year as an Unlimited driver. His best finish in an Unlimited was a second with the U-64 at Dayton, Ohio, a month before his death.

The boat he was driving was the last Unlimited to be built by Les Staudacher. It was a cabover hull powered by a turbo-Allison. Chip Hanauer drove it as THE SQUIRE SHOP for a couple of years and then it passed through several ownerships. Its aliases included MISS KYYX, MISS CKLW, MISS RABEN TIRE, RAMPAGE III, MISS BECO, and OH BOY! OBERTO. It last appeared in 1986. I'm uncertain as to its present whereabouts.

Jerry passed his Unlimited driver's test in 1974 at the Tri-Cities with RED BALL EXPRESS, one of the "budget" boats. Later in 1974, he filled in for the injured Jim McCormick at several races as driver of RED MAN.

He drove the MISS MADISON in 1975 and the MISS VERNORS in 1976.

Bangs enjoyed greater success in the Limiteds than in the Unlimiteds. He was 5-Litre National High Point Champion three years in a row, starting in 1972, with CHAMPAGNE LADY.

Jerry Bangs was a good friend of mine. If he had lived, I believe he would have developed into a champion Unlimited driver. He was a very intelligent man as he would have to be, being a trial lawyer by profession.

Often times, he would see things happen in the sport that he didn't like. But he didn't want to blow off steam to the media and give the sport a black eye. So, he would seek me out and unburden himself to me, knowing that his comments would stay between us. I felt very privileged that he would share those confidences with me.

I still miss Jerry.


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