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Frank Mons III has a extremely pretty ELVA Mk.VI sports racer #60/21 which had a unusual experience which could make it eligible for the next Olympics in the water-sports entries.

Lake Garnett was the venue, 7th July '63 the date, Harvey Woodward the driver .. CB Harris tells us his memories of the incident ..

"I was assigned the position which proved to be the closest to the accident sight. I was driving my Father's Larson boat and had the scuba divers on board. The car left the track; I was amazed by the speed with which everything occurred. I remember talking to Woody after we had taken him aboard. You are correct in assuming that the car was in the water in an instant; I was amazed at the driver's ability and thinking process. He stood up in the car, kicked off his shoes and gloves, and dived into the lake while the car was airborne. I remember asking him after explaining my amazement, why he had not shed his helmet because I thought that would have been the heaviest piece of gear on him. I still remember him looking into my eyes and commenting "Boy you have obviously not had to dive into the water at 100 plus MPH". He seemed calm and very collected throughout the whole process. My Father was the doctor on call at the local hospital. According to him, after the car was recovered, it went into a local filling station where it received a service that night and ran again the next day. I have no further first hand knowledge other than what took place in the boat. I am familiar with that area of the lake and it was approximately 60 feet deep at that point."

Ken Tripkos tells of his involvement in the history of the car after the lake incident once Frank Mons had made contact ..
"It is indeed my old car. After it went in the lake the car was sold to a shop in Lawrence, Kansas named Roach Racing Works. It sat there until 1974 (maybe 12 years) which is when I purchased it. I bought it as a roller, the engine was missing which is no surprise after I found out what happened to the car. When we were updating the roll bar we couldn't get the frame to heat-up enough to weld, after turning the heat up we burnt through the frame, we were showered with Garnett Lake water. That was the comical moment. The present owner now knows why there are so many small drill/drain holes in the bottom rails of the tubular chassis.

I raced the car in the SCCA Mid-West National/Regional Racing Series for almost 6 years. I raced it at some tracks in the Mid-West like Lake Afton and Ponca City. I started on the pole at Ponca in 1975 with a car that was then obsolete by race car standards but during the race the left lower control arm snapped putting me into the trees; luckily the car missed all the trees which was good for me because I had no steering what so ever. It was after that and another suspension failure that made me sell the car. New tire technology with the then new sticky slicks I was using had outdated the chassis. When Woody raced her there was no such thing as sticky tires which was the way the car was designed and built.

I've always wanted to know how close Woody came to drowning that eventful day in his life, I can't imagine that in the blink of an eye you could be racing on Terra Firma and the next second trying to get out of your belts in the murky depths of Lake Garnett...must have been terrifying for the poor guy. Since the car had a flat bottom it must have skipped like a rock.

Just FYI...that car was my first real race car and led me to a lifetime of racing (over 600 races) with various types of road racing cars and a career in the racing industry. I recently retired as the Competition and Technical Director of SCCA Pro Racing...what a ride! Makes me a little misty eyed just thinking about it."

That day proved to be an expensive one for Harvey Woodward but Lake Garnett is no longer in use as a race circuit and so this infamous ELVA Mk.VI venture into water sport will thankfully not be repeated there! The car lives on, is raced mostly on the U.S. West coast circuits so is now intending to stay on terra firma thanks to the current enthusiastic owner and excellent caretaker Frank Mons III. Best stick to surfing Frank!

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Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:10 pm
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