View Full Version : Douglas Willey

02-06-2006, 12:15 PM
More sad news for all those that knew one of the great characters in boat racing. I have just been informed by his daughter, Kim, that Douglas died in his sleep over the weekend. He will be missed. He has invited me on many pheasant shoots over the years with his and Jane's hospitality at their 300+ year old manor house. I will never forget his many stories and trips to boat races when we had to stop every couple of hours to have a cop of tea.

02-06-2006, 04:36 PM
Douglas, Jane never liked for him to be called Doug, Pip was OK, began racing in the early 60s in the 350H. Later went into the 500 & 700 classes. He had many English championships and speed records. He also competed on the continent and was on the podium many times, but I don't believe he was ever first. He quit in 1986 after stuffihg his 700 into the Danube and spending a week in the hospital in Vienna. There will be more info on him on his club website. www.lobmbc.co.uk

02-06-2006, 06:28 PM
Ralph, I will always remember Pip Willey telling all the Americans at the World Championships or anywhere else that we saw him, he would always say, "I will never understand why you Colonials wasted all that tea in that harbor." We would always have a big laugh. He was a great guy to be around and an asset to boat racing.

Master Oil Racing Team
02-06-2006, 06:49 PM
Very sorry to hear of the passing of Pip Willey. There are too many funny stories to remember. I wish Chris Applebee would get on here and tell a few. I think it was traditional with him at many races to put a tablecloth on a small table and sit down to have a drink of tea when the five minute gun fired. He was well known as a "guide?" (I forget his name for it) for pheasant hunting. Do I remember correctly Ralph, that one of his famous hunters was Nikita Kruschev or was it Leonid Brezhnev?

02-07-2006, 05:25 AM
It was with much sadness that I learned of Douglas' death.

As a fellow Brit, and someone who has been involved in hydro racing for many years, Douglas was a legend and a true inspiration for many up and coming drivers. The reports of his racing in Europe were the stuff of legends and eagerly awaited by all concerned. Plus of course there were the tales and anecdotes that always accompanied Douglas wherever he went

I'm sure that Ralph, Steve and others that ventured across this side of the pond have many stories to tell of Douglas - it would be great to hear them. There are no doubt many to tell, not only about his love of tea (or as he would put it "a bloody cuppa tea luv") but other 'scrapes' and 'adventures' he got himself into

One that springs to mind is an occassion when his horse was ill and Jane, upon returning home, found that Douglas had moved the horse from the stables into the front room of the house to nurse it back to health.....

He will be sadly missed, but never forgotten, by so many people

Master Oil Racing Team
01-19-2018, 07:54 PM
I found it guys. I wish there was a way to transfer what you Steve and Ralph have already started regarding that trip, but anyway, I think this should be the repository for the Douglas Willey stories and pictures. Last time I saw him was at Lakeland in 1993.

Master Oil Racing Team
01-19-2018, 07:57 PM
So if you will Steve and Ralph, continue on here so we can here ALL the stories. I have some more, but they are on different threads, so I will retell them here. Just refer back to Dale's thread if you want to start at the beginning, but I think you guys could add a little bit more if you started it over again here. I know Steve can, but Ralph doesn't type as much as he can tell.;)

Steve Litzell
01-20-2018, 02:28 AM
I found it guys. I wish there was a way to transfer what you Steve and Ralph have already started regarding that trip, but anyway, I think this should be the repository for the Douglas Willey stories and pictures. Last time I saw him was at Lakeland in 1993.
Well in 93 was when I got my butt cut and other parts as well. Douglas and I shared a room. Every morning we had to go to Krystal for a sunriser. He said it is a heavenly bit of a sandwich. Then every night it was Outback Steakhouse. I told him that eating that much meat and no salad, he wouldn’t be able to crapfor a week. He said ahh don’t worry Yank, I worry about crapping when I get back to England. Last time I saw Douglas was in 97 at the 0700 Worlds in Cypress Gardens. The first time I met Douglas was in Brussels as said in other post. He was with Paul, and when we got to Grein he introduced me to Bev and Chris as well as Andy Chessman as well as Mike Ward and countless others. They later found out I was working at factory and helped them with their repairs which Deiter really appreciated as it did not take Uli’s time away from factory work, so it all worked out great. One time on a visit to the UK, we visited Douglas at his house in Mumford. This is were I stayed at the bed and breakfast I told about. Douglas showed me around and told me his hose was built in something like 1200. Then he says we had a new addition to the place in 1250. Very old place and very cool. He then took me out in a field to show me his horse. Now I was expecting a pasture like we have here and be able to see the horse. The grass was taller than me! I’m 6’3, he says yes walk about, will find him. So were walking through this tall thick grass and Douglas says, I know he’s close, here some fresh Sh. After a good chuckle, we did find the horse. I still have the hat he gave to me the first time I met him. I think he tried to make me a subject and always told how we Yanks were so rough and crude. I had to remind him often as I did before with,” Sir, I’m not a Yankee, I’m a Southerner!” This brought much amusement to him and other Brits whenI told him that.

Master Oil Racing Team
01-20-2018, 08:02 AM
I first met Douglas in Berlin 1976. He and Chris Applebee drove over in his Citroen to race in the World Cup. There was a little round table for two by his pits. When the five minute gun fired in his class he threw a small table cloth over the table, set a small vase with a single rose in it, placed a teacup and saucer on it and poured himself a cup of tea. Then he pulled up a chair and sat down to sip it. Later, Douglas conked out in one heat and drifted against the shoreline. He spotted an old rusted bicycle laying in the grass. While they were towing him back to the pits, he had place the bicycle in his cockpit (no tires) and was sitting on the seat and pedaling.

01-20-2018, 09:01 AM
I just now saw this, go back to the other post for the airport explanation.

Master Oil Racing Team
01-20-2018, 11:04 AM
Ralph and Steve, I don't know if either of you heard this story, and it is nothing like Douglas telling it himself. The way he told it with a straight face and his dry humor had tears coming out of my eyes when I was laughing.

Douglas was a hunting guide and took people on estates and other lands to hunt pheasants. Not sure what else he might have hunted, but I remember the pheasants, so this story might have been at a hunting lodge on someone's estate, or a gentleman's club or someplace else. I just can't recall. Anyway it was a very old and castle like with a huge fireplace that could hold big logs. The room was large with a very high ceiling and a good fire was burning. There were four aristocratic type gentlemen sitting at a table playing some game of cards. The room was totally silent and the men would just play their hands and no talking, joking or laughing. They were just being too serious and totally boring for Douglas. He was just standing around doing nothing and thought he should liven the party up. So Douglas walked over to the fireplace and took a long pee directly onto the burning wood. A large cloud of steam boiled out of the fireplace, rose up the face of the chimney, then floated over the heads of the card playing gentlemen. I can't remember exactly what Douglas said with that straight face, but basically the men just kept on playing like nothing had happened. A kind of "keep a stiff upper lip" and keep on playing.

Like to hear more of that trip with Douglas Willey.

01-20-2018, 03:16 PM
Wayne, not surprised at that, although Douglas did embellish his stories beyond the facts. I went on many pheasant shoots with him and sometimes Chris Applebee was along. He did organize his own shoots, but I only went on one that he was the guide. Normally he would arrange with some other organizer for me and a friend I had invited to be a guest. They were not cheap, the other shooters usually paid for the whole pheasant season. We would have to be at a certain location at 7:00, still dark, the organizer went through the safety procedures with the colonials and you were served a schnapps and a danish. Then, most of the time there was a small bus that that would take you out to the field, you would line up in a semi circle with bearer behind you with both guns and shells, only double barrels, no automatics. Then the beaters would start beating the bushes way out in front of you and pheasants started flying. You would empty one gun and the bearer would hand you another one, this went own until the beaters ran out of bushes. We get on the bus and go to another field, and repeat. Most of the shooters had their own dogs that would bring the birds in, Douglas had Springer Spaniels. The next trip on the bus was to one of these palatial manor houses for gin and tonics before lunch and Port wine after. I was ready for a nap, we get on the bus to another field and repeat again, then back to where we started and divide up the birds, maybe 300, I know I used 100 shells. Back at Douglas house, Jane had our dinner ready, but not before an adult beverage. Slept well!

Master Oil Racing Team
01-20-2018, 05:26 PM
I know he did his best to make a good story better. I don't how close to the facts that this is, but he told me he once took Nikita Kruschev on a pheasant hunt.

01-21-2018, 07:38 AM
I believe I should do this in segments because there are a lot of different episodes.
The first is that Steve and me had arranged to meet at the Atlanta airport for our flight to Europe. We are in line to check in and when they ask for my passport I don't have one, left it at home. We were supposed to meet Douglas Willey and Paul, I don't remember his last name, in Brussels for a ride to Grein, Austria. Of course I couldn't go, and Steve had never met Douglas, so he had to find Douglas in the Brussels airport and I had no way to tell Douglas about the problem. I told Steve to look for an old man with long hair down to his shoulders. Well, Steve did luckily see such a man and yelled Douglas and it was him and they went on to Grein. Douglas had great fun telling everyone about my stupidity. I had to catch a flight the next day to Brussels and rent a car to drive to Grein. Hans Krage brought our boats down from storage behind Dieter's shop. I will stop here for the next segment later.

Per Ralph Donald on a different post

01-21-2018, 07:40 AM
Because Ralph was not there, my only knowledge of Douglas is of what Ralph gave to me. Ralph left out that the Brussels airport is a very busy and crowded place, I mean crowded worse than Atlanta ever could be. I’m in a literal sea of people looking for a old guy with long gray hair. Keep in mind that there are literally thousands of people around, and I could not see for jack. What’s a southern boy to do? I look around and see some steps that will take me to the high ground. So up I go and I had a good view of the crowd. I spotted a guy that sorta looked as discribed and noticed he had a heavy orange OMC jacket on. Well hell, this had to be him, so down stairs I go toward this guy. I stop short and had a listen to what he was saying to another guy, ( this was Paul Brumberly Douglases bearer) and I put two and two together and said to him,Are you Douglas Willy? Well as some might remember, back then I was a pretty big boy with 22 inch arms. Douglas was shocked and jerked as he stepped back because of my stature and said , Yes, who the hell are you lad? I introduced myself and explained what had happened about Ralph and pass port, and his comment was, I’m shocked you Yanks won the war! To my shock I said, who the hell are you calling me a Yankee? Sir I’m a Southerner, not a Yankee. Well it was great times from there on. I will wait for Ralph to tell more about this. Steve

Per Steve Litzell om a different post

01-21-2018, 07:41 AM
My favorite Douglas Willey airport story was told to me by someone, but I can't remember who. Maybe Steve told it, and I thought it happened at the airport in San Francisco, but I could be wrong about that. Anyway, Douglas and his wife were on a long overseas flight after the time when smoking was no longer allowed on a plane. He was going crazy for a smoke and it was all his wife could do to keep him from sneaking into the bathroom to light one up. She finally convinced him that they would land soon, and he could smoke once they got into a terminal. It was later on that smoking became banned in one place after another, then final even in bars, but that was later. This terminal, however, banned smoking already. As soon as the plane stopped Douglas was ready to get inside the terminal for a smoke. He hurried out the gangway and was ready to fire up a cigarette when he found out he could not smoke in there either. He hollered out loud in exasperation for everyone to hear. "A fag...a fag....I got to have a fag!"

Per Wayne on a different post

01-21-2018, 07:43 AM
Wayne, The incident took place at the Atlanta airport, Douglas and Jane were on the way to Fort Myers for a visit with me and Shirley. It was the week before the UIM WC at Cypress Gardens in 1997 where we all went together. I believe that was the first time Rossi showed up with his three cylinder engine.
I wondered if my story telling was in the right place, where should it be?

Per Ralph on a different post

01-21-2018, 08:42 AM
Thanks Dale for the transfer, I will continue soon about Grein and the race , which was not fun.

Master Oil Racing Team
01-21-2018, 11:29 AM
Thanks Dale. Looking forward to more of you tale Ralph.

Douglas really didn't call me a yank much, it was always "You colonials." He told me the first time I met him, "You colonials sure wasted a lot of good tea!" I told him that I was not a colonial, I was a Texan. I told him that the tea party occurred long before Texas became independent from Mexico. Texas was it's own country for ten years before we joined the United States, so I wasn't a colonial.

01-22-2018, 10:11 AM
There are some more memories of Mr. Willey on this thread:


Master Oil Racing Team
01-22-2018, 08:24 PM
Here are a couple of photos of Douglas taken at the OD World Championships at Berlin in 1978. The race was on the Havel and swells were rolling in. Douglas was playing some game with a guy I didn't know. It was something to do with a ball on a chain that they had to grab. In this strip of photos I also included a photo of Dieter leaning against the ADAC trailer and Hans Lubnow talking to someone I don't know. Then I include a selfie of me and Hans Krage. See, selfies have been around forever. I used to do it sometimes because no one was around to take a picture of me to prove I was there.:D

Master Oil Racing Team
01-22-2018, 08:26 PM
Wow! That is so simple now, I will start posting pictures again, and continue my story Baldy's.

Mike Ward
01-24-2018, 08:43 AM
Steve - this must be the hat that Doug gave you ! Where is the rest of the boat ? Berlin 1986.64543

Steve Litzell
01-24-2018, 11:22 AM
Yes it is! Nice to hear from you Mike, Hope all is well across the pond and with the Queen. I think Ralph sold the boat with his a while back, but not sure or I don't recall fully. The age thing you know " Old Boy", Steve

01-24-2018, 12:18 PM
Here are a couple of photos of Douglas taken at the OD World Championships at Berlin in 1978. The race was on the Havel and swells were rolling in. Douglas was playing some game with a guy I didn't know. It was something to do with a ball on a chain that they had to grab. In this strip of photos I also included a photo of Dieter leaning against the ADAC trailer and Hans Lubnow talking to someone I don't know. Then I include a selfie of me and Hans Krage. See, selfies have been around forever. I used to do it sometimes because no one was around to take a picture of me to prove I was there.:D

I believe the first picture is Chris Applebee with Douglas looking on.

Master Oil Racing Team
01-24-2018, 08:13 PM
You are right Ralph, that is Chris. Been too long. I have another photo before that one with Chris swiping his hand at the ball and Douglas holding it. Can't really tell what it's all about because I was very close and you can't see Douglas' face, only his arm. Best I remember is that it was something to do with so fast you can't see it and my photo was out of focus even though I prefocused and thought I was ready. I backed up and captured both of them in my lens, but I did not get the photo of Douglas swiping at it. Maybe he was too fast.

Mike Ward
01-25-2018, 02:59 AM
They are playing CONKERS !
Conkers is a traditional children's game in Britain and Ireland played using the seeds of horse chestnut trees—the name 'conker' is also applied to the seed and to the tree itself. The game is played by two players, each with a conker threaded onto a piece of string: they take turns striking each other's conker until one breaks.

Steve Litzell
01-25-2018, 08:13 AM
And what two better kids could play this game than Chris and Douglas, eh old Boy? Steve

Steve Litzell
01-25-2018, 06:15 PM
One thing some may not know abou Douglas, is he was a pretty good motor man and also always thinking. Some may not know this, but he had what I think was the first up down tower for Lamans type start that I have seen. I had one at one time but don’t know what happened to it now. It used a slave cylinder from a car and some valve springs to operate, and moved the tower up and down. Unlike the Soviet type which did not move up and down, it moved in and out and when turned it would lean the motor to the left. This was done on their Hydrocats that I saw many times.

Master Oil Racing Team
01-25-2018, 07:43 PM
I wonder if he got the idea from his Citroen Steve. When I first met Douglas, we had some time and he told me to come on over to his car and get in. He and Chris drove to a port on the east coast of England with their boats, loaded onto a ferry and disembarked at some European port, then drove through East Germany into West Berlin. As I sat in his Citroen he raised it up, and then lowered it way down to the ground. Can't remember the exact amount of travel, but it was pretty significant. Never been in a car since that did that.

Steve Litzell
01-27-2018, 04:05 AM
I Don’t know for sure Wayne, at that time some were really going deep because they could leave the jetty faster. Prop Work was necessary so boatwould leave and still go fast. The Hydrocats were on the sene and were doing similar things but mostly kicking in and out while underway plus the motor would lean also to the left. Douglas thought out the deep thing and the lift gave him top end. At one of Hans races in Berlin, Douglas would beat the Russians out of the gate and to the first turn. The Hydrocats were fast and could run down a prop rider on the straights and with their ability to turn better than the prop riders they could in most cases win. Douglas would smoke me out of the gate and get through the turn and with his lift, he would godown a bit for acceleration and then lift it for max output. The cats would start their move on him on the straights, but Douglas would get in front of them so they had to either turn a bit or backout. As the cats would turn just a bit they would suck down into the water and slow way up. Doulas would control the whole race this way. Very cleaver he was at this and it did piss the Russians off to no advail. Later cat design would over come this, and today the cats will either turn like a cat on one pin turns or float through a turn like a hydro. I have a picture somewhere, of the first Russian hydrocat with the four other ones built years later. They were all lined upon the beach next to one another and you could see the progresss of them. The coolest one was their B cat that actually flew like a plane and would land on water for the turn. Water pickup was low and at front of lower unit skeg. Boat looked like a small F85 fighter jet. It was however not to long that this boats and cats would not be allowed to run in the A and B Classes.

Master Oil Racing Team
02-17-2018, 09:42 PM
I never knew that side of Douglas, nor even anything like you or Ralph knew him. I always thought of him like an English gentleman with a boat sporting the English green to carry on a tradition. I only was around him in the pits, but I must say, he was a unique individual, and someone I was very glad to have met and raced with.