Lowell R. Bayles was an Air Race pilot of the "Golden Age of Air Racing." He was the winner of the 1931 Thompson Trophy flying the Gee Bee Model Z. Bayles was killed in the crash of the Model Z during an attempt at the landplane speed record when the plane crashed at over 300 miles per hour (483 km/h) mph.
In 1931, Bayles piloted a Gee Bee Model E Sportster in the Ford National Reliability Air Tour, coming in fourth in the point standing and winning the Great Lakes Trophy for a total of $2000 in prize money.
At the 1931 National Air Races, Bayles and the Gee Bee Model Z, christened the "City of Springfield," cleaned up, first winning the $7500 Thompson Trophy prize with an average speed of 236.239 miles per hour (380 km/h) , then the Shell Speed dash with an average of 267.342 miles per hour (430 km/h) , breaking the speed record for the course, then won the Goodyear Trophy race with an average of 206 miles per hour (332 km/h).
Bayles was born in Mason, Illinois on January 24, 1900, the oldest child of R.E. Bayles. He graduated from Newton, Illinois High School and attended the University of Illinois in mining engineering, but was forced to leave due to eye trouble. He was working as an electrician in various mines around Illinois when he began taking flying lessons.