Motorboating:
Two Italians Out; Other Wins by a Mile [1934]

The three crack motorboat pilots sent by Italy to Florida for the first international outboard races ever held in the United States, contributed more than their full quota to the excitement.

Prince Carlo Ruspoli

Prince Carlo Ruspoli

Count Theo Rossi

Count Theo Rossi

Antonio Becchi

Antonio Becchi

Midway in a race last week, Prince Carlo Ruspoli flooded the motor of his six-liter hydroplane with gasoline. Suddenly clouds of black smoke and flames belched into the air. Being a Captain in the Italian Navy, the Prince did not desert his boat at once. Instead, he calmly retreated to the cowl in the stern, and closed the throttle. He seemed to be in a suicidal position, for an explosion was likely any minute. Finally, as a tongue of flame lashed into, his face, the Prince shouted: "To hell with the boat," and jumped to comparative safety in the water. He was rescued, but his strange-looking red speeder was burned beyond hope of immediate repair.

Last Sunday another Italian driver, Count Theo Rossi, sat back in his stern cockpit, turned on the powerful motor, and warmed up for the twelve-liter final race on Lake Worth, Palm Beach. Before he knew it, he crashed into a rowboat, catapulting two men overboard. What was worse, the collision ripped a hole in Count Rossi's boat, and he had to withdraw from the race. Sadly he said: "I shall wish myself better luck next time. Is that unfair?"

So first there were three Italians, next two, then one. On Antonio Becchi, veteran automobile daredevil, depended Italy's glory in the twelve-liter final. He came through in a shower of spray. Over the three-lap, 24-mile course he boasted his cigar-shaped hull, powered by an Isotta-Fraschini motor, to victory over three Americans. Though Becchi eased up at the end, he won literally by a mile. averaging 54 miles an hour.

The Class X event was the other important race of the series, Horace Tennes, elongated engineering student at Northwestern University and captain of the United States team, overcame thirteen drivers from six nations. As he crossed the line to win the finals last Sunday, his three most enthusiastic rooters, a brother and two mechanics, cheered so frantically that they fell overboard from the skiff in which they were watching.

(Reprinted from Newsweek, March 24, 1934, p.16)

 


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