Robert Dossin Interview [1983]

This past summer [1983] NewsJournal correspondent David Greene had the opportunity to interview Robert Dossin, who along with his cousin Ernie, comprised the second generation of the Dossin family that was closely associated with the running of the Miss Pepsi hydroplanes. The original Dossin brothers, Russell, Walter and Roy, entered unlimited racing in 1946 and competed until retiring after the 1956 season.

Robert Dossin is the son of Roy Dossin, who was the last surviving Dossin brother that brought the Miss Pepsi out in 1955-56 for the final five races of her illustrious career. Ernie Dossin was the son of Russell Dossin, who died shortly after the completion of the 1947 racing season. Walter Dossin died in the middle fifties and did not have any children who followed the progress of the Miss Pepsis as closely as Robert and Ernie.

During the nine seasons that the Dossins competed, they campaigned four boats. They were the Pepsi Cola III (ex Warnie and Dukie) built in 1938, the Miss Peps V (ex So Long) built in 1939, the first Miss Pepsi built in 1948, and the final Miss Pepsi constructed in 1950 by Les Staudacher from a John Hacker design. Among the drivers who drove for the Dossins were Chuck Thompson and Danny Foster, who are among the greatest drivers in the history of motorboat racing.

In the Dossins' first full season in the sport, they captured the Henry Ford Memorial, the APBA Gold Cup, the Emil Auerbach Trophy, the National Sweepstakes, the President's Cup, and the Imperial Gold Cup to compile one of the most successful campaigns in the annals of gold cup racing. After running an unsuccessful Miss Pepsi during the years 1948-49, the second Miss Pepsi posted nine victories from 1950 to 1952 to become hydro racing's first two time high point champion (1951-1952).

The last Miss Pepsi spent the years 1953-54 on the beach before coming back for one last fling at winning the Gold Cup in 1955-56. The comebacking Miss Pepsi was denied the 1955 President's Cup by an adverse ruling penalizing her for jumping the gun in the final heat of that event and few will forget the 1956 Gold Cup controversy in which the Pepsi was awarded the trophy for a brief time.

In the 34 major races in which the Dossin brothers took part, they compiled a winning percentage of .324. This makes them the number eight all time owners in the modern unlimited era in terms of winning percentage. They are also the number one all time owners from the point of view of winning percentage in reference to the other owners who raced out of Detroit, Michigan. Truly their experience in boat racing 15 one of the most remarkable in the long history of the sport.

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After the 1946 gold cup, Howard Hughes got the Dossin brothers interested in sponsoring his boat for the upcoming President's Cup. How did this come about?

The follow that rode as mechanic in the Dukie the race before was named Bill Stroh and he was a close friend of Whitey Hughes. Bill Stroh worked as a supervisor for our company in selling Pepsi Cola. We had five sales supervisors and he was one of them.

He's the one that came in and talked to my dad about sponsoring a boat. After a couple hours of discussion we decided to get into it for the rest of the season.

Practically all the races had been completed for that season, but there were two races left to go. One was at Washington, D.C. and the other was at Now Martinsville, West Virginia. We decided to go with the boat to Washington and that was our first race ever. Pepsi Cola III was the name of the boat.

How did the racing fraternity view the first commercial sponsorship in Unlimited or Gold Cup racing?

We didn't hear too much about it until Mel Crook mentioned that he didn't like advertising involved in Gold Cup racing. As far as the other owners were concerned, there were no complaints. Mel Crook just had a bug about it and didn't like it. He would never mention the name of the boat in his magazine articles. He would just call it U-99.

In the first heat of the 1946 President's Cup, the Pepsi Cola III beat the So Long of Henry Slocum, who had purchased the boat from Lou Fageol. Under Slocum and Fageol, the hull had not been a winner. What led you to purchase this boat instead of building a new one?

That was another case of being approached by a Gold Cup driver. Danny Foster came to us and suggested that we give him a chance to reconstruct the boat and put it in all the races including the Gold Cup. He had plans as to what he was going to do. One of them was to buy the old So Long and extend it seven feet with an overhang for the driver to sit in. He also wanted to take the original engine out and put in an Allison.

He had a close friend, who was an expert at welding aluminum, which was a very difficult thing in those days. Danny brought him to Detroit. The overhang that was attached to the boat was all aluminum and it was constructed by Bob Allinger, a friend of Danny Faster.

Danny Faster was the main mechanic on the boat and also the driver. Had instructed everybody as to what he wanted done. He was with the boat continually during its building. I can remember that the people working with him worked to one or two o'clock in the morning every day on that boat preparing it for the races in 1947.

The Ford Memorial race was the first event that we entered in 1947 and we won. The water was very choppy, consequently the speeds were very slow. There were a lot of boats that fell by the wayside.

The old So Long had a Curtiss engine that had half the cubic inch displacement of the Allison that you were about to install. What were the problems in installing the Allison engine?

We had to put now stringers in, but I don't think there were an awful lot of problems. Danny Foster had helped Dan Arena install the Allison in the Miss Golden Gate III so he had experience. Danny seemed to know what he was doing.

The first time they installed it in our plant, it started up right away with no problem. The only problem that it seemed like we had was when we put it in the water. The boat dug in since it was unbalanced. In order to correct the problem we had to shift the Allison engine back until we got the right balance. Then it was o.k.

What attracted you to the Allison engine as a power source?

We bought 22 Allison engines from a war surplus dealer. We paid between 50 and 100 dollars apiece for them, but we also bought two Rolls-Merlins. We never did use the Merlin.

How did Danny Foster decide to get involved in your racing team?

I think Danny felt he could work with a larger budget with the Dossins in perfecting a relatively new boat. He figured that Al Fallon (the owner of Miss Great Lakes) was limited with his boat expenses because his company was smaller and he had just s o much money that he could budget for this type of thing. Danny figured he could get a better opportunity with the Dossins.

Al Fallon and Danny were very close and they always were years after. After Danny left Fallon he advised the Great Lakes camp in different things and gave them help in repairing their boat when they had problems.

In fact everybody used to help each other out in those days. They used to borrow from each other - anything we needed - tools, additional pieces of tubing or whatever. We would go from one to the other and borrow from each other.

Walter, Roy and Russell were the original Dossin brothers. How were the other members of the Dossin family that were involved in the racing activities related to these brothers?

The only other ones that had anything to do with the racing were myself and Ernie Dossin. I have a brother and Ernie has a brother and Walter had a son, but they never got involved in the racing of the boats.

I used to travel with the boats and so did Ernie. Ernie was the managing crew chief or the boat manager on all the Pepsis. He worked with Chuck Thompson and Danny Faster when we raced the boats. He had a crew of about two or three people.

Were you first attracted to boat racing as an advertising vehicle? How did it fit into your marketing plan?

In a way it ended up that way, but we were nuts about boating. We were nuts about racing too - watching races. It was more of a hobby when we first got into it, but we were fortunate that we could write the expenses off or 70% of the expenses off in advertising. It ended up both a hobby and also advertising - public relations for our company.

Was the Pepsi sponsorship out of the national office or did it originate from your local Pepsi distributorship in Detroit?

In 1947 when we had the race in New York City for the Gold Cup, a party was given for our family and all the people who were involved with racing the boats by the Pepsi Cola company, which had New York as its home office. We were the franchise bottler in the state of Michigan and northern Ohio for Pepsi at the time. We asked them if they would be interested in helping finance our expenses. They had to take it to the board of directors. We got an answer back about two months later that by one vote we lost out in getting the national sponsorship. So we went ahead and did all the sponsoring ourselves - handling all expenses from our company here in Detroit.

You said that 70% of your expenses were written off. Let's say you were going to Washington, D.C. or out to Seattle or anywhere out of your market area, were you able to charge that off?

Yes. We did do that and at one time we thought we could get 100% off. But the argument from the IRS was that a lot of this advertising was being wasted because we were in other cities.

I remember going down there and arguing with the IRS about it. I guess we were fortunate that they allowed us 70%.

This also happened with Jack Schafer, who had the boat called Such Crust. He owned a bakery in Michigan here and the name of his bread was Such Crust bread. He had the same problem we had. So we got together before we went down and argued our point with the IRS they did the same thing to him.

That's how I started this scrap book. I took the scrap book down there and showed them the headlines we were getting. I showed them articles mentioning Pepsi being owned by Dossin food products in Detroit, bottlers of Pepsi Cola. It wasn't too hard to sell them once they saw all the information I had.

How did you determine that your boat racing activities were helpful to your business?

Well, we were doing pretty good anyway - Pepsi sales were going up. We were involved in sports a lot with our company here in Detroit. We had a baseball team that won the national championship twice. We had hockey teams and we had basketball teams. We even sponsored some race cars - the midgets. So we got involved in anything like this - anything that would put our name before the public.

Now you can't say because we did this that it sold Pepsi Cola, but it made people aware of us. It's just like the Belle Isle zoo and the Detroit zoo. We used to donate animals - monkeys, hippos, and so forth. We used to have our sign on the cage there.

How did the name Miss Peps V come about?

In 1946 when we raced under the name Pepsi Cola III the chief referee for the A.P.B.A., who was Mel Crook, did not like advertising combined with boat racing. He called it a gentleman's sport.

But to get into the sport you had to be a multi-millionaire and I am speaking of owners like Horace Dodge and Herb Mendelson. These people had millions of dollars. But nobody also could get into it. It limited the field of racing.

Before the racing season in 1947 began the ruling was made by the A.P.B.A. Gold Cup Committee, that Mel Crook was in charge of at the time, that no boat could use any product name an their boat. What we did was to call the boat Miss Peps V instead of Miss Pepsi. We left the "i" off but we brought the curly cue on the capital P out to look like an "i". So anybody looking at the boat going by would see Miss Pepsi. The reason we named it number V is that Pepsi Cola cost five cents at the time.

The story behind naming our first boat Pepsi Cola III is that my dad had Pepsi II on his cruiser. That was why we put number III on the race boat. I didn't think it made too much sense, but that is the way it worked out.

In her initial race in the 1947 Detroit Memorial, the Miss Peps V won by attrition in a rough water race. What problems did you experience with the boat and how did you correct them - Hughes' Dukie, Fageol's So Long Jr. And Bill Stroh's Nuts and Bolts led the Miss Peps at various times during the day?

The first thing that we did after that race was to remove the sponsons that were the original sponsons of the So Long. They were too small in the first place and should have been eliminated in favor of larger sponsons.

Before the race we could see that the boat could not get up. The hull was too heavy for the size of the sponsons. It just couldn't get up on the three points.

After the Ford Memorial - they called it the Detroit Ford Memorial Race because the Ford Motor Car Company sponsored the race - we knew we had to do something with the boat to make it faster or we just wouldn't have a chance. We almost tripled the size of the sponson in weight and in size. It gave the boat a lot more stability.

The Peps V won her second straight race at the Gold Cup appearing to pick up speed on the entries referenced in the previous question and showing an ability to run with Notre Dame and Tempo VI - two of the leading boats at the time. How did the boat improve between Detroit and New York?

In the second race, the Gold Cup at New York, we had the new sponsons on. Thank God that we did because we would never have finished the race otherwise. Even then those sponsons were so beat up that we had to rebuild them after the Gold Cup race. Everybody else had to rebuild their boats too. They were all splintered.

In the three races at Red Bank two weeks after the Gold Cup the Peps V improved even more being able to dominate the Tempo VI. How did you further improve the boat?

Red Bank was well known for its smooth water. It seemed like boats always used to set records there. Compared to the water at Detroit, the Potomac, or New York, Red Bank had a lot smoother water. There is no doubt about that.

Guy Lombardo's boat still had the Miller engine in 1947. It was not until the following year that he put in an Allison. Danny Foster had a lot of fun at that race since he won all the heats as I remember. He just wiped them out.

Miss Peps V appeared to have a lot of trouble in the first heat of the Silver Cup running behind the Miss Canada III and the Notre Dame, which won the race. After Red Bank the boat appeared ready to dominate the field. What was the problem in the second Detroit race of 1947?

In the first heat when Danny finished in fourth place, he was way at the other and of the course when the gun went off. All the other boats had already started and he was trying to catch up with them.

In the second heat Miss Peps was leading the field by over half of the course. Then Danny Foster hit a floating can by the Detroit Boat Club and it went right up through the sponson. The boat looked like a whale the way it porpoised. Danny was still under power but he had to slow down to half speed and I guess he felt that the boat was vibrating so much that he pulled into the infield.

We just missed the gun in the first heat and Danny got the hole in the second.

At New Martinsville Danny Foster and the Peps V defeated Lou Fageol's new 7 litre So Long to take her sixth win in the eight regattas she participated in during 1947. How did you view your first full season in boat racing?

It was a very happy experience. It made us feel like getting into it more heavily expensewise than we had in 1947.

In the winter of 1947 Clell Perry approached us on a design he had for a two-step hydroplane. His arguments must have been pretty good because my father and uncle went along with him on building that boat from scratch out at Algonac, Michigan. So we told Danny Foster that we were terminating the contract that we had with him, which was terminated anyway after the racing season. We told him that we were going ahead with the new boat we were designing and building.

We sold the Miss Peps V to Stanley Dollar, who ran it out on Lake Tahoe. He used it as a plaything and I guess he did get involved in racing out there. Than we went ahead and built the new boat which we called Miss Pepsi. The new Miss Pepsi was a beautiful, beautiful boat but it wasn't very successful.

Pepsi again dominated the early Detroit regattas in preparing for the 1952 Gold Cup, but could only muster 116 m.p.h. in mile trials in contrast to 178 m.p.h. for the Slo-mo IV. Would you comment on the Pepsi's chute speed in relation to the 3 pointer?

I never thought the Pepsi had a chance to break anybody's straightaway record because it was not a straightaway boat. It was a competition boat built for turning and acceleration.

In view of your experience in 1951, did you have any new approach in defeating the Slo-mos in 1952?

In the 1951 Gold Cup, Lou Fageol in the Slo-mo V beat our boat to the start. Chuck was very concerned about starts. He was very concerned about getting out in front first. He used to practice starts all the time. That was very important to him. With that trough our boat made, that was very important.

There was a lot of bad feeling among some of the other owners because they didn't like to race with Pepsi. They didn't like that trough or deep ditch that our boat left for a wake. If Pepsi got out in number one, it was very hard for the three pointers to get over that trough to pass her.

Pepsi pushed the Slo-mo hard for the first five laps of heat one in the 1952 Gold Cup. Then the V expired and Pepsi went on to record an astounding time of 101 m.p.h. for the ten laps. This was faster than the boat had ever gone before by at least 5 m.p.h. were there any changes made to the boat?

We never changed anything on the hull as far as I knew. But we did have Ray Betman take two of our engines and overhaul them. He worked over the superchargers on them pretty good. They were entirely different after he finished them. We had these engines in at the time and it made a difference in boat speed.

Also the U-99 posted the fastest lap of the day at 103 m.p.h. as opposed to the Slo-mo V's 102 m.p.h. as a result were you convinced that the Pepsi was a faster competition boat?

Yes, I was convinced that Pepsi was a faster competition boat on a three-mile course or a 2 1/2-mile course.

At the end of the first heat of the 1952 Gold Cup, you were in a commanding position in reference to returning the Gold Cup to Detroit. What went wrong in the second heat? Why was Pepsi unable to compete in the third heat?

I think what happened was that the oil just wasn't getting to the gear box. This was what the problem was. The gear box didn't break or anything it just overheated. The oil line to the gear box just broke.

This was the line that went from the oil tank or the oil pump to the gear box. The oil temperature gauges showed that the gearbox was overheating. I think Chuck just shut it down. He didn't conk out. The problem was we couldn't repair it for the third heat.

The Miss Pepsi failed to appear for her hometown regatta, the Silver Cup, four weekends after the Seattle Gold Cup. What was the reason for this?

We couldn't get the gearbox repaired in time. They had to rebuild one of the gears because of the heat temperature on it as a result of our problem in the Gold Cup. I remember they took the gears out and x-rayed them. You just don't build those gears over night.

In your last race at New Martinsville, you had problems for the fourth consecutive year. Why did you go to small places like New Martinsville to race?

The Mayor of New Martinsville, Bob Bruce, came up to visit us in Detroit here - he called at my father's home. We had quite a relationship and acquaintance with him.

We also liked going there after that first time. It was a very homey type atmosphere. Our crew members used to have a lot of fun there. It was a nice little place. They had a small yacht club there called the Magnolia Yacht Club. They made my father a southern colonel. We still have the certificate.

In early 1953 you decided to retire from Unlimited or Gold Cup competition. What were the reasons for your retirement?

Both Walter Dossin and my father had heart problems. They used to get awfully excited at those races. That was a factor. They had also seen tragedy in racing and they just didn't want it to happen to our driver.

When Miss Pepsi turned over at New Martinsville I was sitting in the bleachers there by the starting gun. My aunt (Walter Dossin's wife) was sitting right in front of me. She passed out. I caught her and I thought Walter was going to pass out too. That accident was a big shock to us. No doubt that was on their mind. I heard them (Walter and Roy Dossin) talk about it. They felt that if something happened and our driver got killed it would be very hard to live with. Before something happened the idea was maybe we better get out of this before it ruins our health too.

During your years in the sport, who were some of the individuals that comprised the crew and what were their responsibilities?

In 1947 we had a crew of about five including myself, Bud Piper, Ernie Dossin, Bob Allinger and Danny Foster. In those days the driver was part of the crew. Bud Piper, who was an auto mechanic, was a life long friend of mine. There were five of us and we traveled around the country in 1947.

After 1947 1 didn't work on the boat, but Ernie did. Ernie was in charge of the crew - not so much as a mechanic - but as a manager. He kept track of the expenses and so forth when traveling and he also took care of the schedule.

When Chuck Thompson was with us, he was the crew chief. Whatever Chuck said had to be done on the engine, that's what we did. On the other hand Ernie would purchase supplies and whatever was needed for repairing the boat. He made the schedules up for repairing the boat and arranged for travel. Ernie also kept track of the financial expense records. So actually Chuck didn't have to do any of that. He just directed the maintenance of the engines and hull and did the driving.

If we made any changes on the boat we went to John Hacker or Les Staudacher. Any time we had problems with the bottom we would take it up to Kawkawlin, Michigan where the boat was built by Staudacher and have it repaired there. If we needed a fast job, Staudacher would bring a crew down to Detroit and do it here where we kept the boat.

How many engines did you build up for a year's racing and how many did you take to each race?

We never brought any extra engines to a race - just the two engines that were in the boat. If we blew an engine that was it because on our trailer that we hauled the boat with, there was no room for any extra engines. We had no van or anything like they use today to haul extra engines.

We would build up six engines for a season's racing. We had twenty engines in total. After a while we had to cannibalize some of the parts from the other engines because we couldn't buy parts. It got to the point where we had eight or nine engines that weren't complete since we were using them for parts.

We left our engines more or less stock. Texaco however used to make up a special fuel for us. I don't know how much octane it had or what the formula was. Jim Meehan, who was a rep from Texaco, took care of that. He would give us the fuel.

About how much money did it cost to campaign a boat over the circuit in the late 40's or early 50's?

I can't remember exactly. It was at least fifty thousand and there might have been a year or two when it was up around a hundred thousand, especially when

we went to Seattle. A lot of it went to crew expenses and repair work. Generally about four people went with the boat when we traveled. We paid about twenty thousand dollars for the last Pepsi.

Did you ever consider going to the Rolls-Merlin engine as opposed to the Allison?

No. We had only two Rolls-Merlins and we couldn't get any more. We felt we really didn't need them either. On the Rolls the conversion to power boating was quite a bit of work and you had to know what you were doing. I think those engines were designed for high altitude compared to the Allison. The Allison just seemed to work better before they found out about the Rolls and how to install them.

Did you ever consider building a three-pointer as opposed to a step boat?

No. Never.

After two years on the beach the Dossins were persuaded to come back for the 1955 Silver Cup. How did this come about?

Walter Dossin was deceased at that time and my father was in Florida for a month's vacation. Ernie Dossin, myself and Don Dossin, who was Walter Dossin's son, decided to bring the Pepsi back before my dad got back from Florida.

We called up Chuck Thompson and asked him if it was possible to get the boat prepared in time for the Silver Cup which was in Detroit. In fact, our intentions were to just race in Detroit. Chuck was for the idea and then we got a couple crew members together. They worked day and night on that boat getting it prepared. The engines were gone over. They were all redone - overhauled. But they didn't do anything about the interior of the boat - the tanks or anything. That was where we ran into a problem later on with gasoline leaks in the boat.

At the time my dad got back, we were still working on the boat. We had already spent a certain amount of money on it and he wasn't too upset about it. So he said, "All right, let's give it a shot". We went ahead and that's what we did.

Chuck was happy to get back with it. He wanted to come back even if he could just win the Gold Cup with it, which he hadn't done before. That's what Chuck had in mind. He had the Short Circuit, which was a short boat, and he didn't think he had much of a chance with it.

We had in mind just to race in Detroit and no other races - just for the fans. We used to get so many letters from fans in Detroit, who asked us to bring the boat back. They missed it and so forth. That was really the reason why we came back - to race in Detroit for the fans.

After battling with Tempo VII, the eventual winner, on even terms in the preliminary heats of the Silver Cup , the Pepsi apparently got wet down in the first turn of the final heat relegating her to fourth place. How did this happen?

I remember Chuck getting washed down. It conked out his engine. He couldn't get it started. Chuck was the kind of guy that didn't have a temper, never saw a temper on him. When he talked, he talked slow. He sounded like he came from the farm the way he talked. He was a very intelligent man. He had an electrical contracting business here in Detroit too - very successful. I didn't hear much comment from him about the incident you refer to. Chuck sort of felt that that was the way it goes.

After two years absence did the other boats seem faster in relation to the Pepsi?

Chuck didn't think so. He didn't think there was any improvement.

Miss Pepsi nearly won the President's Cup in 1955 for the fourth straight time, but lost due to her disqualification in the final heat. Could you give us the background on this incident?

Mel Crook, the referee, claimed that Pepsi beat the gun. Chuck said that he didn't. I didn't think he beat the gun. There were different opinions on it.

After the 1955 season did you contemplate retiring again or were you looking forward to the 1956 season?

We were looking forward to the 1956 season since the Gold Cup was coming back to Detroit and Chuck wanted to win it. That is all we planned to do — race for the Gold Cup and then put the boat back in moth balls again. The Gold Cup was the final race in Detroit that year.

Miss Pepsi ran well in the Gold Cup and was the winner for a short time when the Thriftway was disqualified. What is your side of this controversy, which is perhaps the biggest in the entire history of motorboat racing?

The 1956 Gold Cup was the race with Miss Thriftway. Bill Muncey was the driver of the Miss Thriftway. That was the race in which first Pepsi would be in front and then Muncey would be in the lead. They traded first and second places many times during that race.

The Miss Thriftway was a very fast boat, but Pepsi could catch him on the turns and pass him coming out of the turn and accelerate faster than Bill Muncey. As soon as Bill got some straightaway however, he would catch up with Pepsi. The whole race was like that. After the race was over they got three or four calls that Bill Muncey had run over a buoy - an orange buoy. We heard it because I was right there by the judges' stand when it happened. So they didn't award the Cup to Muncey.

I was also in the Burns Street Pits when they took the boats out. The first thing the Thriftway Crew did was to throw a tarp over the boat. There were a couple of guys there with cameras taking pictures, but they put that cover on pretty fast. I had just come up when they put the cover over. I heard someone say, "He ran over it all right - the evidence is right on the sponson". The bottom of the sponson on the side was all orange. In the meantime back at the judge's stand, Thriftway was disqualified and Pepsi was awarded first place. Afterwards we all were notified that they had withdrawn the Cup from the Dossins and nobody could have it until they had a meeting after the President's Cup in Washington.

So we went to Washington and raced in the President's Cup and the same thing happened in that race between Thriftway and Pepsi. It was a two-boat race - half a lap ahead of everybody. We had a meeting the day after the President's Cup at the Willard Hotel in Washington. I will tell you who was there. Horace Dodge was there and he had his attorney from Detroit to represent all the boat owners here. Jack Schafer was there also - there were about five or six boat owners from Detroit there. Willard Rhodes from Seattle was there. Chuck Thompson was there and I was there.

Mel Crook conducted the meeting. Willard Rhodes looked pretty happy over there so I was wondering what the heck had happened. The meeting hadn't even started. Our attorney brought in a slide projector and a witness who had taken a picture of the sponson of the Thriftway after it had been taken out of the water but before they got the tarp on it. It showed the guys getting ready to put the tarp on it in the picture. It showed clearly the orange streak on the sponson.

After the evidence was given, Mr. Rhodes got up and Bill Muncey got up and said that they definitely did not run over that buoy. They said the evidence presented could have been anything that was painted orange in the water that the boat could have run over.

They went into another room and discussed it. They came back with the decision and gave the Gold Cup to Willard Rhodes. They said the evidence was not strong enough for Pepsi to get the Cup. [Editors note: This was the recommendation of a hearing committee, which was approved by the Inboard Racing Commission a month later and confirmed by the meeting of the A.P.B.A. in November 1956 over two months after the conclusion of the race.]

In the final race for the Miss Pepsi in the 1956 President's Cup, comments were made that the Pepsi was not herself on the turns or that the usual smooth running Miss Pepsi was having trouble rounding the markers. Would you comment on this?

I can remember one of the spectators at that time when Chuck came in. He ran down there and said, "Chuck Thompson what did you do - throw the race". It looked like it since he was making those big wide turns.

Chuck was so damn mad when he came in. He got up and his feet were full of grease and oil and gas - all mixed up. Chuck was making real wide turns and we couldn't figure out why. But still he stayed right with the Thriftway. It wasn't until the end of the race that Chuck brought the boat in and the bilge was filled with gasoline. It was sloshing around in there when he was going around the turns. Ernie got on top of the boat and he was the one that yelled back to me that the boat was full of gasoline.

After this race the Pepsi retired. What was the reason for this second retirement?

The reason for our retirement was the disappointment over the Gold Cup and the way things turned out. My dad was definite after the decision in Washington, D.C. that we would never race again. He felt that if they made decisions that were so unfair he did not want to continue racing.

It was not that he thought we deserved the Cup - we didn't win it really because Bill Muncey had won it on the race course. The result would have been the same. But he felt that he just didn't like the sportsmanship of some of the owners.

Did you ever have any inclination to come back?

Staudacher came to see us one time. This was a couple of years later about 1958. He had the plans for what he was going to do. He wanted to build another Miss Pepsi, only it was going to be a certain percentage lighter. Staudacher planned to use aluminum-clad plywood in constructing this new hull.

My dad had no interest in it. We had retired.

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[Editors note: the last Miss Pepsi as mentioned before won nine races during her career including eight major victories along with two national high point championships. This marks her as probably the most significant boat to race out of Detroit, Michigan in the post war era. The fifth atlas van lines of the Schoenith family also won eight races, but had only one high point championship to her credit. Horace Dodge's My Sweetie also had two national high point championships to her credit, but only won seven major races during her career. Finally, George Simon's second Miss U.S. I is remembered for her 200 m.p.h. straightaway record, but was victorious in races on only four occasions during her time on the circuit.]

(Reprinted with permission from the January 1984 and March 1984 issues of the Unlimited NewsJournal)

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