Chapter 3 - The Evolution Revolution
On the west coast, in a city called Seattle, a man named Ted Jones came up with a very radical design for a speedboat based on a principle that was unheard of in powerboat circles. In 1948, Stanley S. Sayres, a Chrysler dealer who had been racing boats for many years, commissioned a shipwright, Anchor Jensen, to make this new idea a reality. The concept was worked over in every detail; experienced boatbuilders were dumbfounded by her radical means - some swore it was an airplane rather than a boat.
She was finished and launched early on an October morning in 1949, they christened her Slo-Mo-Shun IV then Ted Jones and Stan Sayres flipped a coin to see which would be the first to drive her ...Jones won. Off he went wandering about Lake Washington and waking those who lived along the shoreline, a crowd of spectators gathered in their nightshirts and wondered what that thing was. The word quickly spread that a monster had been created. On June 26, 1950, the Slo-Mo entered the record books. Ted Jones sat behind the wheel with Stan Sayres at his side and together they pushed the boat to 160.3225 m.p.h. in the measured mile. In boating circles throughout the nation she had suddenly made a large impression.
The crew gathered their equipment together and headed for Detroit to seek fame, fortune and the Gold Cup. She arrived under much curiosity and skepticism from the established clan together on the banks of the Detroit River. "That boat might be fast", they reassured each other, "but she'll never be any good in the turns." The defending champion My Sweetie and an up-and-coming contender called Miss Pepsi were the favorites of the Detroit fans and on the first day of qualifying they were pleased to see the two reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour in the straightaway.
Ted Jones climbed into the cockpit of Slo-Mo-Shun IV on the second day for a little "spin". As he drove her into the straightaway he decided to show the spectators just what she was capable of. He stepped on it and hit 150...160...170 m.p.h.! Those previously confident fans couldn't believe what they saw. And that spray of water behind her ...that roostertail...nothing like that had ever been made before!
Slo-Mo took the race with ease having lapped second place Miss Pepsi once and everyone else twice. When it was over, Sayres agreed to let the other camps take a closer look at her. They clambered over the top of the boat and each other with their tape measures and rulers. As Ted Jones remembers, "They took dimensions of the bottom. If they had asked me I would have told them that the angle and shape of the deck are more important than the bottom."
A new breed of Unlimited Hydroplane had been created and with it a new era of racing had begun. The basic design that Slo-Mo introduced would become a standard for all hydroplanes in the future ...the 3-point suspension.
(Reprinted from Roostertails Unlimited by Andy Muntz, 1973)
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