Slo-Mo-Shun V Invades The East
Stanley Sayres' Slo-mo-shun V made a September tour of the unlimited hydroplanes' racing circuit in the Middle West and East. She came home to Seattle with one of the nation's top speedboat trophies, the President's Cup. She found rough water, rough racing, and met with a couple of tough breaks which caused her to lose in the Silver Cup race at Detroit and the Imperial Gold Cup at New Martinsville, West Virginia.
This was Sayres' first invasion of the East since he took Slo-mo-shun IV to Detroit in 1950 to win the Gold Cup and the Harmsworth Trophy. The trip was undertaken partly to show that Seattle's interest in big- time boat racing is not confined to the Gold Cup.
The trip was financed by a Gold Cup Race Fund sponsored by the Greater Seattle organization and headed by Dr. R. Philip Smith, past commodore of the Seattle Yacht Club. About $23,300 was raised by voluntary contributions.
Equipped with a powerful Rolls Royce engine, Slo-mo V made her maiden trip to Detroit amid high hopes. An Allison engine for a spare was strapped on the trailer, and plenty of spare parts were taken along. Accompany members of the famous Slo-mo crew were Elmer Linenschmidt, Mike Welsch, Joe Schobert, Wesley Kiesling, and Martin Headman.
Some 200,000 persons crowded along the narrow course on the Detroit River to watch the Detroit boats defend the Silver Cup from the invader from the West. Slo-mo V, built for rough water and fast acceleration, was in prime condition. Arrayed against her were four Detroit boats which had been beaten the previous month at the Gold Cup race in Seattle -- Such Crust III and V, Gale II, and Miss Great Lakes II. Miss Supertest, an Ontario, Canada, Gold Cupper; the Wayne, a 25- year-old speedboat, and Gangway, a 225-class entry, were the others.
In the first heat, Slo-mo, with Lou Fageol driving, performed as expected and won easily, with Crust V, Gale II, Crust III, Wayne and Miss Supertest following in that order. Gangway went out on engine trouble and Miss Great Lakes dropped out with structural damage.
The second heat started with Danny Foster driving Gale II in lead position. Joe Taggart in Slo-mo-shun V, closely following, lost speed as the engine faltered and during the course of the heat couldn't coax out enough speed to overtake Foster. Bill Cantrell in Such Crust V, in a last-minute spurt, nosed out Slo-mo to take second position.
The third heat saw the beautiful start that put Slo-mo out of the race. Gale II, Slo-mo, and Such Crust V hit the starting line at the same time, with Slo-mo sandwiched in the middle. With Such Crust III on the inside, they all went into the first turn together, and Lou Fageol gave Slo-mo the gun. But the motor was still sluggish and Fageol couldn't get away.
Fageol, trapped between the two Crusts on the inside and Gale on the outside, was hosed down by two 40- foot roostertails as Lee Schoenith gunned Gale II and cut over while Bill Cantrell kept Crust V on a straight course. Slo-mo-shun V, its engine flooded with water, drifted to a stop to run no more that day.
Gale II took that heat, placed fourth in the fourth heat, and second in the fifth to win the Silver Cup. Such Crust III, the big unlimited with the twin Allison engines, placed second, with Wayne, Slo-mo, Such Crust V, Gangway, and Miss Supertest earning points in that order. Gale II and Such Crust III were the only Gold Cuppers to go the full distance.
Slo-mo's anticipated participation in the race at Red Bank, N.J., was cancelled as the crew labored to put Slo-mo into racing condition. The G6 Allison replaced the Rolls Royce. It was also found that the "angle of attack" on the riding surfaces of the sponsons was too great for the choppy river waters and caused the Seattle boat to make several astonishing leaps out of the water. So the sponsons were also altered.
The President's Cup trophy race is laid out on the Potomac River. There were nine starters for the first heat of five, three-mile laps on September 19. The water was choppy with lots of debris, but with the Allison running perfectly Lou Fageol took a second place after the first turn and chased Danny Foster in Miss Great Lakes II until Fageol took over the lead in the fourth lap to win the heat.
The second two heats were on the following day. This time Fageol took the lead on the first turn and held it over the remaining laps. He was never pressed.
In the third heat Slo-mo-shun V narrowly escaped being wrecked. Chuck Thompson in Such Crust III took the lead, and Fageol was in second place. On the first lap, as Thompson cut over, Fageol had to choose between hitting Such Crust III or a buoy. He struck the buoy, badly damaging the left sponson of Slo-mo, and in falling back into the cockpit Fageol suffered a cut and painful injury on his leg. He kept the Slo-mo in second place for the rest of the heat, which gave him enough points to win the race.
Final standings showed the unlimiteds finishing in this order: Slo-mo-shun V, Such Crust III, Such Crust V, Gale II, Wayne, Miss Great Lakes II, Miss United States, Tempo VI and My Sweetie. Slo-mo ran this race at an average speed of 90.708 mph, a new record for the President's Cup race.
My Sweetie is a new boat entered by Horace Dodge and driven by Walter Kade. Kade was thrown out of his boat during the second heat and was picked up and taken to a hospital for observation.
The President's Cup will join the Gold Cup and Harmsworth Trophy at the Seattle Yacht Club. The presentation was made to Lou Fageol by President Eisenhower at the White House September 22.
Slo-mo-shun V was repaired after its battering on the Potomac and was pronounced in perfect condition for the Imperial Gold Cup at New Martinsville, West Virginia, the following Sunday. Driven by Joe Taggart, Slo-mo roared over the starting line. There the cooling and oil systems failed and that was the end of Slo-mo V's racing for 1953. Bill Cantrell in Such Crust V, Mrs. Jack Schafer's boat, roared on to win the two 12-mile heats at an average speed of 89.048 mph. Gale II, driven by Lee Schoenith, placed second, and Wayne, driven by Frank Seale Jr., also of Detroit, placed third. They were the only finishers on the smooth course provided on the Ohio River.
Next year's unlimited racing should prove tougher than ever. Jack Schafer's Such Crust III went through the mile trials at New Martinsville following the race at a speed reported to be 151.08 mph. Such Crust V was clocked at more than 141 mph. Gale II, trying only one way, hit 139 mph. This proves that the Detroit boats are now operating at sufficient speeds to be competitive on a closed course with the Slo-mos.
Next year should find Stanley Sayres defending the Gold Cup again on Lake Washington. Since Lou Fageol announced his retirement from boat racing following the President's Trophy race, Joe Taggart may be driving Slo-mo V in the big races next year.
Thompson Should Be Suspended, Says Fageol
Chuck Thompson, driver of Jack Schafer's Such Crust III, has been charged with fouling Slo-mo-shun V in the third heat of the President's Cup. The charge was made by driver Lou Fageol in a letter filed with Gibson Bradfield, president of the American Power Boat Association, September 29.
Fageol requested that the Inboard Racing Commission of the APBA cite Thompson for committing an intentional or unintentional foul on Slo-mo-shun V during the race. He asked that Thompson be penalized by a suspension from racing for a reasonable period.
Fageol's dramatic letter gave details of events in the first lap of the third heat of the race on the Potomac when Slo-mo-shun V and Such Crust II narrowly escaped collision at the first buoy of the first turn.
Fageol testified that he crossed the starting line two boat lengths behind Thompson's Such Crust III and approximately in the exact center of the course. Thompson's boat was on the outside limit to the right.
"Immediately after crossing the starting line, I was able to overcome Thompson's two-boat lead and actually pulled Slo-mo-shun up to a point where I had achieved a half-boat lead by the time we had traveled approximately two-thirds of the distance between the starting line and the lead marker to the turn," Fageol wrote.
"...Once I had established my right to the first marker, I eased off the throttle and merely maintained my position as we continued to approach the marker for the turn. At this point on the course, I noticed Thompson suddenly turn Such Crust III directly for the lead-in marker to the turn, and naturally, in the interest of safety and guarding my position on the course, I kept a very close watch on Thompson as he continued to bring his boat on an approximate 20-degree tangent directly into the marker and into the path of my boat.
"...I had no alternative except to cut my throttle instantly and completely, which as everyone of experience knows creates an extremely dangerous situation with a boat which is travelling at 140 mph . . . the bow of Slo-mo-shun dropped and dug into the water, throwing me violently against the cowling and windshield of the boat.
"...I was then dashed with terrific momentum back down into the cockpit and struck the edge of the seat with such force as to shear the upholstering completely away from the metal frame of the seat, which, after coming through the upholstery, gashed my leg open with a 3-inch deep and 3-inch long wound.
"As witnesses who saw the accident, particularly Cantrell and Schoenith, will confirm, even after this rapid deceleration which is final proof that I had full right to the marker, I ended up by somehow scraping Slo-mo-shun's left pontoon on the marker as my right pontoon passed miraculously over Thompson's cockpit as he slid by with, as far as I know, full power applied to his boat, and without in any way altering his original course.
"...The plain facts are, as I see them, assuming the foul was not intentional, and I am willing to assume this, Mr. Thompson just did not make any attempt to look or see, and for this reason I consider, to assure future safety and proper respect and diligence on the part of each driver in future Gold Cup competition, that some penalty, possibly in the form of a suspension from racing for a reasonable period, should be imposed on Thompson for his unsportsmanlike or careless handling of his boat.
"Unless this be done," Fageol continued, "Mr. Thompson has gained by his action both public acclaim in winning a heat to which he was not entitled, as it was done by fouling another boat, and, second, had not the writer yielded his rightful position on the course, an irreparable damage to the future of Gold Cup racing would have been assured, to say nothing of the possible fatal aspects which were faced by Mr. Thompson and the writer," Fageol concluded.
(Reprinted from Sea and Pacific Motor Boat, Nov. 1953, pp.13, 56, 60-3)
Hydroplane History Home
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010.
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at email@example.com
© Leslie Field, 1999