Stanley Dollar

Famous Amateur Drivers: Stanley Dollar, Jr. [1935]

Famous Amateur Drivers: Stanley Dollar, Jr [1935]
The Stan Dollar Story
Stanley Dollar and His Passion for Speed [1999]

Cable dispatches from Paris have already told you by now how Stanley Dollar Jr., of Piedmont, Calif., fared in his single-handed attempt to carry the Stars and Stripes to victory over three-boat teams representing Great Britain, Italy and France in the first race for the Spreckels Trophy, newest and possibly most valuable of international speedboat prizes.

They have told you whether he won or lost, whether his interesting little boat was fast or slow, whether it broke down or hung together for the two hours of whirling around an eccentric course on a small lake in the Bois de Boulogne.

But they have told you very little, if anything, about Dollar himself. The Pacific Coast motor-boating enthusiasts know him or are familiar with his racing history. The East and Middle West know him merely as the young Californian who saved American motorboating the ignominy of not having a color bearer in the race sponsored by Jean Dupuy, the youthful Parisian newspaper publisher, and his American wife, the former Miss Dorothy Spreckels from Dollar's own native California. It is the purpose of these paragraphs to bring Dollar closer to those who have not had the pleasure of meeting him.

The writer uses "pleasure" in the best sense of the word. It is difficult to conceive of the United States having sent abroad a more typical specimen of upstanding young American manhood to the Paris race. Win or lose, finish or conk out, you may depend upon it that Stanley Dollar behaved like a sportsman and a gentleman and cast no shadows on the best traditions of American motor-boating.

He is a pleasant, well set up lad of twenty; a clean-cut, wholesome athletic type with an infectious smile and genuinely straightforward manner. In a general way he looks like thousands of other healthy Americans of his years and breeding; keen, intelligent and self-reliant. He was graduated from Hill School in Pottstown, Pa. in June and he played end on the football team there. He looks it, too. Tall, sturdily built without being bulky and with a suggestion of fleetness and recklessness about him.

You should have seen him on the President Harding the day he sailed from New York for France. His cabin and the adjoining corridors teemed with last-minute visitors, well-wishers, interviewers, photographers, and distinguished shipping men who had come to say bon voyage to him and his father, head of the famous Dollar Line of steamships. Unruffled, poised and smiling; pleasant to everyone, even if at some inconvenience to himself, he stood there until the, "All ashore who are going ashore," rang through the vessel and ended what to him must have been something of an ordeal. He doesn't look like the type that feasts on attention, or suns himself in the spotlight.

Perhaps that is why we have heard so much more about his racing contemporaries on the West Coast than we have of him for he has been driving all sorts of boats out there for going on eight years—ever since he was twelve. His family's summer home is on Lake Tahoe and there young Dollar has had ample opportunity to develop a love for boats by which he comes quite naturally. His grandfather, you know, is generally supposed to have been the Cappy Ricks of Peter B. Kyne's famous novels.

He has driven outboards and inboards, tinkered with them and got as grimy and oil-soaked as any grease monkey. SG when the details of the Spreckels Trophy race were announced last winter his interest was aroused. Roughly, the only limitation on boats eligible for this event is that they must not weigh more than 770 pounds. That was a challenge to the ingenuity of naval architects and engineers. They could turn out any shape of hull, any size within reason, drive it with either an inboard or outboard motor of any power—only the whole business must not weigh more than 770 pounds.

Dollar filed his entry, put up the necessary $300 to guarantee his appearance at the starting line and then set to work. He went into consultation with two noted Pacific Coast motorboat men, Ansel Holt and H. G. Ferguson, the chap who used to shatter world outboard driving records with his Blue Streaks. Among them they worked out the hull details. He turned to Harry Miller's shops for an engine that would be light, compact and powerful, likewise able to withstand the rigors of two hours of high speed service in broken, bumpy water. He came away with a 97 cubic inch piston displacement motor that developed 100 horsepower with the help of a super-charger.

The hull and engine finished and hooked up, Dollar christened the combination Uncle Sam and went out to see what it would do. He found out readily enough. It would not stay right side up. The hull was too narrow and did not have sufficient lift forward. So Dollar figuratively if not literally wrung out his wet driving clothes and went to work on a new hull.

The second one was an improvement, rode on its single step without undue crankiness and stepped along at a mile-a-minute clip in the few brief trials possible before it was shipped East and loaded, trailer and all, into the President Harding. All the way across, Dollar and his mechanic worked on the outfit, doing what they could to put it into racing tune for there would be no time for further experimentation after their arrival in France. There was less than 48 hours between their scheduled docking in LeHavre and the start of the Spreckels Trophy race in Paris, many miles away.

When Dollar left New York he said: "The Spreckels Trophy will be raced for next year in the country whose representative wins it at Paris. I hope we'll have the next race in California, but if not, I'll keep trying."

A new American speedboat racing ace is in the making.

Everett B. Morris

(Reprinted from Motor Boating, August 1935)

Hydroplane History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at
© Leslie Field, 2006