1904 APBA Gold Cup [second running]
North River, New York City, NY, September 22-24, 1904


Two Men Rescued From a Blazing Boat
The Macaroni Catches Fire During Hudson River Race
In Danger of Explosion
Steersman and Engineer Were Balancing on Ends of Craft When Finally Picked Up

Races for Power Boats
Record for Auto Boat
New Speed Record by Automobile Boats
Auto Boats Race Against Heavy Sea
Two Men Rescued from a Blazing Boat
Boat Burns in Race
Vingt-et-Un II Wins Gold Challenge Cup
Autoboat Winner for Ormond Races
Macaroni Will Race Again

William Wallace, the young Boston automobilist who has taken part in many automobile track racing meets, was rescued yesterday from a burning automobile boat in the Hudson River opposite Dobbs Ferry. With him at the time was his engineer, Lewis Tempfer. The men were in imminent danger of being blown up by an explosion of the gasoline tanks, and evidently realized the fact for when they were rescued by a boat from a steam yacht going to the Ardsley Club Mr. Wallace was astride of the auto boat at the front end of the narrow bow, while the engineer was hanging on in the rear. Flames and black smoke were spouting out from the cockpit in the centre of the craft. The boat afterward burned to the water's edge.

The burning boat was the Macaroni, and it is the first fast auto boat to be completely destroyed by fire or other accident. Charles L. Seabury's Speedway had an explosion aboard in the Harlem River a few days ago when making a trial spin for the recent Challenge Cup races, and her prow was badly damaged, but she was quickly repaired and made an excellent showing in the races that finished yesterday for the trophy off the Columbia Yacht Club foot of West Eighty-sixth Street.

The Macaroni was a competitor in the races, and on the first day did so well that she got second place, finishing next to W. K. Vanderbilt Jr.'s Mercedes VI. The boat was managed then by C. R. Tangeman, who entered her from the Atlantic Yacht Club. In the second race the boat met with a slight accident to her machinery and did not finish. She was then steered by E. R, Hollander. Yesterday William Wallace took the boat out. It was practically his first appearance in a big auto boat race, although he is favorably known as a skillful driver of fast automobiles and has entered a ninety-horse-power machine for the coming Vanderbilt Cup race.

Of the ten boats that started in the race yesterday, the Macaroni was the sixth to get away under the handicap allowances. Everything went well until the boat was about two miles below the stake boat, where the first turn was made for the homeward journey. The stake boat was anchored just above the Ardsley Club, sixteen knots from the Columbia Yacht Club. When opposite Dobbs Ferry, the first signs of serious trouble were apparent. The boat broke her connecting pipe between the gasoline tank and the motor and before power could be shut off a volume of flame shot up from the bottom of the boat.

It all occurred so suddenly that nothing could be done to put out the fire and there was great danger that the tanks would explode. Mr. Wallace, who was steering the boat, at once made for the prow where he balanced himself as far out as possible, ready to jump into the river if the explosion came, while his engine took to the stern of the boat for temporary safety.

Only a few minutes before the fire broke out H. L. Bowden, whose racing automobiles have won several records in track meets, passed the Macaroni. Mr. Bowden was steering his fast boat, the Mercedes U.S.A. When about half a mile above the Macaroni one of his engineers, looking back, saw the flames and smoke issuing from the hull of the Macaroni and called out to Mr. Bowden that Wallace's boat was burning up. Mr. Bowden immediately turned his boat back and ran down off one side of the burning craft, but at that time a boat had put off from a steam yacht going up the river. Mr. Wallace called out to Mr. Bowden that he was all right and advised him to continue the race, and the yacht took the men ashore, leaving the blazing auto boat to furnish a brilliant spectacle for a time, as she burned fiercely near the middle of the river.

The Macaroni is a new boat. She was designed and built by C. S. Burgess in Boston and was only brought to this city a week ago, especially for the Challenge Cup race. She was equipped with an Italian Fiat motor, giving a horse-power of 40.38 by the official rating of the American Power Boat Association. In the first race she finished the short course of 27 miles in 1 hour 28 minutes 21 seconds.

(Transcribed from the New York Times, Sep. 25, 1904, p. 1 )

[So Wallace is standing on the blazing boat to jump off when the explosion happens . . . it seems as though the power of 20 or 30 gallons of exploding gasoline was unknown to even professional drivers at this time. Mr. Wallace wouldn't have had to worry about exerting any energy at all in order to get off the boat when and if the explosion came—it was an innocent age—GWC ]

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. —LF]


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Leslie Field, 2002