1933 Harmsworth Trophy, APBA Gold Cup & Dodge Memorial

America Retains Harmsworth Trophy
Miss America a Successful Defender Against Stiff British Competition
El Lagarto Wins Gold Cup
By William F. Cosby; Photographs by Rosenfeld

[1933 Harmsworth Trophy
St. Clair River, Algonac, Michigan, September 2-4, 1933]

bullet Motor Boating: Gar Wood's Challenger Sails
bullet America Retains Harmsworth Trophy
bullet The High Lights and the Low Downs of the Detroit Regatta
bullet Miss America X Still Supreme

Nothing is left to chance when it comes to preparing Miss America X for a British International Trophy Race and a visit to her boat house near Algonac, just before the great race, will impress anyone with the careful detail work done to make her just as perfect as human hands and the keenest of brains can make her.

Miss America lies in her "well," as they call a boat slip in the Middle West. A powerful electric hoist is arranged to lift or lower her in carefully upholstered slings. She lies just afloat as we arrive four hours before the first race. Across the end of her slip a heavy piece of timber is tied in such a way that driftwood and debris are kept clear of the glistening hull. She is painted black under the waterline with shining brown topsides. The name Miss America X and her racing number are beautifully lettered in gold leaf on either side. Her deck is natural white pine, laid in narrow strakes and surrounded by a mahogany covering board. Everything is polished to the last degree.

Projecting well out in back of the broad transom are the two powerful Federal Mogul propellers, set out in bronze struts so that they are at least eighteen inches aft of the transom itself. Above and in the center is a diminutive flag pole on which flies a small American yacht ensign. Then come the seats with Gar's on the starboard side and Orlin's on the port. A huge steering wheel arranged vertically is directly in front of Gar's heavily upholstered seat and the center of the wheel bears further upholstery in case the driver is thrown against it. All upholstery is in red leather. Orlin Johnson's seat is upholstered in the same way and has a partial bulkhead in front of it with further red leather upholstery so Orlin can lean forward and not have any bones broken. Here also are the instruments. The brightly polished throttles, the starter buttons, one for each bank of engines, the Reliance tachometers, and all gauges showing ell pressures, fuel, etc. Everything is within easy reach and the throttle valves are arranged in such a way that each bank of motors may be handled separately or collectively.

Directly in front of this comes the bank of carburetors, four to each engine, with the Schweitzer-Cummings superchargers directly below them. Then, next forward come the two Packard motors which drive forward into the gear boxes. These gear boxes are arranged in such a way that the forward engines also drive them, thus, the after and forward starboard engines drive through one set of gears to the starboard propeller and the port engines drive through their gear box to the port propeller. The gear boxes themselves are nearly in the center of the after plane and banked around them are the Exide storage batteries for starting and ignition.

Forward of these come the second pair of engines and ahead of these are the carburetors and fuel tanks. Almost the entire load of the engines, etc., is carried aft of the step.

Miss America X, while, a marvel of construction and mechanical perfection, is not a freak in any sense of the word. She is the utmost pinnacle of boat and engine construction and represents all the finest that America can offer. The mechanics you will see working on her complicated machinery are nearly all the "head men" of their respective trades. "Ted" Myers of Federal Mogul eats and sleeps Miss America's propellers during the time of the races. Inside the shed you will see neat rows of propellers, arranged in pairs. Some of these have been tried and found wanting, some have never been on Miss America. Others may be duplicate sets ready for making a replacement at a moment's notice.

Louis Schweitzer, the man who built her superchargers, will be found in a suit of Unionalls working with the rest of them. "Louie," as they all call him, eats and sleeps superchargers all the time, but when it comes to Miss America, he fairly lives on superchargers. There is not one single part of Miss America that he doesn't know.

Over near the great boat another white "Unionalled" individual is respectfully wiping off a big Exide battery. He wipes and wipes until there is not a drop of moisture on the outside. Then he tests with a hydrometer and with a voltmeter. He wipes some more and finally, when satisfied that the battery is as perfect as human hands can make it, he passes it over to a man inside the hull who fastens it down and makes the necessary connections.

From another building comes a man with a couple of new shiny gallon cans. This is Bill Harrigan of the Texas Oil Company, makers of Texaco oils with which Miss America X is kept going. Bill goes into consultation with Orlin Johnson and takes a sample of oil from the crank cases of the four motors. These will be analyzed. New oil is put in to take the place of that drained off.

On all sides are men from the various companies which go to make up the total of Miss America. Each one is interested in giving his very best to the cause and most of them are in working togs ready at a moment's notice to dig in and clear up any trouble. Under the general direction of Orlin Johnson, who knows every nut and bolt in this great boat, this man-machine functions as smoothly as glass. Men are there from Exide to see that their batteries are at the very peak of perfection. Instrument men are present to check tachometers, gauges, etc. The Champion spark plug man is on deck ready for any kind of an electric knot to be solved. Oil men, ready for any emergency and last, but not least, Gar Wood's own men who helped to build this marvelous machine.

Seated on a piece of timber, one man checks off, from voluminous notes, every item in Miss America. Starting at the stern, "the gang" works slowly forward until every single item has been checked off the list. Miss America X is ready. Then Orlin and Vance Smith put on their life jackets and goggles and Miss America is lowered away until fully afloat. The timber is removed from the entrance to the slip and she is pushed carefully out into the stream where a considerable gathering of spectators is awaiting a glimpse of this famous boat. Slowly she is backed around until the bow is clear of the pier and then Orlin starts up the starboard bank of motors. A deep roar answers with belching black smoke and some flame, Miss America starts moving ahead. She has no clutch or reverse gear. A few feet further the other bank of motors comes into play and the great boat almost immediately gets down to business.

Unlike most hydroplanes, Miss America's bow never rises high in the air. It comes up a foot off the surface and stays there and as soon as the throttles are opened a little, she levels off immediately and starts going places. She disappears down the river. A few minutes later we, on the dock, hear a deep toned roar with the sound of escaping high pressure steam on top of it. Miss America X comes into sight. She is leveled off beautifully and going fast. There is not a sign of smoke now, her exhausts are clear and free. She disappears off down the river toward the Chris-Craft plant where the British challenger is housed. In a few seconds she is back again, is quickly slowed down and when about a hundred feet off the dock, the ignition is cut and so exactly has Orlin gauged the distance, that she coasts up against the dock without the slightest sign of a bump.

Orlin waves his hands and says that she is perfect. She is brought back to the boat well and hoisted just clear of the water. Despite the fact that she is pronounced perfect, the assembled "crew" goes back at it again for a final check.

Satisfied at last that Miss America is beyond reproach, many of the crew leave for the starting line to witness the great event. Already Gar has been to the starters' stand where he has set his rubber cushioned chronometer exactly with the official time. Through practice, Gar and Orlin know that it will take just nine minutes to come from Miss America's boat well to the starting line running at a predetermined number of revolutions. One half hour before the starting time, the driver and master mechanic get into their life jackets. They do this in a leisurely manner adjusting straps, helmets and goggles. Then they take their respective seats and relax, getting themselves accustomed to the excitement attendant to a race in a boat of this speed. Gar himself calls it the "relax period." Once in a while he'll ask Orlin how much time is left, but as a rule they just sit there and relax their taut nerves or talk in low tones. No more work is done on the boat.

Finally, Orlin will say, "nine minutes." The bow will be pushed off and the starboard motor started. The other great machine will then break into tumultuous sound and Miss America X will level off for the starting line about eight miles away. She rides easily but rapidly, just fast enough to prevent the engines from "fouling up." The little group left on shore watch her out of sight in silence and then make for the nearest radio receiving set.

If you could be transported against the traffic jam to the starting line in the few minutes necessary, you would now see that the five minute warning gun has been fired. The five discs denoting the remaining minutes are dropped one at a time. As the next to last one goes down the giant "clock" starts, ticking off the last sixty seconds. Far down the course, toward Algonac, you see a little white spot of foam approaching. Soon you hear the roar of Miss America's motors, growing louder and louder as the glistening hull approaches. The clock reads thirty seconds to go. The challenger is back there on the other side of the course circling slowly, but Gar is coming full tilt for the line. The clock approaches fifteen seconds. The spectators are all standing, cheering, half hysterical with the excitement of this great racing machine and her diminutive but noisy rival Both are running almost even but the British boat is just a little ahead. The clock shows five seconds to go — if you can unfasten your eyes from the drama before you. Both boats are doing well over 100 miles an hour. The clock reaches sixty, the gun booms and the white flag falls. The British boat, slightly in the lead crosses the line. Before she has gone 100 yards, the hurtling Miss America takes the lead, never to be headed again.

In the stands a few figures clad in white Unionalls look at each other and smile. Another race for the famous British International Trophy is about to be won.

* * *

Hubert Scott-Paine, the British challenger, and his Miss Britain III has prepared in just as painstaking a manner as has Gar Wood. The genial British sportsman has come to America well equipped with plenty of "talent" to assist him over the bumps. His boat is housed at the Chris-Craft plant; not far from Miss America's berth. There are duplicate parts for Miss Britain — everything necessary for the replacement of any minor part or even a complete engine. In fact between the first and second races, "Scottie" changed the entire engine of his little metal craft.

The entire crew of Miss Britain was adopted by Mrs. Elizabeth Perry of Algonac and "Ma" Perry, as she is called, delighted in treating the boys to the finest of everything. Charlie Coe, tending toward stoutness, was one of them. Reg Holley was another and James Rousell, Steve Biggs and Norman Jeans made up the "ship's complement." Gordon Thomas rode with Scott-Paine during the races. He is quiet, good humored and took his job very seriously — and why wouldn't he?

Like Gar, Scottie made his trips to the judge's stand to get the official time and set his chronometer. As soon as he hove in sight in his special Chris-Craft, adorned with the British flag and his name, there was a grand rush on the part of every photographer to get near him.

With some difficulty he lands at the float, dressed simply in an old cotton shirt, dirty grey flannel trousers held up by rope suspenders, not too clean sneakers and a farmer's wide brimmed straw hat. In taking off his hat for the camera men, he displays a thick thatch of curly red hair.

Finally he pushes through the mob and stands outside the little shack where "Odie" Porter has rigged up his electric timer. Porter counts off the seconds to him and eventually Scottie's clock is set in perfect synchronism with the official time.

Once again the mob of photographers descends on him, but this time their numbers are augmented by autograph hunters. Scottie has a tough few minutes of it but eventually breaks away and with his genial smile departs down the river to his beloved boat

Miss Britain III is ready for her race.

* * *

For several days before the race, Detroit papers were full of the preparations for terrific traffic jams anticipated on the way to Algonac. Thousands of cars were expected to make the forty-five mile run from Detroit to the scene of the races.

The chief result of all this publicity was to thin the ranks of the spectators from 500,000 of last year to a paltry 50,000 this year. However, things were bad enough both ashore and afloat—particularly the latter. On the day before the first race, boats began leaving Detroit for the course. All night the fleet continued to forge up the Detroit River and across Lake St. Clair. By the time the first race was due to start, the course was lined with runabouts, outboards, motor boats, Diesel yachts, ferry boats and excursion steamers. Being in the main channel for lake freighters, a dozen or so of these big, unwieldy craft were forced to anchor at each end of the course.

The net result of all this may well be imagined after the race when every boat started to move at almost the same time. One minute the St. Clair River was dead calm and the next it was a milling mad house of boats coming from all directions and all wide open.

On shore, perfect arrangements had been made to handle traffic. Country roads were turned into one way streets to handle things and little difficulty was experienced. On the day of the first race traffic was not as bad as at any of the larger football games in the fall and on the second day the traffic was even lighter. Natives had erected grandstands throughout the length of the course with charges of up to a dollar a head. Most of these stands were practically empty. On the second day prices had been dropped to ten cents but the stands still were empty.

As for the races themselves, the first one was held on Saturday, September 2. The start was scheduled at three p.m. but rough water held things up until four, then five and it was finally six o'clock before the start actually took place. Rumors flew thick and fast through the crowds and at one time it looked as though the entire race was to be called off. Local officials of the race, including Lee Barrett, Otto Barthels and Harry Greening, finally decided on six o'clock and at five minutes of six, the first gun was fired.

Both boats hit the line almost at the starting gun, five minutes later, with Miss America's bow about six feet ahead of Miss Britain's. Gar immediately jumped into the lead and at the first turn, two nautical miles away, he was several hundred yards ahead. The little Miss Britain, by far the noisier of the two boats, kept doggedly on, though, and at the end of the first lap Miss America was almost fifty seconds in the lead. She averaged for the lap better than 88 miles an hour while Scott-Paine only averaged a little over 66 miles an hour.

The laps were made as listed below:


Miss Britain III

Miss America X

Time for lap 1



Speed for lap 1



Time for lap 2



Speed for lap 2



Time for lap 3



Speed for Iap 3



Time for lap 4



Speed for lap 4



Time for Iap 5



Speed for lap 5



Elapsed time for race (25 nautical miles) Miss Britain III, 30:49.5.
Speed (statute miles an hour), average: 78.449.

Elapsed time for race for Miss America X, 29:18.72. Speed in statute miles, 82.489.

According to the experts, Miss Britain did not seem to be warmed up sufficiently at the start and her engine sounded badly right up to the last lap when it improved considerably as is evidenced by the somewhat higher speed. Miss America X was apparently slowed up a little on every lap. At one time she was nearly half a lap ahead of the British boat, but Gar slowed her while the British boat picked up speed. At no time was Miss America extended having from 300 to 400 revolutions on tap for an emergency. As for the race itself, outside of the start, there were mighty few thrills in it for the spectators. Scottie ran a game race and hung on and when it was over ran wide open through the moving boats; back to Algonac.

The second race was held on Labor Day with a thinned out crowd ashore and afloat. This race was also postponed for half an hour but finally, at 3:25 p.m. the five minute gun went off. In this event, Miss Britain was over the starting line by a big margin, but Miss America went by her shortly afterwards as if the British boat had been anchored.

Scott-Paine had a new engine in for this race and his boat performed much better. All of his speeds, except for the first lap, were faster than the first race, but Miss America, never extended, ran at about the same speed, averaging about 4 miles an hour better than the first event.

The lap times and speeds for the second race follow:


Miss Britain III

Miss America X

Time for lap 1



Speed for lap 1



Time for lap 2



Speed for lap 2



Time for lap 3



Speed for lap 3



Time for Iap 4



Speed for lap 4



Time for lap 5



Speed for lap 5



Elapsed time for Miss Britain III, 28:1125. Speed, 85.789 statute miles.

Elapsed time for Miss America X, 27:48.92. Speed, 86.937 statute miles.

Both boats were considerably faster. Gar eased off a little in the second lap but Miss Britain crept up on him. As a result Miss America was opened up a little on the third lap and Scott-Paine did likewise. His slower speed was due to the fact that he gave the crowds a real thrill by coming within a hair of capsizing on the back stretch. On the fourth lap, the British boat again gained on the American entry, but Gar held him off to the finish.

The British boat was ahead only once during the entire series, at the start of the second race, but she held this for only a scant few seconds. The rest of the time Miss America set the pace, keeping going just fast enough to tantalize the British driver.

After it was all over. both Gar and Scottie came to the judges' stand where congratulations were extended on both sides. The cameramen held field day while harassed radio announcers tried to get either or both heroes to speak a few words to the waiting public. Scott-Paine impressed everyone with his smiling good humor and his good sportsmanship. From the very start, Scott-Paine admitted defeat, but he hung on, hoping to push Gar and Miss America a little too far and possibly winning by default. He did this without reckoning on his competitor, though, for no boat was ever prepared like Miss America. His promise at the end of the race of a bigger and better Miss Britain, met with instant applause and the general opinion seems to be that if the British International Trophy is to be won at all by a Britisher, most of us would prefer to see Hubert Scott-Paine and Miss Britain IV or V do the winning.

* * *

[1933 APBA Gold Cup
Detroit River, Detroit, Michigan, September 1, 1933]

bullet Gold Cup Goes to Lake George
bullet The High Lights and the Low Downs of the Detroit Regatta
bullet El Lagarto Wins Gold Cup
bullet Gold Cup Goes Back East

The running of the Gold Cup races on September 1 brought out nine entries, most of which were owned by Horace Dodge. The first heat was run on the old course off the Detroit Yacht Club and of the nine boats three of them quickly went out of commission. Miss Philadelphia was withdrawn before she ever started, Hotsy Totsy had a failure in her lubrication system and Imp broke a connecting rod. This left El Lagarto, owned and driven by George Reis of Lake George, New York, against the Dodge fleet.

The race comprised three heats of thirty statute miles each around a "squash shaped" course. Smooth water and a beautiful day helped matters along and as usual the banks of the Detroit River were well filled with spectators.

The real race developed almost at the start between El Lagarto and Bill Horn driving Delphine IV, both boats making better than 60 miles an hour for the entire race. Delphine VI gave a splendid showing for four laps but went hay-wire on the fifth, throwing a few connecting rods through her crank case in a playful manner. In the second lap Delphine VII, driven by Delphine Dodge Baker, missed one of the turning buoys at the upper end of the course and had to be disqualified after running a beautiful race. Horace Dodge, himself, driving another. Delphine — the ninth — was so slow that he could not finish the race within the time limit and consequently was also ruled out. His boat, a brand new importation from England, certainly gave a sorry exhibition of speed, her very best lap being at 57.5 miles an hour and her worst one at only 23.3 miles an hour. Hardly a worthy competitor for such a boat as El Lagarto.

The final results of the first race showed El Lagarto in first place with an average speed of 60.866 miles an hour. Bill Horn was second with a speed only slightly less—60.495 miles an hour. No other boats officially finished in this heat and as usual the temperamental Gold Cup class suffered heavy casualties.

In the second heat, started an hour later, only four boats lined up for the start and the much touted Delphine IX, driven by Bennett Hill, went out of the picture in her fourth lap with a failure in her lubrication system.

In this heat El Lagarto, the popular Lake George entry, cleaned up quite easily and at the same time established a new lap record of 62.355 miles an hour in the fourth lap. Her average for the heat was 60.315 miles an hour while Bill Horn's average was 60.131 miles an hour. Delphine Dodge Baker, driving Delphine VII, made a splendid job of handling her new Crouch-designed craft, but could not compete with El Lagarto. Her average speed for the 30 miles was 59.390 miles an hour. Incidentally, this brand new boat is exceedingly interesting in many ways. Mrs. Baker again and again took her hands off the wheel and held them high above her head to show what perfect control the boat was under. The boat itself planed much more smoothly than either the winning boat, which is inclined to lope along, or the "Leaping Lena" piloted by Bill Horn. This latter boat. Delphine IV, established a reputation both last year and this. Her bow rises up and then suddenly drops. When the bow drops the stem rises and most of the time practically the entire boat is out of water. She "porpoises" her way about the course in this manner and nearly breaks the necks of both driver and mechanic, but Bill Horn claims that every time she leaps that way she covers at least sixty feet of clear water and her speed is increased in direct proportion to the leaps !

The third and final heat of the Gold Cup showed that, according to the point system, all El Lagarto had to do was finish second to be the winner on points. Consequently George Reis, always a heady driver, held his baby in check and let Bill Horn coast to victory. Four boats started in this heat but DeIphine IX, driven by Horace Dodge, started to throw connecting rods about the landscape and so she was withdrawn in the third lap. At the conclusion, Delphine IV, driven by "Smiling Bill" Horn, was first, with an average speed of 60.798 (including the leaps), and George Reis in Lagarto was second at a speed of 53.831 miles an hour. Mrs. Baker came in third, just behind George Reis. The famous trophy therefore becomes the property of the winner for the coming year and it is expected that he will name Lake George for next season's Gold Cup race.

* * *

[1933 Dodge Memorial Trophy
Detroit River, Detroit, Michigan, September 3, 1933]

bullet 1933 Dodge Memorial Trophy (1)
bullet 1933 Dodge Memorial Trophy (2)
bullet The High Lights and the Low Downs of the Detroit Regatta

On Sunday, the 3rd, a number of races were held off the Detroit Yacht Club, including the Dodge Memorial Trophy. Only three boats started in each of the three 25 statute mile heats. Delphine VII; driven by Horace Dodge, won each of the three heats from Bill Horn, who drove his "Leaping Lena," Delphine IV. Vic Kliesrath, driving his ancient but rejuvenated Hotsy Totsy, managed to finish a poor third in the first and second heats but failed to start in the third heat. El Lagarto was not started in this event, her owner preferring to take no chances on the race for the President's Cup at Washington.

Eight little utility boats which acted as tenders for the Dodge Gold Cup fleet made the best race of the lot. They made a ten-mile event of it and, being all exactly alike, the race was hotly contested. Don Utz and L. H. Thompson, Jr., made a red hot race of it and tied for first place. At one time Thompson got far ahead and at another time these two boats came around the upper turn locked together and fighting every inch for supremacy. Finally Thompson drew a length or so ahead, but Utz found a little more pep somewhere and at the finish his boat's bow was exactly even with the other. This race was really the most interesting of the entire regatta.

(Reprinted from The Rudder, October 1933, pp.5-8, 39-41)

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