1934 APBA Gold Cup
Lake George, New York, August 4-5, 1934

El Lagarto Keeps the Cup
Veteran Lake George flier proves too fast and consistent for the rejuvenated cripples of the Gold Cup fleet
By John G. Robinson

bullet Gold Cup Class Revisited : 1934
bullet George Reis Runs Away With The Gold Cup
bullet Gold Cup Stays at Lake George
bullet El Lagarto Wins Gold Cup on Lake George
bullet El Lagarto Again Wins Gold Cup
bullet El Lagarto Keeps the Cup

Leaping along over the home waters of Lake George, with the same speed and consistency which characterized her performance in winning the Gold Cup at Detroit last year, George Reis' El Lagarto once more demonstrated that she is the reigning queen of the Gold Cup fleet.

The story of the three heats in this year's race is very similar to that of the 1933 contest with El Lagarto winning the first two heats and then loafing to third place in the final heat to acquire enough points to win the trophy on total points.

The setting of this year's contest, however, was vastly different. At Detroit in 1933 there were tremendous crowds almost totally surrounding the entire course while at Lake George there may have been as many as 5000 people who saw the race from a distance.

There were six entries in all, El Lagarto, the defending champion, unchanged from last year with the exception of a new streamlined hood aft of the steersman's cockpit; Delphine IV, Horace Dodge's fast craft which won the trophy in 1932 and gave El Lagarto such a battle in 1933; Hornet, ex Delphine VI, entered by Aaron De Roy of Detroit; Imp, winner of the Gold Cup in 1929 and now owned and driven by Jack Rutherfurd; Scotty Too, owned by Sam Dunsford, which competed in 1931 and Ethyl-Ruth, owned by John Shibe of Philadelphia, the only new boat in the race.

Ethyl-Ruth was missing when the five-minute gun signalled the approaching start but the other five were milling around and warming up their engines. The minute gun found them all well back of the line and circling slowly. Just before starting time they were headed for the line and gunfire found them all running wide open and not far back of the starting line. Bill Horn took the galloping Delphine IV across first but George Reis with El Lagarto was within a few feet of his stern with Imp following closely and Hornet and Scotty not far behind. With a burst of speed El Lagarto rushed past Delphine and took the first turn with a clear lead. Hornet came around in second place with Delphine third and Imp and Scotty trailing. This just about tells the story of the first heat for El Lagarto wasn't challenged once and as soon as she had opened up a safe lead of about a quarter of a mile seemed to be content to hold it. Ethyl-Ruth made a belated start, when the other boats were well around their first lap. She is an exceptionally beautiful craft, probably the finest looking boat in the Gold Cup class. She planes beautifully and runs smoothly with but little fuss. Designed by John L. Hacker, N. A. and built by the Hacker Boat Co., Mount Clemens, Mich., she is powered with a 16-cylinder Miller engine and seems to have as much speed as any of the other boats but she didn't have a chance to show it as she only lasted two laps and retired with mechanical difficulties which finished her.

El Lagarto, Hornet and Delphine IV finished the race well spaced out and all three performing faultlessly. Further back Imp and Scotty Too were staging a nice little race of their own, with Imp always in the lead.

El Lagarto made the 30 miles in 31:06.8 averaging 57.88 miles per hour for the course. Her fastest lap was run at an even 60 miles per hour. Hornetís time was 31:33.4 or 57.05 miles per hour and Delphine galloped around in 31:57.8.

All the thrills of the race were packed into the second heat. The five starters were closely bunched; all wide open and only a few feet from the line when the starting gun was fired. It was a wonderful start. Benny Hill, at the wheel of Hornet, had his start perfectly timed and was over the line a split second after gunfire to take an early lead. George Reis, fearing a premature start, had slowed down when nearing the starting line and El Lagarto was last across. On the far side of the course Hornet had a lead of two hundred yards over El Lagarto, With Delphine IV a good third and Imp and Scotty Too trailing. Hornet flashed around the course at 61.898 miles per hour for the first lap, one of the fastest laps ever recorded for a boat of this class. El Lagarto moved slightly closer in the second lap but Hornet was going beautifully and seemed in command of the situation. The same mad speed continued in the third lap but El Lagarto has moved up close in the leader's wake and the spectators were on their feet and cheering madly as the two craft swept into the fourth lap. At the lower turn Hornet was still leading but Reis took El Lagarto into a beautifully timed turn that swept her clear of Hornetís wake and out into unbroken water. Slowly the dark mahogany hull crept up to the bright blue Hornet then swept past in a burst of speed that carried on till there was good open water between the two fliers. Hornet was faltering and before the finish of the lap was fully two hundred yards behind the leader. On the fifth lap she slowed again and Delphine IV came galloping past. The race was over. Slowing down somewhat from the fast pace of the first few laps Reis took it easy for the balance of the heat and allowed Delphine IV to gradually cut down his lead until at the finish there were only a few seconds between them. Hornet came into the judge's stand at the end of the fifth lap and reported overheating due to trouble with their fuel.

El Lagarto finished the 30-mile heat in 31:00.4 an average of 58.06 miles per hour. Delphine IV's time was 31:07.4 or 57.84 miles per hour. Imp finished just a minute later. Scotty Too dropped out in the last lap with a burned out bearing.

The final heat found four boats ready to start. Delphine IV and Imp were away with the gun, followed by Hornet and El Lagarto. With 800 points to his credit George Reis merely had to finish fourth in order to obtain enough points to make sure of the trophy. Right from the start it was evident that he had no intention of taking chances. Delphine IV held the lead for two laps then Hornet took command and led until the fifth lap when once more she faltered and was passed by Delphine IV which continued on at a steady pace to lap El Lagarto and win the heat. Hornet came limping into the judge's stand and reported ignition and carburetion trouble. Imp, driven by her owner Jack Rutherfurd, also lapped El Lagarto to take second place in the heat. It didn't make a race but it was excellent racing strategy on the part of George Reis not to take chances but to play safe, so continuing around the course at a safe and sane pace of about 50 miles per hour he rode on to victory and the Gold Cup honors for 1934.

Outside of a streamlined hood, aft of the cockpit, El Lagarto is the same old campaigner which won the Gold Cup in 1933. The engine, it is true, has had considerable work done on it; just the same as all racing engines, but it gave a great performance in the race and after all that is what counts. It is a Packard Gold Cup type six-cylinder and is said to one of the original racing engines turned out by the Packard Motor Co., about 1922. Very few parts of the original motor, however, survive. On the other hand the hull, designed by John L. Hacker, N. A. and built by the Hacker Boat Co., Mount Clemens, Mich., in 1923, hasn't had a single plank replaced, although the bottom has had shingles added to make it into a hydroplane instead of a displacement racer, as originally planned. The way this wonder boat has lasted through the years is a remarkable tribute to her builder and also to the genius of George Reis and his pal-mechanic Dick Bowers.

In this year's triumph a three-blade Federal-Mogul racing wheel of 17 inches diameter and 27ľ-inch pitch was used. We understand that the Packard engine will turn this up to approximately 3000 revolutions per minute. Texaco fuel, Texaco marine motor oil "K" and Champion spark plugs were used.

Hornet, which furnished practically the only thrill of the race, is also a rejuvenated veteran of Gold Cup racing. She was designed by George F. Crouch and built by the Horace E. Dodge Boat Works for the Gold Cup race of 1925. Originally known as Impshi her name was changed to Delphine VI, under which name she competed in the Gold Cup race of 1933. She is powered with a 16-cylinder Miller engine and turns a three-blade 16 inch diameter 22-inch pitch Federal-Mogul racing wheel at approximately 4300 revolutions per minute. Hornet is now owned by Aaron De Roy of Detroit and competed under the colors of the Detroit Yacht club. Without doubt this boat was the fastest and sweetest running boat of the fleet but lacked the stamina necessary for the three 30-mile heats.

Delphine IV, which finished second, is the same old boat which finished second last year and won in 1932. She is owned by Horace E. Dodge but was entered and driven by Bill Horn.

Like the winner Delphine IV is powered with a six-cylinder Packard Gold Cup type motor, but uses a Michigan machined-pitch propeller. Imp, third to finish is owned by Jack Rutherfurd. She was built by Purdy and is powered with an eight-cylinder Wright engine. Some changes had been made to the bottom which may have improved her speed, but she seemed rather difficult to steer and any less skillful pilot than Jack Rutherfurd might have encountered serious trouble in close quarters.

The outboard races were extremely disappointing. Many of the crack eastern drivers were at Lake George but large lakes are not suited to outboard racing and the rather choppy waters proved to great a handicap for the little flyers. Added to this the course was too far out in the lake to allow the spectators to fully appreciate the thrills and spills of outboard racing.

Gar Wood Jr., looked like a winner in the first lap of the class A amateur event but Clinton Ferguson, national champion of the class, had too much speed for the speed king's son and won both heats in impressive style. Ferguson and Wood finished first and second, respectively in both heats. Lewis Carlisle, East Islip, N. Y., was third in the first heat and Robert B. Lowe, Holyoke, Mass., was third in the second heat. The winner's best time was made in the first heat when he averaged 35.184 miles per hour.

Bob Meyer, Chicago, national champion in class A division II, won both heats in his class. Ted Roberts of New York was second in the first heat and third in the second heat while Warren Lucas, Jersey City, N. J., was third in the first heat and second in the second heat, making a tie for second place on points. On best elapsed time for the two heats the place position was awarded to Roberts. Meyer's best time was 34.789 miles per hour, made in the second heat.

Sam Crooks, well-known intercollegiate driver looked like a winner in the class C amateur division and led for two laps only to have his engine stop on the third lap. Lewis Carlisle, driving Joel Thorne's boat, was the winner, with Lew Franco, New York, second and Chart Johnson, Cranberry Lake, N. J., third. The winner's time was 44.226 miles per hour.

Franco set a hot pace in the second heat and won easily with Johnson second and Carlisle third. On total points for the two heats Franco was the winner with Carlisle second and Johnson third. Franco drove a Jacoby hull with a Johnson engine and averaged 46.272 miles per hour in the second heat.

The start of the first heat in class C division II was especially good with all the boats well bunched. Jack Rods, Rouses Point, N. Y., drew away from the field and set a tremendous pace. He must have been hitting close to 50 miles per hour. On the second lap, with the race well in hand, he spilled and Bob Heape, Pittsburgh, who was in second place, went on to win, with Herman Stewart, Ridgewood, N. J., second and Fred Jacoby, third.

The second heat went to Fred Jacoby with Cab Walier, Syracuse, N. Y., second and Herman Stewart, third. On total points Jacoby was the class winner with Heape, second and Stewart, third.

The Second Day

The feature of the second day was the running of the free-for-all event for the Governor Lehman Trophy. Five boats started in the first heat. It wasn't a race, however, but merely an exhibition by Betty V, Melvin Crook's new hydroplane, which outclassed the field. Betty V is approximately 28 feet long with 7 feet beam and was designed and built by W. A. Buskee of Dover, N. J. The power plant is a 12-cylinder Packard of the 1500 series which delivers about 650 horsepower and uses a Federal-Mogul propeller. While Betty V only showed flashes of her speed she gave every indication of being an exceptionally fast craft and will probably do at least 70 miles per hour. She is a very beautiful craft and runs at speed with very little angle and no apparent galloping.

Bill Horn took' Delphine IV around after Betty V in the first heat but was unable to extend that craft so did not start in the second or third heats. George Reis and his mechanic pal, Dick Bowers, drove the Dodge 28-foot runabount Chief II, taking third in the first heat and second place in the second and third heats. Miss Marilyn, owned by Alex McPhee, Old Forge, N. Y., and Well Dunn, owned by Jack Dunn, both Chris-Craft, ran steadily and well but were unable to match the other higher-powered craft. Betty V averaged 53.41 miles per hour in the first heat.

The water conditions were rather severe for the outboards and after several postponements the Class B amateur and professional events were cut down to one heat each. Sam Crooks, Rumson, N. J., won the class B amateur, averaging 38.709 miles per hour. Robert Brown, Saranac Lake, N. Y., was second and Paul B. Sawyer Jr., Pocono Lake, Pa., third. The winner's time was 38.70 miles per hour. In the professional division of class B, Cab Walier, Syracuse, N. Y., won a bard-fought race from Bob Meyer of Chicago with Fred Jacoby, North Bergen, N. J., third. Walier averaged 40.678 miles per hour with his Wagner hull and Johnson engine, a really remarkable performance in the rough water of the open lake.

The class F outboard was an open event, the last on the program. With slightly better water conditions it was possible to run this in the two heats originally scheduled. Walter Meloon, Pine Castle, Fla., finished first in both heats, his best time being in the second heat when he averaged 43.902 miles per hour. Jack Plunkitt of Brooklyn, N. Y., was second in the first heat with Robert Grabau, Kenmore, N. Y., third and Chart Johnson, fourth. In the second heat Johnson was second with Alex Deemer, Saranac Lake, N. Y., third and Plunkitt fourth. On total point Meloon was first with Johnson and Plunkitt tied for second. Johnson took the place on best elapsed time.

Lake George is an exceptionally beautiful setting for a national regatta for hydroplanes or large runabouts but except under unusual conditions is not suited for outboards because of the variable and tricky winds from the mountains which can stir up quite a heavy chop. In our opinion those who laid out the course showed very poor judgment in laying out the course so far away from the spectators. After all a regatta is meant for the entertainment of the general public; not for the benefit of the privileged few and to be an outstanding success it must be planned and run with the idea of greatest public appeal. Unfortunately this wasn't done at Lake George.

Gold Cup Summaries

First Heat

Boat and Owner


M. P. H.


El Lagarto, George Reis




Hornet, Aaron De Roy




Delphine IV, William Horn




Imp, Jack Rutherfurd




Scotty Too, Samuel Dunsford




Ethyl-Ruth, John Shibe



Second Heat

El Lagarto




Delphine IV








Scotty Too








Third Heat

Delphine IV








El Lagarto








*The fastest lap was made by Hornet in the second heat when she made 61.898 miles per hour.

(Reprinted from Power Boating, September 1934)

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