1934 APBA Gold Cup
El Lagarto Wins Gold Cup on Lake George
For the first time in twenty years the mountains rising from the blue waters of Lake George echoed the roar of exhausts from a fleet of Gold Cup boats as El Lagarto, staving off a determined challenge by the Hornet, wore down a fleet of five of these premier racing speed boats to keep for the Lake George Club the most coveted speed trophy in the United States. Owned and driven by George Reis, the twelve-year-old racer gave one of the most spectacular performances of her long career, and again demonstrated that she is still the most reliable as well as one of the fastest boats in the Gold Cup Class. The second heat, in which Reis came from behind to pass his principal rival, the Hornet, after the latter had come near shattering all previous lap records, was one of the most thrilling over seen in a race on the water, and one that will be long remembered by those who saw it.
After losing the first heat, when El Lagarto jumped into the lead just after the start and gave Hornet 30 miles of broken water to run in, Benny Hill, Hornet's driver, hit the line opened up wide, just as the gun barked, and in a burst of speed that has been equaled only once for a single lap in a Gold Cup contest, left all his competitors except El Lagarto far behind. Reis, starting last with El Lagarto, quickly passed the rest of the fleet and, after rounding the first turn, went after Hornet at such a terrific pace that the latter's driver could not ease up a fraction on his hard pressed motor. At the end of the lap Hornet was clocked at 61.9 m.p.h. for the two and one-half miles. So furious was the pace with El Lagarto hammering persistently away a few yards astern, that Hornet was forced to average a trifle over 61 miles for the first four laps. All the time Reis seemed to be creeping up slowly and wearing down his rival. Then, on the back stretch of the fifth lap, El Lagarto pushed her sharp nose past her rival's bow and, as if the effort had proved too much for the Detroit boat, Hornet tired quickly and dropped back, beaten and spent. She finished the lap limping badly, and then dropped out, thoroughly done in, after furnishing the big thrill of the thirty-first running of the Gold Cup classic.
George Reis, ably assisted by Dick Bowers, his "Wall Street mechanic," drove a remarkable race. The going was none too easy, for a stop of a sea made the old boat porpoise badly but, despite this, she was never headed in the first heat, after a remarkable start. As told above, she took the second heat by forcing Hornet to run her head off, and then all she needed was to go out and finish in the third heat to collect enough points to win the cup. By this time only two others of the six original contestants were left, the galloping Delphine IV, driven by William Horn, and Jack Rutherfurd's Imp, a reliable performer nearly as old as El Lagarto herself, but with not quite sufficient speed. So, trailing these two, and finishing last, El Lagarto garnered enough points to keep the cup for the Lake George Club for another year.
It was over the same course on Lake George just twenty years ago that the Ankle Deep, defending the cup, capsized and sank, after throwing her owner, Count Mankowski, into the lake, and the little Baby Speed Demon II, owned by Mrs. Paula H. Blackton, went on and won. But it is not so much this fact that fixes the date in one's mind as it is that on the day of the Gold Cup race word came of the invasion of Belgium by Germany and Great Britain's declaration of war, precipitating over four years of strife. That news loomed larger than Speed Demon’s victory. Of the officials at the race this year, several had participated in the event of twenty years ago.
Five boats disputed El Lagarto's hold on the cup this year. Hornet, which gave Reis such a tussle, is the former Delphine VI, recently purchased by Aaron DeRoy, of Detroit. She was well driven by Benny Hill, better known as an auto racing driver than as a speed boat pilot.
Delphine IV was one of Horace Dodge's big fleet of flyers. She was driven, as usual, by Bill Horn, and in the rough going gate an exhibition of porpoising at its best. She lasted through the three heats.
Imp, J. M. Rutherfurds old reliable, with a new Packard motor in her, was good. but not
(Reprinted from Yachting, September 1934, pp.82-83, 122)
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