1935 Spreckels Trophy
River Seine, Paris, France, July 6, 1935

Jean Dupuy Wins Spreckels Trophy

bullet American Boat to Race in France
bullet Jean Dupuy Wins Spreckels Trophy

On Saturday, July 6, America lost a race but new laurels were added to the crown of American sportsmanship. The race was for the Spreckels Trophy, a two-hour run on the Seine in Paris sponsored by Madame Jean Dupuy, daughter of the late American sugar magnate, A. B. Spreckels, for motor boats of 770 pounds and under.

The sportsmanship was shown by young R. Stanley Dollar, Jr., son of the ship owner, who was the only American entry and who was forced from the race by leaking gasoline tanks after ten minutes.

There were nine entries—three French, three Italian, two English, and the American.

The first three places were won by the French boats, all owned, and the winning boat driven by, Jean Dupuy, husband of the race's sponsor. Thus Dupuy won all the prizes, totaling 150,000 francs, and first leg on the massive silver trophy donated by his wife.

The course was 2,700 meters (1) long, running under seven bridges from the Carrousel Bridge to the Louis-Philippe Bridge. Dupuy completed the circuit 41 times in one hour 53 minutes 13 seconds. He had an average speed of 70.919 kilometers an hour (44 m.p.h.).

The race began at six o'clock in the afternoon and long before that time thousands of spectators were lined along the embankment and across the bridges. When the five minute gun sounded the contestants circled near the starting point, watching the great clock which signalled the start.

At exactly six the nine boats lifted on their steps with a roar heard across Paris and the race was on. Dupuy shot in the lead with Dollar close on his tail. The Seine was perfectly calm and the boats seemed barely to touch its surface as they shot past the Ile de la Cite on which Notre Dame rears its beautiful spires.

Dupuy made the turn considerably faster than Dollar and had an appreciable lead as they headed back for the starting point. But Dollar's boat showed its mettle on the straightaway and dosed in on Dupuy before the second turn.

This continued for three circuits, Dupuy gaining on every turn but Dollar coming up fast on each straightaway. To the spectators it seemed sure that Dollar had the faster boat and would win if he could speed up his turns under the narrow arches of the terminal bridges.

But Dollar never had a chance to show what he could do because on the first part of the fourth circuit his gas tanks loosened and the race, for him, was over. He swung in to the official barge moored along the bank, knowing only that something was wrong but still hoping it might be speedily repaired.

When he lifted the engine hood and saw the fuel seeping from both tanks, however, he realized that nothing could be done in time for him to get back in the race. It was a keen disappointment but he took it with philosophic calm. He said:

"It's just the breaks. Better luck some other time:"

Dollar was first out of the race but by no means did he have any corner on misfortune. Other boats soon began falling by the way. In fact all three Italians were forced out by engine trouble in the same circuit as Dollar. And their time for the three circuits was less than Dollar's so he placed sixth among the nine contestants.

Percy Pritchard of England dropped out next, leaving only the three Frenchmen and the other English contestant, Lord Forbes, the plucky 19-year-old baby of the race. And Lord Forbes was almost constantly in trouble. He was in the running long enough, and often enough, to show that he is a superb racer, but his engine caused him frequent trouble and he spent much time working over it while his hydroplane drifted on the river. When the race ended he was still crouched over his engine at the opposite end of the course from the finish line.

Louis Chird, one of Dupuy's drivers, was the last to drop out of the race, but he had piled up enough mileage so that he won third place. The other Dupuy driver, Raymond Sommer, an automobile race driver like Chiron, was in some ways the hero of the race from the spectators' point of view.

Stopped by engine trouble early in the second hour he sprawled on the bow of his boat and with his hands paddled in to the barge where he refused assistance, which would have disqualified him, and went smilingly to work. Once he paused to wave encouragingly to Lord Forbes who had his boat running again for the moment. He successfully completed his repairs and roared away again after Dupuy to thunderous applause from the spectators.

From then on he was the darling of the crowd and on one straightaway, when he flashed past his employer with a grin and a jaunty wave thousands burst into a spontaneous cheer. For the last half hour of the race he and Dupuy were the only active contestants, Lord Forbes being steadily at work on his,, balky engine.

When the finish gun sounded Dupuy, the only contestant whose boat had run steadily for the two hours, was an easy winner with his two assistants Sommer and Chiron, respectively second and third.

The accident which put Dollar out of the race was described to a representative of MoToR BOATING as follows :

"I first discovered something was wrong when my super-charger did not work correctly," said Young Dollar after he was out of the race. "I did not know exactly what was wrong then but decided to come in and investigate.

"Naturally I was amazed when I lifted the hood on the engine and found the bottom of the engine compartment covered with about four inches of gasoline. Had I continued most likely there would have been an explosion of some kind so I was very glad I had decided to investigate.

"What had happened was that the gas tanks had worked loose and had begun to leak. That also explained the reason why I could not get the proper amount of air pressure in the tanks because of the holes. The more air I pumped into the tanks the more gas I was forcing out into the engine compartment.

"It was impossible to make any repairs on the spot as the whole engine would have to be removed to work on the gas tanks. I had no alternative but to quit the race but given more time to test my boat I certainly hope to qualify for other races which will be held in France during the summer. I hate to think of returning home after having been in only one race and that one for only ten minutes. I do want to demonstrate fully what my boat will do before I return to the United States."

On his side Dupuy proved the true sportsman that he is by praising the performance of the other boats in the race and especially that of Dollar's. He repeatedly stated that he wished the other boats could have stayed in the race until the end.

"It would have made the race much more interesting," he said, "but the same race will be run over the same course at about the same date next year and I hope all of the men who competed this year will return for next year's race. Especially would I like to see more American entries. I realize it is a long distance to come for a two hours' race but I certainly hope the Americans will at least have a team of three entered when this time next year arrives.

"The cup is donated by my wife," Dupuy continued, "and is named after her father, the late A. B. Spreckels. It was purchased last fall and has a value of $10,000. If the entries from any country win the race three times then the cup becomes theirs.

"The French now have one leg on the cup—I leave it to the many fine sportsmen you have in America to see that we don't get the next."

As Dupuy pointed out, this is the first time in the history of motorboat racing that a race lasting for two hours has been run over a closed course.

Dollar's record as a fearless young driver who goes out to win is well known in America but the boat he brought to Europe with him was entirely new and had only been in the water for an hour when it arrived in Paris.

Equipped with an Offenhauser engine developing 150 h. p., Young Dollar's boat Uncle Sam is so designed that it stuck to water better than any other entry in the Spreckels Trophy race. The wood hull is 14 feet long and carries a Riley Outboard drive. The engine is supercharged and has a cubic capacity of 97 cubic inches. The boat was designed by Dollar himself and Bud Holt. Holt built the boat in California. Uncle Sam tipped the scales at 347.5 kilograms before she took the water.

Dupuy's boats are all exactly the same type. He designed and built them all. Made of duraluminum, the hulls scale about 95 kilograms. The engines are all six cylinder with double overhead camshafts and superchargers blowing at about 20 pounds. They will develop 110 h.p. producing 5,500 revolutions per minute. His boats were among the lightest in the race, ranging from 246 to 248 kilograms.

Sommer, who placed second and was the most daring of all drivers, rounded the course 31 times for an even distance of 93 kilometers. He was the only entry besides Dupuy who was still in the race at the end of the two hours and received second prize by virtue of the distance covered.

Louis Chiron, the other French driver who placed third, pushed his boat around the course 29 times to cover 87 kilometers. He was in the water for one hour, 23 minutes and 14 seconds.

Viscount Forbes, the young Englishman, captured fourth place with a boat driven by an engine he bought from Dupuy more than a year ago. It is an older model but the specifications of this engine are practically the same as those Dupuy used in the race. Forbes himself had built a special supercharger and several other attachments for the engine but these seemed to help its performance very little. Although his hull was of wood he barely made the weight specified. Before being forced to abandon by spark plug trouble he covered the course 17 times for a distance of 51 kilometers.

Another Englishman, Percy Prichard, gained fifth place and was the only driver in the race who sank his boat. He had a well designed aluminum hull with a 75 horse power engine. This was fitted with side instead of overhead valves and had a cubic capacity of 91 cubic inches. Prichard sprung a leak early in the race and sank when he shipped water on a sharp turn. He covered 39 kilometers but in very poor time.

The three Italian drivers, Ernesto Carmagnani, Aldo Dacco and Guglielmo Barberis made the same distance as Dollar but were relegated to seventh, eight and ninth place because of poor time.

Barberis was driving a four cylinder double overhead camshaft supercharged motor with a cubic capacity of 92 cubic inches. He claimed 118 kilometers an hour for his boat but the show he made in the race gave no indication of substantiating the claim.

Pacco and Carmagnani drove outboard motors, the former an Elto of American manufacture and the latter a Lams. All three of the Italian hulls were of wood. The two boats equipped with outboard motors weighed approximately 246 kilograms while Barberis' boat scaled 338 kilograms.

(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 wildturnip@gmail.com
© Leslie Field, 2006