1936 APBA Gold Cup
Lake George, NY, July 25, 1936

No Contest!

Kaye Don Drives Impshi to Uncontested Victory in Gold Cup Race
as Unreliable Contenders Fill Boathouses

bullet Shining Up the Gold Cup
bullet No Contest

Four boats laid low in their pits a few miles from the line. A bang up start with George Reis' El Lagarto leading Impshi, driven by Kaye Don. Roar-r-r ! r-r-r-r! and then put-put-put. Less than a minute later the "Leaping Lizard of Lake George" was out with a burned out connecting rod bearing and Don judiciously cut Impshi's speed to a bare 45 miles per hour over the remaining 89 miles, and the race was over. That, briefly, is the story of the thirty-third race for the Gold Cup, the blue ribbon event of American power boating.

"What happened to the others?" the score or more timers and officials at the starting line on Bixby's Point asked each other. "Is this the Gold Cup Race?" asked the thousands of spectators lining the shores of beautiful Bolton Landing and the decks of dozens of spectator craft surrounding the course. "Can this be the famous Gold Cup classic?" thought the placid waters of old Lake George parting quietly as Impshi cruised about the course. The sun shone brightly, the water was smooth; nature's preparation was ideal, but the men and boats were missing.

A few minutes before, as the officials left the various boat-houses after a final round of "looking them over," six boats were supposedly ready to start. Delphine VIII, the other Dodge entry, had finally started her big 750 hp. Miller motor; El Torbellino's little outboard-like hull was about to be launched, and Miss Canada II had been pronounced a complete boat. Only a few had learned that Notre Dame, Herbert Mendelson's big President's Cup winner, had burned out her second universal joint in two days in running a single lap of the course less than an hour before the start.

As Impshi carried monotonously on through the first heat, the stories began to drift in. El Lagarto could not possibly start in the subsequent heats. Nothing which George Reis, "Dick" Bowers and all Bolton Landing could do would repair the troublesome bearing which had finally burned out completely on the all-important occasion. Delphine VIII had run down her battery in the last minute rush to start her engine and had no spare. If one could be found she "might " start later. Miss Canada II had not taken kindly to Lake George and refused to pump enough water to keep her engine properly cooled. Her propeller never made a revolution. El Torbellino had snapped a ⅜-inch bolt which held her starter in place and, having none to replace it, had sent a hurried call to all the garages and service stations in the vicinity. She, too, might make the second heat. Notre Dame was crippled beyond repair.

As Impshi completed her first heat, and the scrappy little group of " 225's" roared around the course at better than 50 miles per hour there was still a little to look forward to. Some of the other Gold Cup entries might come out and at least try for a heat or lap record although, by failing to start in the first heat, they had passed up the Gold Cup.

But these hopes, too, came to nothing. As the gun barked for the second heat, Impshi crossed the line without a sign of any of the other entries. As the unreliability of the whole fleet became more and more apparent, officials began to ponder what course to take if Impshi, too, should break down. There was nothing in the rules to limit the length of time she might stay on the course to make her own repairs. The best solution seemed to be to allow her to stay until dark and then disqualify her for failing to carry running lights. But Don was too canny a driver to permit such an eventuality.

The second heat for the Gold Cup passed placidly and the "225's" popped out and were again led by Snail II, driven by Hugh Gingras, and Zippy II, with John Shade at the wheel. These two took first and second positions at the start of each of the ten-mile heats and in-creased their leads consistently, the Governor Lehman Trophy going to Snail II.

As the "225's" finished, the crowd started home and only a handful of officials remained to hear a radio announcer dramatize the one exciting moment of the third Gold Cup heat. With only a lap and a half to go, Impshi suddenly slowed down and almost stopped but it was only in deference to the wash of a large steamer starting home with her weary spectators. A few minutes later Kaye Don and Winton Buick, his mechanic, stepped ashore to receive the Gold Cup, the reward for a careful race with an old engine pushing an older boat in practice as well as theory.

A summary of the boats and the evils that befell them follows:

El Lagarto, George Reis' old Hacker-built hull, had a new 700 hp. Reis-Menasco engine, not supercharged. The "Leaping Lizard" had shown plenty of speed with her new motor but had been haunted by bearing trouble; her engine had been out twice in the three days preceding the race.

El Torbellino, designed, built, owned and driven by Al Bobrick of Long Beach, California, is a 15-footer which, above water, looks for all the world like an outboard, but is powered with a 728-cubic-inch Wright aeroplane motor. When the bolt on her starter let go, the starter shifted and sheared off several teeth so that, even after a new bolt was found, the engine could not be started.

Miss Canada II, owned and driven by Harold Wilson of Toronto, is a brand new boat with a new type 12-cylinder opposed pis-ton engine designed by Miller for aeroplane use. She was completed too late for a trial and could not hope to have finished the 90 miles without mishap, even if she had been able to start. Insufficient cooling water laid her low.

Delphine VIII, one of Horace Dodge's fleet, was to have been driven by Benny Hill. Her unusually broad hull was designed by Fred Cooper and she was reputed to be putting out 750 hp. with the "souped" 16-cylinder Miller formerly used in Impshi. She arrived a scant twelve hours before the start, after a non-stop from Detroit, rushed against time to get ready and, after running down one battery in attempting to start her engine, found she had no spare battery.

Notre Dame, Herbert Mendelson's big mile record holder, powered by the notorious old 24-cylinder Duesenberg, supercharged and with open stack exhausts, arrived late the preceding afternoon. She was taken out immediately by Clel Perry, her designer and driver. In a short ten-mile run she burned up a universal joint. A replacement was rushed to Lake George from Detroit by a special plane. Her corps of mechanics worked all night putting in new air vents abaft her step, changing her bottom, getting ready for the new universal, and other last minute jobs. Next morning she went two and one-half miles, one-thirty-sixth of the Gold Cup Course.

Next to El Lagarto, Impshi was the oldest hull in the list of entries. She was designed by George F. Crouch and built in 1925. She is powered with a supercharged 625-cubic-inch Packard engine of old vintage. She arrived several days in advance, made no last minute changes or adjustments, and took the Gold Cup.

There has been considerable comment on the lack of suitable stock engines available to Gold Cup con-tenders. In four of the six entries in this year's contest, the engines were never given a chance to perform. In two cases, starting equipment failed, in the third it was cooling equipment and in the fourth, power transmitting equipment.

Can the engine be blamed for these failures?

Gold Cup Race. Three Heats, 30 miles each
First Heat





Best Lap


Horace E. Dodge




El Lagarto

George Reis



Second Heat






Third Heat






Average speed, Impshi, 45.734; total time, 1:53:15

Governor Lehman Trophy
Two Heats, 10 miles each



1st heat

2d heat

Total points

Snail II

Hugh Gingras, Rockledge, Fla




Zippy II

John Shade, Phila




Baby Toots II

Warner Steinbach, Milburn, N. J




Canadian Capers

Gordon Olive, Ottawa





E D. Weeks, Des Moines





Dr. R. E. Wolf, Uhrichsville, Ohio




Riptide III

Albert Schwarzler, New York




Time First heat, Snail II, 11:40 1-5; speed, 51.429 m.p.h. Second heat, Snail II, 11:58 1-5; speed, 50.139 m.p.h.

(Reprinted from Yachting, September 1936, pp. 44, 102-3)

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