1937 President's Cup
Potomac River, Washington D.C., September 24-26, 1937
Driver Set Speed Mark
By Daniel F. Craig
Jack Rutherfurd, of Port Washington, Long Island, sent his new Juno, a dark horse entry in the President's Cup Race yesterday, roaring over the muddy, churning Potomac to set a new world's record for the classic. The veteran speedboat pilot maintained an average of 65.217 miles per hour for 15 miles in the first heat.
In a surprise move just before the regatta, Rutherfurd scratched his famous Ma-Ja. He bought Juno from a New Jersey boatbuilder who made the craft for a Chinese "Suicide Fleet."
Rutherfurd heard of the little racer, designed to roar toward Japanese warships at terrific speed with 500 pounds of high explosive in her hull. Knowing his Ma-Ja would be hopelessly outclassed by Notre Dame and the Italian challenger, Alagi, he bought her. With Ma-Ja's faithful Packard engine, he had a winning combination.
As a crowd of 75,000 lined the Hains Point seawall and perched atop hundreds of gaily bedecked spectator craft of every size and description to see the high- powered craft perform, 14 of the Army's finest pursuit planes roared overhead in formation to stage an air circus for the Red Cross, adding to the general din.
Rutherfurd's record-breaking performance shattered the mark of 57.692 hung up by George Reis' famous El Lagarto in 1932.
In the morning, the veteran speed boat pilot opened Juno up in the mile trials and set a new American record of 84.6065 for gold cup racers.
Here again another of El Lagarto's records fell. Her old mark of 72.727 for non-supercharged craft and Notre Dame's 76, for supercharged boats, fell prey to the terrific speed of Rutherfurd's racer.
Maude Rutherfurd's Miss Palm Beach jumped into the lead at the start, but Juno forged ahead and by the end of the first lap came down the stretch past the Apache at terrific speed with Herbert Mendelson's Notre Dame and Italian challenger, Count Rossi's Alagi, fighting it out neck and neck 100 yards astern. Notre Dame shook off the Italian in the third lap and at the finish Rutherfurd's snub-nosed, fire-belching racer was 10 seconds ahead of Notre Dame, with the Italian Alagi a half-mile astern.
Horace E. Dodge's Impshi was fourth, Delphine IX fifth and Maude Rutherfurd's Miss Palm Beach sixth.
Mendelson's veteran driver, Clell Perry, held the white, streamlined Notre Dame, backed by the terrific power of her 24-cylinder Dusenberg, pounding along within 100 yards of Rutherfurd throughout the entire grueling contest.
Sixty-one-year-old Jack Cooper of Kansas City, Mo., swept to an easy victory with his streamlined Tops II in all three heats of the national championships for 225 cubic inch hydroplanes. The white-haired Missouri veteran roared away first in every start and stayed there to cramp the style of Charles F. Wheatley, of Toronto, Canada, who wound up second, and Dr. Robert Herrmann, of Cincinnati, who was third.
In the 91-cubic-inch hydroplanes, Dr. R.E. Wolf, of Ulrichsville, Ohio, triumphed while James W. Orme, of Washington, was second with Wooden Horse. S. Mortimer Auerbach, of Atlantic City, N.J., and Sam Crooks, a former outboard star, were tied up in a hard- fought battle for honors in 135 hydro division, each hollding 700 points when the noise subsided.
Tragedy was narrowly averted when Baby Toots, piloted by Francis Vintscheger, of Morristown, NJ., rolled over twice as he came out of a turn at high speed in the first heat for the 225 championships, hurtling Vintscheger into the muddy river. Spectators gasped as C.F. Schwarm Jr., driving Miss Behave in hot pursuit, swerved in a burst of spray and just missed the unlucky pilot, who swam toward his disabled craft which floated upright 50 yards away. Rescue boats picked Vintscheger up uninjured and towed his damaged craft off the course.
Today moe than 100,000 are expected to jam Hains Point to see the big Gold Cup racers streak over the course in two more grueling, 15-mile heats of the President's Cup race, and a brilliant field getaway for the 225-cubic-inch hydroplane free-for-all.
(Reprinted from the Washington Post, Sunday, Sept. 26, 1937)
(ED. NOTE -- A crowd estimated at some 100,000 by the Post showed up at Sunday's finale, braving chilly weather, to see the Notre Dame grab the victory with a win in the second heat and a second-place finish to Alagi in the final heat. Jack (Pop) Cooper turned in the most spectacular performance of the day by winning the 225-cubic-inch hydroplane free-for-all in straight heats. "The white-haired Kansas City, Mo., automobile man," wrote Dan Craig, "gave the boys another driving lesson by taking the American speedboat championship from John Charles Thomas' big runabout, Smyne. Fairly flying over the course, in his Tops II, Cooper fought of the gallant challenge of Charles F. Wheaton, of Toronto, Canada. After zooming around the course neck and neck with Wheaton's Shadow II for two laps, Cooper fed the coal to his streamlined white speedster and galloped across the finish a scant 50 feet ahead of his rival. It was a thrilling victory that brought cheers from the crowd." In Sunday morning's mile trials, Clell Perry tried to open up the Notre Dame but failed to reach Rutherfurd's mark of Saturday with a run of 82.298 mph. Count Rossi, in Alagi's third-heat win, did snap Rutherfurd's first-heat record set by Juno in Saturday's first heat with a 15- mile average of 68.802 mph.
[This article was originally reprinted in the URC ThunderLetter]
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