1939 APBA Gold Cup
Detroit River, Detroit MI, September 4, 1939


War Crisis Keeps Rossi Abroad; Alagi, Defender, Out Of Gold Cup
Italian Count Who Swept Speed-Boat Events In 1938 Cancels Trip
Field Is Reduced to Five U.S. and One Canadian Craft
By Clarence E. Lovejoy

Will She Take the Gold Cup This Month? (So-Long)
War Crisis Keeps Rossi Abroad
Speed Boats to Start in Labor Day Classic
Pilot of Delphine IX Killed as Boat Sinks
Why Worry First in Detroit Regatta [725's]
Miss Canada III Choice to Beat Five Rivals
Simmons Sets 90-Mile Speed Mark
The Gold Cup Class Revisited - 1939

This year’s Gold Cup classic on Labor Day at Detroit will have no defending champion for the 90-mile speedboat race and will resolve itself, instead, into an all-American affair.

Count Theo Rossi indicated by cable last night that he was being kept on the other side of the Atlantic by Europe’s war tension and would not arrive next Thursday as contemplated. His famous hump-backed red and black craft Alagi, which won three straight heats last September to become the first foreign entry every to capture American’s oldest speedboat event, is already in this country, but will not be piloted by any substitute driver.

Count Rossi, who holds a commission as a cavalry lieutenant in the Italian Army and who was assigned to some flying in Ethiopia, had notified his American friends that he would sail Thursday from Italy on the liner Conte di Savola. This steamship and others from Italian ports have had their sailings cancelled.

Cables From Turin

Late yesterday Rossi, who is the head of the international Martini & Rossi vermouth business, cabled from his home in Turin to Steve Hannagan as follows: "Unlikely I will be able to defend Gold Cup."

The was interpreted last night in boating circles to mean that Rossi had abandoned any thought of reaching a channel port in time to take a French or English liner or to try to book passage on one of the transatlantic Clipper planes. Joe Copps of the Hannagan staff immediately notified the Detroit officials of this year’s Gold up regatta, J. Lee Barrett of the Yachtsmen’s Association of America and Otto Barthel, who represents both the Detroit Gold Cup committee and the Detroit Y.C.

Rossi’s Alagi arrived early this week on the freighter Birmania from Genoa and was immediately transshipped to Detroit until its driver and his pair of mechanics could arrive. The were to have taken a plane from New York next Thursday and utilize Friday and Saturday for pre-race trials.

Canadian Entry Expected

Without the Italian defender, the Gold Cup classic will be a battle among five United States boats, in all probability, and one Canadian challenger. These are expected to be Zalmon G. Simmons’s My Sin from Greenwich, Conn.; Herbert Mendelson’s Notre Dame and the Dodge-Schaeffer Delphine IX from Detroit; Louis Fageol’s So-Long from Los Angeles, Dr. A.L. Harbarger’s Art-Riff from Cincinnati and E.A. Wilson’s Miss Canada III from Ingersoll, Ont.

Rossi’s feats in his all-metal boat with its Isotta Fraschini motor of 500 horsepower have been sensational. Last ear he won both the Gold cup at Detroit and the President’s Cup at Washington, capturing thereby the world twelve liter speed boat championship.

So complete was his domination over his American rival that on the Potomac his Alagi was the only starter. In an act typical of the sportsmanship that has made him popular with Americans, he refused to accept the President’s Cup by any such hollow victory and he demanded, instead, that he by handicapped in race against any available smaller speed craft.

Set Speed Mark at 67.675 m.p.h.

The next day he started nearly two minutes behind five home-bred drivers and yet finished in the lead of this special fifteen-mile race, setting a new record at 67.675 miles an hour.

One of his Potomac laps was clocked at 70.866 m.p.h., and one at Detroit brought Alagi to this country — he had raced smaller boats some years before in Florida — he was runner-up to Mendelson’s Notre Dame at both Detroit and Washington.

(Reprinted from the New York Times August 26, 1939)


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Leslie Field, 2000