1940 National Sweepstakes
Tops III Takes Final
Red Bank, N. J., Aug. 25  — Gold Cup Class challengers for the National Sweepstakes Trophy resumed their normal form today — that is to say they ran briefly, if at all — and so the famous bronze speedboat prize went to the 225-cubic-inch hydroplane, Tops III, driven by Grandpa Jack Cooper, of Kansas City, Mo., who won it in 1937 with a previous boat of the same name and type. Tops and Pop, a combination which earlier this raw, cold afternoon had romped off with the 225 Class award, went on to a new sweepstakes total race record after the gold cuppers flared spectacularly and then fizzled like skyrockets in the second heat.
Herb Mendelson’s Notre Dame, which had sped to sensational new records in yesterday’s first fifteen-mile heat, lasted less than a minute. As Danny Arena wound her out of the first turn ahead of the fleet her propeller shaft snapped. Notre Dame flipped up on her side, spilled her mechanic, Jimmy Finley, into the river, and then settled back onto an even keel in a shower of spray of her own making.
Saved From Sinking
A few moments later she was beached to save her from sinking. The broken ends of the shaft had splintered her bottom planking and water poured into her so fast that the Coast Guard had to work rapidly to get Notre Dame ashore.
When Notre Dame went out, George Cannon’s triple-motored Gray Goose III hammered into the lead and was galloping away from Tops III as they straightened out down the long backstretch on the second lap. On the turn, though, Gray Goose’s power plant went to the dogs. Tops fell heir to the lead and she proceeded to hold it against three other 225’s, Viper, Miss Fireball and Eaglet III, the rest of the way.
Two other Gold Cup entries, Lou Fageol’s So Long, from California, and Horace Dodge’s venerable Miss Syndicate from Detroit, were non-starters. So Long was towed away from the pits this morning and Miss Syndicate burned out a bearing while warming up for the start.
It came to pass, then, that all Tops’s competition in the third heat was Jack Wood’s Miss Fireball and Tom Chatfield’s newest Viper. The latter was an early casualty, so Cooper backed off the throttle to allow Miss Fireball to get close to Tops. Then they made a pretense at racing for the benefit of the crowd.
Tops ran her three fifteen-mile heats at 67.839, 68.301 and 64.287 miles an hour, respectively, and thus hung up a new total race average of 66.809 m.p.h., four miles better than the mark made by Tops II in 1937.
Twelve Standards Broken
This record was one of twelve new standards established during this two-day speedboat carnival. Four records were broken and one was equaled today, and two of the eight made yesterday were improved upon again. A combination of fast course, perfect water and the right atmospheric conditions for good carburetion made the record smashing possible, not to say monotonous.
The national championship and Interstate Trophy, at stake in the 135 cubic-inch piston displacement hydroplane class, went to Eight Ball II owned and driven by Henry Davis jr. of Granogue, Del. The flashy little boat won two heats, and then with a safe lead in points, coasted home astern of Mort Auerbach’s Emancipator VIII in the last test. Davis contributed to the record display with a mark of 56.285, an improvement on the 55.351 m.p.h. performance he turned in yesterday in winning the first heat in record time.
Cooper rounded out a full day by equalling at 70.810 miles an hour, the competitive record for 225’s he made, with Tops III on the fast Lakeland, Fla. course in February.
The outboard records were put on the books by Gar Wood jr. in Class B and Jimmy Mullen; of Richmond, Va. in Class P. The little Pacific Coast one-design hydroplanes put on a four-boat race won by Irving Barney’s Hobo from Fall River, Mass., with a record speed of 45.801 m. p. h. Barney won the first heat going away, but was beaten in the second when his motor died only two lengths from the line.
(Reprinted from the New York Herald Tribune, August 26, 1940)
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