1940 President's Cup
Notre Dame Wins President's Cup
Four thundering hydroplanes started in the first heat of the President's Cup at Washington on September 28, but of the four only two were really "hot" boats and, as might be suspected, the real race was between these two. The four were: Notre Dame, owned by Herbert Mendelson of Detroit and driven by Danny Arena, who designed and built the boat; Hotsy Totsy, winner of the Gold Cup at Northport and now owned and driven by Sidney Allen of Hampton Bays, New York; Miss Syndicate, owned by Horace Dodge and driven by Eddie Hudson from Detroit, and My Sin, owned and driven by Zalmon G. Simmons of Greenwich. Connecticut, last year's winner of the Gold Cup. Then there were two of the 725 cubic inch hydroplanes from the Ohio valley—Why Worry, driven by "Wild Bill" Cantrell of Louisville and Mercury, driven by Marion Cooper, also of Louisville. Despite tremendous effort neither of these boats was ever a threat.
Starts in all three heats were particularly ragged and we suspect that possibly the poor showing of My Sin might be directly reflected in her poor starts. In the first heat Miss Syndicate took the lead. She had "shingles" added to her bottom since Northport and she performed beautifully, but, of course, could not hold the lead against her more modern sisters. At the end of the fourth lap, Danny took the lead and from then on was never headed throughout the three heats. My Sin finally managed to get by Miss Syndicate and had she made a better start, she might have been a lot closer to the fast flying Notre Dame. Hotsy Totsy was running last and finally gave up the ghost altogether. Mercury and Why Worry plugged along, but were hopelessly outclassed from the very start. Notre Dame won by nearly 600 yards with My Sin far ahead of Miss Syndicate, which finished third.
The water, though choppy, was not as bad as usual for the Potomac course, but the turns were altogether too sharp for these fast moving hydroplanes. Since the channel has been dredged over toward the other side of the river, the turns could be greatly eased, making for greater speed and more safety. Notre Dame averaged only 59.28 miles an hour with a fastest lap of 62.5. My Sin lopped off the fast six laps with an average of 62.92 miles an hour, and when the race was over she kept right on going for two more laps, as her owner was under the impression that he had to make twelve laps instead of six.
On the next day the two remaining heats were run and Notre Dame won both easily. This makes three wins for the owner—1935, 1937 and 1940. In the second heat Notre Dame averaged 64.65 miles an hour and in the final heat this was boosted to an average of 65.79 miles an hour. In the last heat My Sin seemed at times to be picking up on the flying Detroiter, but the figures showed that his average was somewhat less. Miss Syndicate was more than three miles an hour slower than My Sin. The two 725's kept plugging along but they were out of it from the very start. The water was a little rougher and the spectator fleet larger and, although Sea Scouts did splendid work in picking up bottles and other debris thrown overboard by thoughtless spectators, there was still plenty of stuff floating around.
On the first day in the 225 cubic inch class, Jack Cooper in his famed Tops came into the lower turn wide open, and as a result he did a double flip that just about wrecked his boat, although Jack, himself, was not even scratched. In the Pacific Coast Hydroplanes, first heat, our august contributing editor, Mel Crook, got a little over-anxious at the same spot and he, also, came a cropper. Both boats sank. All afternoon various classes ran circles around the course, including various "runabont" classes that do not bear the slightest resemblance to runabouts, 91 cubic inch, 135 cubic inch and 225 cubic inch hydroplanes, not forgetting the seven Pacific Coast Hydroplanes that put on a good show. A special event was an exhibition of water skis put on by Doug Fonda, former outboard record holder.
On the second day Tommy Chatfield in the 225's cleaned up handily in all three heats of the National Championship for his class. He came out again for the American Speedboat Championship, but My Sin was there, too, and she was just a little bit too fast for the smaller boat. My Sin sizzled along, smooth and silent. Viper, on the other hand, roared, jumped, leaped and did everything but a back flip, her driver giving her everything she had in order to pass the placid My Sin. This race brought the crowd to its feet and once or twice when Tommy tried to cut inside of My Sin and nearly succeeded, the crowd went wild. This was by far the best event of the series.
A number of mile records were set on mornings of the regatta, among them being Why Worry, the 725 cubic inch job which averaged 97.168 miles an hour. This beats the record made last winter by Gray Goose of 92.309. On a second try, Why Worry boosted her own record again to 98.368 miles an hour, which is going some for a boat equipped with an old aviation motor. Notre Dame tried it, supercharger and all, but the best she could do was 98.227. However, this beat Lou Fageol’s supercharged record made last year of 97.451 miles an hour. W. Earle Orem in his Pacific Coast One-design, Sea Flea, knocked of 50.183 miles an hour on the trials He also won the two heats of the class held on the 28th.
(Reprinted from The Rudder, November 1940, pp.15, 68)
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