1945 Salton Sea Regatta
Salton Sea, CA, November 17-19, 1945


Records Tumble Again in Salton Sea Racing

Speed Races Slated For Salton Sea
Records Tumble Again in Salton Sea Racing

Blistering speeds and new world records, that's the year-by-year record of Salton Sea racing. This was the fifth Annual Salton Sea Regatta and it upheld the tradition in every way. There were 25 heats of hard-fought competitive racing, plus a half a hundred mile trial runs and when the tabulators had finished their record of the three-day event there were five new world records on the books.

This regatta is a test horse for new racing technique. This year officials installed a new so-called "perfect circle" course, a one-and-two-thirds mile circuit made up of ten 880-foot straightaways.

The public was barred from the big regatta. The attendance ruling was an unavoidable contingent to the use of the U. S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station where the regatta was held. Past course sites of other Salton Sea regattas were unobtainable this year and the big regatta was put on as an event for entertaining the men of the Navy's desert stations. The big Naval Air Station at Sandy Beach provided a wonderful site. A 1200-foot mole was ideally located for pit space and the big 60ton seaplane ramp made a wonderful launching facility. Acres of paved dispersal area were available for camping and buildings allotted for headquarters, motor inspection and repair.

The weather and water were perfect for all three days of the schedule, which ran from November 17th to the 19th, inclusive.

Two records fell on Saturday, the day given over to mile trials for inboards, one five-mile competition record went to the boards on Sunday and the final two new marks were established on Monday's outboard mile trial runs. All are now official and have been approved by the Racing Commission of the American Power Boat Association.

The five new record holders are:

One mile straightaway record for 135 cubic inch inboard hydroplanes: new record, 80.178-mph by Tommy Hill, Alameda, in his boat Ly Bee; old record, 73.781-mph.

One mile straightaway record for Pacific one design hydroplanes: new record, 52.36-mph by Elmer Cravener, Los Angeles, in his boat Pudgy; old record, 51.54-mph.

Five mile competition record for Class A-1 outboard hydroplanes: new record, 46.89-mph by Tommy DeWitt, Phoenix, in his boat S I; old record, 45.31-mph.

One mile straightaway record for Class A-1 outboard hydroplanes: new record, 50.28-mph by Tommy DeWitt, Phoenix, in his boat S-I; old record, 49.52-mph.

One mile straightaway record for Class C-II outboard hydroplanes: new record, 63.54-mph by Thom Cooper, Kansas City, Mo., in his boat Y-200; old record, 60.45-mph.

For the second time in the long and colorful history of the Pacific Motor Boat Trophy Race this important event was run in conjunction with the Salton Sea Regatta. For many years the Pacific Motor Boat race was sponsored by the California Yacht Club and raced each November at a special regatta held on the Lido Isle Course at Newport Harbor. In 1942 Newport was jammed to the hilt with Army and Navy vessels and officials deemed it advisable to transfer the regatta site. Gas rationing forbid much traveling for the racing clan so the 45-miler was included in the Salton Sea schedule to allow the many drivers who annually make the desert trek-to participate in both regattas.

With Newport still crowded with her wartime boat population, this race was again included in this year's Salton Sea Regatta schedule and as in 1942 the distance of the event was reduced from 45 miles to 30, three ten-mile heats.

Joe Guess challenged for the trophy naming veteran driver Clay Smith to drive his new 225 cubic-incher Guess Who? and as racing day drew near a top notch list of entries insured that the race for the big trophy would probably be the most hotly contested of all time.

Bobby Fritch entered the world record holder of the 225 Class, the Invader; Dud Valentine named Miss Hollywood; Mike Shain brought his "V" all the way from Seattle; and there were a round half dozen of the West's finest 135-cubic inchers on the list. Pre-race favorite was Phantom, a new Division I of the 225-Cubic inch fleet owned by Commodore Ted Jones of Seattle. If this fleet had even started in one heat there would have been racing history made, but most of the entrants broke up in practice, several went out during their class races and several more chose to withdraw rather than risk 30 miles of punishment to machinery that could not be replaced for another year or two.

The call for the first heat found only three boats ready at the line. Eddie Meyer's Avenger was the class of the lot and he took all three boats without opening up. Art Maynard's Lil Beauty II took it just as easy to gather in her three second places, while Mike Shain's V failed to finish the first heat and did not re-appear for the final two races.

Meyer's best heat averaged out 53.18-mph, which might just as easily have been a 65-mph clip if he had been forced to extend himself. Lou Fageol, no longer a resident of the zone of 5 Western states, was not eligible to defend his 1942 championship. The Pacific Motor Boat regatta committee has announced that in 1946 the regatta will return to its individual status and the race for the coveted championship should bring out a record crowd of fast machinery. The trophy is in the custody of the Los Angeles Athletic Club and is kept in their perpetual case in the Yachting Room.

The highlights in the C Racing event found Harry Combs of Abilene, Texas, taking both heats for his third consecutive annual win in the class. Combs' three-time win retires the Salton Sea Perpetual Trophy for C Racing runabout, the first of the 12 perpetuals to be retired from competition. The days next thrill was the first heat of racing for the 135-cubic inch class which brought out 13 of the fastest 135's in the country. Bud Meyer of Hollywood was the final winner of both heats, leading his dad Eddie to the finish line each time. Not one heat of the competition racing was devoid of thrills as there were smash-ups and flips in every race of the day.

Year by year the Salton Sea Regatta has grown in stature and importance until it now ranks with the world's finest racing events. Drivers from nearly every racing state in the union now make this race on the Big Salton one of the big stops of the calendar. There are now 21 official world records standing on the list of marks accredited to the Salton Sea course. Probably no time in the history of racing has any one course ever held so many records at one time.

The first place winners in Sunday's competition were: M Hydroplane, L. H. Missall, Wickenburg, Ariz., in C-169, the Chicadee; A Hydroplane, T. L. DeWitt, Phoenix, Ariz., in S-1; B Hydroplane, E. R. Silva, Hanford, Calif., in Y-74; and C Hydroplane, T. Cooper, Kansas City, Mo., in Y-200.

In the Runabout class, first place winners were: C Service Runabout, J. Leonardo, Hanford, Calif., in C-52, the My Shadow; C Racing Runabout, H. Combs, Abilene, Texas, in T-25; and F Racing Runabout, C Owens, Covina, Calif., in C-203, the El-Bar III.

Other winners were: Pacific OneDesign Hydroplane, E. Cravener, Los Angeles, Calif., in O-6, the Pudgy; 225 Cu. In. Inboard (Div. II), D. Valentine, Culver City, Calif., in 9-F, the Miss Hollywood; 135 Cu. In. Inboard, B. Meyer, Redwood City, Calif., in 99-A, the Intruder; 225 Cu. In. Inboard (Div. I), G. Schrafft, New York, N. Y., in F-79, the Chrissie IV; and Pacific Motor Boat Trophy Race, E. Meyer, Hollywood, Calif., in 15-A, the Avenger.

(Reprinted from Pacific Motor Boat, January 1946, pp.24-25)


Hydroplane History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at wildturnip@gmail.com
Leslie Field, 2000