Detroit River, Detroit, Mich., September 2, 1946
Lombardo Wins 1946 Gold Cup
By Harry LeDuc
Much remains today to explain to the 250,000 people (estimated from the air) who saw Guy Lombardo in his Tempo VI win the Gold Cup on the Detroit River Monday afternoon.
Before clearing up misconceptions, however, it is in order to tell what boat racing's first bandleader did, to wit:
Lombardo "swept the deck" by scoring the maximum number of points, 2,000, getting 400 points for the fastest time in the first heat, 400 more for winning the second, 400 for the third, 400 for the fastest heat and 400 for the fastest time for the 90 miles.
He also broke two records.
He set the 30-mile heat mark at 70.878 mph, breaking the record of 68.645 mph made by Herb Mendelson's Notre Dame here in 1937 and the 70 mph mark set by Gar Wood's Miss America in 1920.
He smashed the record for the full 90 miles, boosting it from 65.240 to 68.072 mph. The previous mark was set by the same boat when she was called My Sin and when she won the Gold Cup here in 1939 for Zalmon G. Simmons.
And now to clear up the misconceptions of the multitudes. The crowds on both shores of the course felt certain that Dan Arena and his brother, Gene, in Miss Golden Gate III had the cup clinched in the third and final heat.
Miss Golden Gate was a mile and a half ahead of Tempo VI. She was in the last lap, with a mile and a half to go. She had shown more speed lap after lap than any other Gold Cup ever did. She had turned every lap of the heat at better than 73 miles an hour and had set the lap record at 77.531 mph, on the ninth lap, where it stands today.
Golden Gate and Tempo VI, fastest survivors of a starting fleet of 17 boats, had gone into the final heat with the point score 800 to 600 in Tempo VI's favor. Tempo VI also had an option on 400 bonus points for the fastest heat when she averaged 66.315 mph as she won the second heat. Tempo also had piled up an edge in time of 5 minutes, 9 seconds. If she kept that advantage, 400 points more would accrue for the fastest time for 90 miles.
Dan Arena knew all this as the third heat started; so did Lombardo.
Arena knew he had to win the heat to get 400 points, had to set a boat record to get more and had to make the fastest time for the race to get 400 more. If he could do all these things, the Gold Cup was his. Lombardo would get 300 points just for finishing second in the heat; any of the 400-point awards would assure him the cup. The chances were all against Arena and his Golden Gate, but he gave the boat everything the hull would take from the 12-cylinder Allison motor under her deck.
To the amazement of the many, the Golden Gate performed better at speeds of 70 miles and more than she had when she was finishing second in the second heat at 65 mph and second in the first heat at 57 mph. The hull could take it; the motor could not.
A leaking oil line had cut down the Golden Gate's speed in the first two heats and the leak caused defeat. It was repaired and Arena virtually drove the boat to destruction in the last 30-mile run, a connecting rod letting go when it was a mile and a half from the finish on the tenth lap.
As Miss Golden Gate stopped in front of the Whittier, Lombardo's Tempo VI quickly closed the distance and finished the race practically alone.
"I knew Miss Golden Gate had to lap me twice to get those 400 bonus points for the 90 miles and I was making sure she didn't lap me even once," Lombardo said after the race.
Lombardo estimated he touched 100 miles an hour "in spots" but he said he never extended the motor that Harry Miller and Bill Myers of Detroit put into the hull 10 years ago; a motor incidentally that probably hasn't an original part in it.
"I think I could break Gar Wood's record of 124 miles an hour on a straightaway mile," Lombardo said.
Behind Lombardo's Tempo and finishing were Gibson Bradfield's Buckeye Baby, of Barnesville, O.; the Blitz II, driven by Bob Bogie, of Valley Forge Hospital, Saranac Lake, N.Y.; and Joe Van Blerk's Aljo V, of Freeport, N.Y.
One other boat challenged seriously for victory besides Miss Golden Gate. She was Miss Canada III, of Ingersoll, Ont., with Harold Wilson driving. Miss Canada started in the first elimination race with seven other boats, among them Miss Golden Gate.
For five laps Miss Canada led the fleet until her supercharger blew up on the sixth lap, near the Belle Isle Bridge. She was through and Miss Golden Gate won the first elimination.
Tempo VI had no trouble winning the second elimination from a field of eight boats.
These two victories threw Tempo VI and Miss Golden Gate into the second and third heats with four 225s, none of the latter having a chance if either of the leaders held up.
As already narrated, it was the Tempo VI which lasted out the race and became the 1946 winner of the Gold Cup.
The race was run without serious casualties, although a 725 Gold Cup entrant sank on the upper turn during the running of the second elimination. Louis Schaefer, pilot, and George Schram, mechanic, were picked up. Schaefer suffered a lacerated hip and was given first aid. The mechanic was not hurt.
(Reprinted from the Detroit News, September 3, 1946)
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