1949 Imperial Gold Cup
New Martinsville, West Virginia, September 25, 1949

In The Spotlight At New Martinsville, W. Va.
By Edison Hedges

Above: Frank Foulke, whose Sagana set four records and took Class D— Racing Runabouts

Left: Sherm Critchfield of Miami Beach, Florida, Class E winner, Racing Runabouts

Lower Left: Les Trafton came from St. Petersburg to top Class C— Racing Runabouts

Below: Eddie Hedges' Red Eagle led the service classes until engine trouble developed

[NOTE: Photos not yet available.  --LF]

Between 25,000 and 30,000 spectators lined the banks of the Ohio at New Martinsville, West Virginia, Sunday, September 25, 1949, for the 10th annual regatta. It was by far the largest crowd ever to witness the colorful event.

The Magnolia Yacht Club, which sponsors the regatta, wound up with a grand total of 90 boats entered. They came from all over the country—as far south as St. Petersburg, Florida, as far north as Detroit, as far east as Baltimore, as far west as Long Beach, California.

Four of the entries were withdrawn after the boats came to New Martinsville. That made a total of 86 boats running, the biggest field ever.

Only one record was set in competition during the races. W. Reese Layton, Baltimore, driving Yellow Jacket, a 48-inch runabout, sent the little boat skittering around the course at 42.795 miles an hour to set the new mark. The next morning, Jane Layton, driving Yellow Jacket, Jr., the same kind of boat, broke her husband's mark by going at 44.888 miles an hour over the mile trial course. Layton held his record less than 24 hours before his wife broke it.

Three other records were put in the book during the mile trials on Monday. Lou Fageol, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, sent So Long, a seven-liter boat, zooming over the course at 93.023 miles an hour, breaking the old mark by more than two miles an hour.

Leslie Trafton, St. Petersburg. Fla., drove his C-racing boat, Tornado; at 61.224 miles an hour for a new mark, and George Trimper, Buffalo, New York, hung up a record in Mischief, a C-service racer.

These marks will be official, since the course had the sanction of the American Power Boat Association. Longines stop-watches were used in timing both the races and the mile trials.

A number of accidents occurred during the regatta. Psst, a 135-cubic inch hydroplane owned by Albert R. D'Eath, went "pfft". It was destroyed by fire. A spark under the hood ignited the Combustible alcohol, benzol and gasoline fumes. Difficulty in extinguishing the fire arose because the hatch over the motor was bolted down, instead of snapped on as is usually the case. Also, the first fire extinguisher rushed out to the burning boat didn't have any fluid. The driver didn't help matters any by pouring water on the fire, which simply spread the flames.

Miss Pepsi, one of the Gold Cup boats entered, was damaged and ran only one heat. The beautiful big boat had its hull smashed when it was being pulled out of the water. Miss Pepsi had been in the water warming up before the first race, when it was decided to pull the boat out for an inspection. Three cables — brought along with the boat — were used to haul it out. One was fastened to the bow and two to the stern. While the boat was hanging in the air, the forward cable broke, smashing the hull against the concrete wall of the dam, where the pits for the big boats were located. Then the two aft cables broke and the stern end of the boat dropped against, the corner of a maneuvering boat.

Miss Pepsi ran in the first heat anyway, but placed third and was pulled out of the water for good. The hull will have to be rebuilt.

Honker, owned by Key Wallace, Cambridge, Md., overturned at the lower end of the course, but was towed in.


1. Service runabouts, D. E, and F. Joe Mascari, Floral Park. N. N.. won class F. with Cary,. Howard Durm, Annapolis, Md., won class D. with Cry Baby. R. A. Dowdy, Grandy, N. C., took class E honors with Peggy.

2. Division I, 225's. World Trophy Race. Won on points by Norman Lauderbach, Absecon, N. J.. driving Aguila, at a top speed of 68.860. Frank Foulke was second with Sagana. Joe Ballouz, New Martinsville, placed in two heats with Aching Tooth.

3. Class Z and Y. Layton driving Yellow Jacket, won the class Z. Amodo Tanela, Washington, D. C., took the Y class with Joy.

4. Class B and C racing runabouts and P. 0. D. Les Trafton, St. Petersburg, won class C honors with Tornado. William A. Tieman, Wyoming, Del., won the P. 0. D., division with Here’s Me. Edward Hahn, Egg Harbor, N. J., won the class B with Bebop.

5. Viking Trophy Race, for 135's, won by Bob Leuchtenhoff, Dearborn, Mich., with Miami Boy. John Cramer, Dayton. Ohio, was second with Skid-Do.

6. Seven-liter race. So-Long, driven by Lou Fageol, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, first; Mercury, driven by Oliver M. Elam, Ashland, Ky., second.

7. Div. II, 225's, for the Paden City Trophy. Won by Jerry Powell, Richmond, Va., driving Skee-Daddle. Bruce Smith, Cincinnati, driving Frankie's Boy, was second.

8. Racing runabouts, D and E. Sherman Critchfield, St. Petersburg, driving Hell's Angel, won class E honors, and Frank Foulke, driving Sagana won class D.

9. Imperial Gold Cup race. Horace Dodge, with My Sweetie, took the trophy on points. Such Crust, owned by Jack Schaefer of Detroit was second. Each boat won one heat and placed second in another, but My Sweetie was half-a-mile faster in the race. In time trials Monday, however, Such Crust hit 118 miles an hour, while the best My Sweetie could do was 114.

Schaefer commented, "I guess that settles that argument" His boat holds the American mile record of better than 126 miles an hour.

(Reprinted from Motor Boating, December 1949)

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, 2006