1950 APBA Unlimited Trophy
Lake Mead, Boulder City NV, November 11-12, 1950
New World Mark Set in Regatta on Lake Mead
Boulder City, November 13, 1950 -- With one world record established, several others threatened, unbelievable demonstrations of speeds close to the world record 160 miles per hour pace by the Gold Cup unlimited craft, and several heart tingling accidents, none serious, the fifth annual Lake Mead speedboat regatta, Saturday and Sunday, was acclaimed an overwhelming success.
A field of nearly 250 boats and drivers, including nearly a score of world record holders, battled through a two-day program of 36 events. Record crowds were on hand both days, the Saturday crowd turnout being estimated in excess of 12,000 and Sunday's gathering at between 20,000 and 25,000. The eighteen different classes of competition included both inboard and outboard speedsters ranging from the tiny Class M outboard hydroplanes with their 30 pound hull limit and 7.5 cubic inch pistons, to the massive 3000-horsepower speed juggernauts of the unlimited Gold Cup class which tossed the lake waters into towering wakes as they hit close to the 160 mile and hour mark on the straightaways.
Although several world marks were missed by seconds, only one was erased. It came Saturday afternoon in the first heat of zipping little class B racing inboard runabouts when the winner, Pete Coffee, of Los Barios piloted his Vina Mae III, paced a close field over the five-mile course to top his own previous record. His time, 5 minutes, 26.1 seconds, gave him an average speed of 55.181 miles per hour. His old mark, 53.066 miles an hour, was topped by the second and third place boats, Spare Parts II driven by Earl Sherman, Jr. of San Pablo at 53.286 and Wee Willie piloted by Jack Kelley of Oildale, California, at 53.160.
The biggest disappointment came when two of the three Gold Cuppers, racing west of Detroit for the first time, cracked up with serious mechanical mishaps on Saturday.
Stan Sayres' Slo-Mo-Shun IV, the hold of the world's speed record at 160.320 miles an hour, showed the Saturday crowd just why it was the "queen" of the super-speedsters in the first fifteen mile heat when it snatched the lead at the start from Such Crust II and My Sweetie. It won the heat going away with My Sweetie 200 yards behind.
The first blow fell in the initial lap of this heat when Such Crust II, sent overland with its three-man crew by Jack Schafer, Detroit bakery owner, suddenly went dead on the back stretch. It was learned from Danny Foster, the pilot, that it had thrown a piston which had gone clear through the head of its Allison aircraft engine.
Hardly had this became known when the Slo-Mo-Shun IV ran into its bad luck. With Ted Jones throwing up a roostertail of water 50 feet high behind as he zoomed the straightaways close to 160 miles an hour, the champion again was leading My Sweetie when it suddenly slowed and drifted wide on the north turn during the fourth lap, My Sweetie zooming through to a hollow win of the heat.
That left Horace Dodge's beautiful Allison-powered national sweepstakes titlist at Red Bank, My Sweetie, the only one of the unlimiteds left in the running for the $2500 American Power Boat Championship Trophy. Rather than disappoint the Sunday crowd, owners of two of the 225's, the next fastest class, agreed to run the two 15-mile heats in order to furnish a speed comparison and pick up the prize awards for second and third in the division.
Elmer Enquist, of Petaluma, in his Firefly and Lon Graditi, of Oakland, in the Californian served as the "examples," with Bill Cantrell at My Sweetie's wheel in the first session, loafing along beside Enquist for a couple of laps and then turning on the speed, running out the final four, two-mile circuits while the smaller boats were not much more than making one round, finished, ran an extra round and pulled down the shore out of sight before the smaller craft ended their third circuit.
(Reprinted from the Las Vegas Review Journal November 13, 1950)
[Thanks to Ted Shenenberg for help in preparing this page --LF]
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