1950 APBA Unlimited Trophy
Lake Mead, Boulder City NV, November 11-12, 1950
Records Fall In Western Racing (excerpt)
Two hundred of the finest racing outfits in the country converged on Lake Mead, Nev., on November 11 and 12 for the fifth annual running of the Lake Mead Sweepstakes Regatta. The Boulder City Jay Cees, sponsoring 38 heats of racing, mile trials and the A.P.B.A. Annual Meeting, ran off their heavy schedule successfully except that mile trials had to be cancelled because of rough water and sabotage to the communication system.
The Unlimited Hydro Race for the A.P.B.A. Unlimited Cup came apart at the seams after a couple of heats. Present were Horace Dodge's My Sweetie, Jack Schafer's Such Crust II and Stan Sayres' Slo-Mo-Shun IV. Bill Cantrell, driving the Dodge boat, had made changes since the close of the Eastern Circuit which would improve her performance. Danny Foster drove for Schafer who was obviously out after the scalp of the Seattle boat, having installed 800 more horses in Such Crust II just for this trip. Sayres' world champion, with designer Ted Jones at the wheel, was as usual in top shape, but was entering the contest with a handicap in that she had only one prop shaft and that an improvised one. Sayres ran the event under protest, stating that he had not been advised of the change from an originally-announced 5 mile course to a 25-mile and hence did not have his gear ratio or prop set up for the shorter run.
The three boats got away to a good start and Slo-Mo-Shun IV took the lead at the first turn. Thundering down the backstretch at a terrific rate, Such Crust II was the first casualty with a broken shaft. As the motor wound up tight, the Rolls Royce power plant bent a couple of valves and was out for good. Jones kept a steady lead to win the heat, with Cantrell in My Sweetie trailing.
The second of the 15-mile heats started off with Jones again in command and he immediately poured on the coal but came to grief with a broken shaft after several laps, leaving the contest to My Sweetie which limped around the final three laps, missing badly. The following day two of the 225 fleet—Elmer Enquist in his Firefly and Lon Graditi in his Californian—entered the third heat, having only to last out the two heats to collect the second and third place trophies, and with the further chance of knocking off the A.P.B.A. Cup if My Sweetie should fail to finish. Cantrell had the Dodge boat running well now and finished out the last two heats with an occasional fast lap. And so ended the A.P.B.A. Unlimited Race.
Competition in every one of the 17 scheduled classes of inboards and outboards was heated. Only one record fell by the board as Pete Coffee from Los Banos, California, raised his own 5-mile competition mark established at Lake Yosemite earlier in the season. Driving Ed Parsley's National Champion B Racing Inboard Runabout Vine Mae III Pete averaged 55.181 m.p.h. It was in this race that Julius Jensen from Freeport, L.I., was thrown from his boat Can Do Too right after the start of the race, fortunately escaping with only a ducking.
The 135 fleet, 20 strong, included the very hottest stuff from every part of the country and by mutual agreement of officials and contestants the fleet was divided into two elimination heats with the fastest five boats from each heat to have it out in the finals. It was a fortunate decision for even with the split field there was plenty of trouble. In the first heat Thom Cooper from Kansas City, driving Pops Tops, hit a roller in the back stretch while leading the pack and was thrown from his boat which lost a sponson in the melee. Cooper escaped with a badly cut face which required stitches and the world record holder Roy Skaggs went on to win the heat. The second heat went to Tommy Caldwell in his Blue Blazes II without event. Lightning struck again in the final heat as all ten boats hit the line in a mad battle to lead into the first turn of the 25-mile course. Just a thousand feet past the starting line the fleet hit another roller and Skaggs and Rich Hallett were thrown from their boats, both of which idled around the course until run down by the patrol boats. In some miraculous manner the other drivers missed the men in the water and both were pulled out, Skaggs with a badly bruised and sprained leg and Hallett with torn tendons that required a cast.
Inboard records for 5 miles in competition:
B racing runabout-55.181 m.p.h. by Vina Mae III [1-B] owned by Ed Parsley, of Los Banos, Cal., at Lake Mead on Nov. 11. Previous record-53.239 m.p.h.
[Reprinted from Yachting, January, 1951, pp. 94-5]
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