1950 APBA Unlimited Trophy
Lake Mead, Boulder City NV, November 11-12, 1950
The Fifth Annual Lake Mead Regatta
|Cruising along easily at 85 miles an hour is Bill Cantrell of Detroit, Michigan, in Horace Dodge's unlimited hydroplane, My Sweetie|
The fifth annual Lake Mead Regatta was sponsored as in past years by the Boulder City Jay Cees with Bob Cary serving as general regatta chairman. The Jay Cees, who have a flawless record for their regatta arrangements, had their hands full with all of the details for the annual meeting of the A.P.B.A. and the big regatta as well and as usual they did a letter perfect job. This was the first time that mile trials have been scheduled for Lake Mead. This big hunk of water in Boulder Basin behind the mammoth Hoover Dam refused to glass over smooth enough for mile trial speeds although ideal for the competition racing. A capacity crowd numbering high in the thousands, the largest to over attend a marine event in Nevada, jammed every inch of Boulder Beach and was treated to the hottest racing ever seen in the west.
The weather was ideal during Saturday's 19 heats and held good until late Sunday afternoon, when the committee cancelled out three heats as the big lake picked up a mean chop in an afternoon breeze.
* * *
The big event of the regatta was the Unlimited Hydroplane four-heat race for the A.P.B.A. Unlimited Cup, one of the most beautiful trophies in power boat racing. On hand to battle for the cup were Stan Sayres' Slo-Mo-Shun IV, the world record holder with Ted Jones doing the driving; Jack Schafer's Such Crust II with Danny Foster doing the driving; and Horace Dodge's My Sweetie with Bill Cantrell driving. This could have been the toughest race of the year as both of the Detroit owners were smarting from the beatings administered by Sayres' craft in the races at Detroit this year that saw the Seattle boat romp off with the Gold Cup and the Harmsworth trophy.
Before the trip to Lake Mead, Cantrell had made changes in My Sweetie calculated to improve the performance of this usually consistent campaigner, and Schafer had prepared for the attempt to take Sayres to the cleaners by increasing Such Crust II's horsepower by some 800 horses with the change from the Allison to the Rolls Royce Merlin. Slo-Mo-Shun IV came to the Lake Mead race, running as usual like the champion she is, but handicapped by having only one shaft with no spare available and this is what cost her the race. No one had seen Such Crust II in operation with her new power plant and it was a tense moment when during the warm up run Foster pulled up on Jones in the back stretch obviously challenging him to a speed test, a challenge which Jones immediately accepted. For just a few hundred yards the two big speedsters thundered and roared neck and neck down the straightaway at terrific speed with roostertails fanning out behind them for 1000 feet and then both slowed back down to warmup speed.
This was the only time that the crowd saw the two boats having it out and of course the results were not conclusive in any way. Sayres was running the race under protest with the statement that he had not been advised in advance that the course had been shortened to 2½ miles per lap in place of the 5 miles originally planned for the race and that in view of this his boat was equipped with a gear box ratio and propeller unsuited for the short course. If this combination had any effect on Slo-Mo-Shun IV's performance it certainly didn't show up in the race. The three boats got away to a beautiful start and Jones put the champion out in front at the first turn. In the back stretch Such Crust II, pouring on the coal to overtake the leader, twisted off her shaft and dropped from the race, out permanently with valves jammed into the head as the engine raced. Jones built up a comfortable lead over My Sweetie, which started to miss after several laps, and occasionally turned in a blistering lap at 90 miles an hour average to the edification of the spectators. In the second heat Jones again took the lead and built up his safe lead but dropped from the race after several laps when the shaft let go, leaving the heat to My Sweetie, now crooning along in good shape with her missing engine cured.
Here was the big trophy practically in the bag for Dodge's boat, but always there is a chance of breakdown so two of the 225's, Elmer Enquit's Firefly and Lon Graditi's Californian entered the contest with a sure thing for the second and third place trophies if they could last out the race. Fifteen miles is a long haul for a 225 which doesn't carry much gas capacity and doesn't get much mileage especially if burning fuel. With gas capacity the main problem the two 225's couldn't run at top speed because of high consumption at full throttle and so the final two laps became an endurance contest with the two smaller boats touring the course at a safe speed. It was a tedious ride for Cantrell, who occasionally turned in a furious lap to test out the big speedster and Horace Dodge took over the driving job for the final heat. Graditi took the second place on corrected time from Enquist and so ended the race with the A.P.B.A. Unlimited Cup in possession of Horace Dodge for the coming year.
(Reprinted from Pacific Motor Boat January 1951)
|1.||U-3||My Sweetie||Bill Cantrell and Horace Dodge|
|2.||Californian [225 class]||Lou Graditi|
|3.||Firefly [225 class]||Elmer Enquist|
|DNF||U-27||Slo-mo-shun IV||Ted Jones|
|DNF||U-11||Such Crust II||Danny Foster|
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