1950 Buffalo Launch Club Regatta
Niagara River, Buffalo NY, August 20, 1950
Van Blerck and Lombardo Register Victories in Buffalo Speed-Boat Regatta
BUFFALO, NY, Aug. 20  -- A pair of Long Islanders from Freeport, where they are neighbors near enough to help each other with their racing rigs, borrow spare parts and lent tools in emergencies, today completely stole the regatta show in the finale of the Buffalo Launch Club's two-day meet.
Joseph Van Blerck Jr., veteran pilot in his own name and scion of a family that pioneered in making engines at Detroit and elsewhere in early automotive days, is carrying back home tonight the national championship of speedboat's seven-liter class.
His steady, reliable Aljo, which last week won the Cambridge Gold-Cup in Southern Maryland, captured both rough water heats for the national title with hundreds of yards of open water to spare in from of Oliver Elam of Ashland, KY in his Mercury.
Harmsworth Bid Filed
An hour later, in his re-conditioned and altered Tempo VI, which is now running so fast and promisingly that he has filed official entry papers for the Harmsworth elimination trial this week when the defending American team will be selected, Guy Lombardo gave his rooster tail wash to an imposing fleet of Gold Cuppers and other assorted craft to win the feature even for unlimiteds by nearly a mile.
His 1,710-cubic-inch Allison engine far outpowers, of course, Aljo's 414 cubic inches but it was his long time friend, Van Blerck, who finished second when better boats were out maneuvered around the oval and were left behind to limp back to the pits.
Lombardo's victory was in a single heat of 15 miles on a rough and rugged waterway churned into wicked waves when the five-mile current of the Niagara River, as it rushed toward the famous falls, bucked a fresh upstream wind. It was no racing day for sissies, as boats jumped clear of the rive like untamed bronchos in a Cheyenne rodeo and as bruised drivers were whipped up and down like jumping jacks in their little cockpits.
Third place went to the speedy displacement craft from Detroit, Sister Syn, once of the Horace E. Dodge fleet and now handled and piloted by his brother-in-law, Bob Petz of Grosse Point. An out-classed 225 boat, Bob Schroeder's My Ambition, came in fourth and an even more outclassed runabout, Al Endres' Sour Puss, finished fifth in a race intended only for the regatta giants.
One of them, Joe Schoenith's Gale, a Gold Cup craft from Detroit, driven by Gene Arena, and once known as Notre Dame when owned by Herb Mendelson, was an also ran, unable to finish. Another unable to take the punishment was Elam's Mercury.
Lombardo hits 66.561 mph
Lombardo's time in the swirling rough water was a respectable 13:31.3 for a speed of 66.561 mph.
Van Blerck, in winning the first heat for the seven-liter championship, hoisted a new world competitive ten-mile record to a speed of 61.94 mph as he left Elam behind in second place.
Ray Fageol of Kent, OH in So Long was riding in third place when two or three bottom planks pounded loose. As he turned off the course toward the club pits he sank as the hoisting crane was about to lift him clear.
Van Blerck's victory was not without its handicaps. In the first heat a square hole mysteriously appeared on his starboard sponson from the rough going and Aljo probably had nearly a ton of river water an un-needed ballast by the finish. Mechanics made emergency repairs between heats and Van Blerck came out for the final circuits with a bright new jury patch where the hole was.
|Final Results - Unlimited Hydroplanes|
|1.||G-13||Tempo VI||Guy Lombardo||Freeport, LI|
|2.||Aljo||Joe Van Blerck||Freeport, LI|
|3.||G-30||Sister Syn||Bob Petz||Grosse Pointe, MI|
|4.||My Ambition||Bob Schroeder||North Tonawanda, NY|
|5.||Sour Puss||Al Endres||Grand Island, NY|
|DNF||Mercury||Oliver Elam||Ashland KY|
|Speed: 66.561 mph|
(Reprinted from the New York Times August 21, 1950)
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