1950 Harmsworth Trophy
Detroit River, Detroit MI, September 1-2, 1950
Slo-Mo-Shun IV Wins Harmsworth Race
Another impressive honor has been earned by the fabulous Seattle boat, Slo-Mo-Shun IV, in winning the British International (Harmsworth) Trophy in Detroit, Michigan, September 1 and 2. This was an international challenge race and was first put up by its sponsor to determine the fastest racing boat in the world under competitive competition.
Slo-mo-shun IV easily earned that title on the Detroit River course where earlier she had beaten the fastest boats in the United States in the Gold Cup Race. Officially tagged as the world's fastest boat, there is no doubt that there is any boat in the world that can catch her either on the straightaway or on a racing course.
Challenging for the Harmsworth trophy this year was Miss Canada IV, double-step hydroplane driven by Harold Wilson, Ingersoll, Ontario. Power was Rolls Royce Griffon engine rated at 2850 hp, and she has been clocked on the straightaway at almost 139 mph.
Representing the American team defending the trophy, wrested from England by Gar Wood and last year defended by R. Stanley Dollar, Jr.'s Skip-A-Long, was an American team of three boats.
First boat chosen for the American team was Stanley S. Sayre's Slo-mo-shun IV. With Sayres at the wheel and Ted Jones, the designer, riding beside him, the Seattle boat qualified at 96.72 mph. My Sweetie, owned by Horace Dodge, Detroit, qualified for the U. S. team with an average of 94.51 mph. This boat is a double-stepped hydroplane. Such Crust II, a three-pointer owned by Jack Schafer of Detroit and driven by Dan Arena, qualified at 88.94 mph.
Driver of the Slo-Mo-Shun was Lou Fageol, a Kent, Ohio, auto manufacturer, and one of the nation's ace drivers. He was chosen to drive the Slo-mo-shun IV after Ted Jones, the brilliant young designer of Slo-mo-shun IV, was injured in several mishaps.
The week before the race, Jones broke his wrist. On the day before the race Jones and Joe Schobert, his mechanic, were making a practice run down the river at 157 mph when they hit the wake of a cruiser which had veered into the course. The boat leaped high into the air and came clown to rock dangerously on its sponsons but righted herself.
Schobert was thrown into the air but fell on Jones, injuring Jones' arm further. Schobert suffered an injured back. Except for a slightly bent rudder, the boat was uinjured. Anchor Jensen, builder of the boat, quickly made repairs.
Fageol took the wheel at the big race the next day, driving alone. The U. S. selection committee had asked the U. S. drivers to act as a team, striving to get ahead of the challenger and then to maintain their positions. This order was obeyed and the resulting race offered no thrills to the spectators.
Slo-mo-shun IV circled the five-mile course eight times at an average speed of 91.127 mph. She finished about two and one-half miles ahead of My Sweetie and Such Crust, who came in second and third, and about three miles in front of the Canadian boat.
Following the race, Ernest A. Wilson, Harold Wilson's father, announced that Miss Canada would not continue her challenge.
"Harold nearly broke his neck on the upper turn when the steering gear collapsed and the boat spun on him. He managed to finish the race by holding onto a bracket with one hand and the wheel with the other. In addition, Miss Canada's deck planking was smashed when she hit a wave and her keelson was badly cracked," he said.
With Mike Welsh riding with him the second day, Fageol made boating history by establishing a record time for the 40 miles of 100.680 mph. No speedboat has ever before been driven that fast over a competitive course.
My Sweetie dropped out with oil line trouble after a lap and one half. Such Crust II finished the race, but was lapped by Slo-mo-shun IV the sixth time around.
Lou Fageol had only been in the Seattle boat once when he took it out. He did a perfect job of driving, and his starts were well-timed and put him in the lead from the start.
He reported that the Slo-mo-shun was a pleasure to drive.
The exploits of the Seattle-built and owned boat will bring both the Gold Cup and Harmsworth trophies to Seattle. Races for these most prized trophies of the speedboating world will come under the sponsorship of the Seattle Yacht Club.
In addition to raising the world speed record for unlimited hydroplanes to 160.3235 mph Slo-mo-shun IV has a number of noteworthy firsts to her credit.
- She is the first boat ever to win the Gold Cup on the first try.
- She is the first boat ever to win the Harmsworth and the Gold Cup.
- She is the first racing boat to run a lap in a competitive race at 100 mph or more.
- She is the first racing boat to run a heat in any race at 100 mph or more.
(Reprinted from Sea and Pacific Motor Boat, October 1950)
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