1950 Silver Cup
Detroit River, Detroit MI, September 4, 1950
Such Crust l Wins Silver Cup
Races for the O. J. Mulford Memorial Trophy, or Silver Cup, each year bring to the Detroit River just about the best of the season's unlimited class racing. The 1950 version—held on September 4—outdid all its predecessors by drawing a large field, yielding a page of startling new records and producing a protest rhubarb of gale force. When the checkered flag fell for the last time—and not until then—it turned out that the victory went to Jack Schafer's Such Crust I, driven on this occasion by Danny Foster.
John Mulford, donor of the trophy, planned this year's contest as a series of five ten-nautical-mile heats. He intended these sprint races, each of two laps around the Harmsworth course, to allow the boats to run faster, last longer and provide the crowds with more action than in one long parade. On the basis of the final results, this intention was certainly fulfilled.
Nine unlimited craft appeared for the first of the 10-mile sprints: Stanley Sayres' Slo-Mo-Shun IV driven by Lou Fageol; Jack Schafer's two boats—Such Crust I with Danny Foster driving and the "II" steered by Dan Arena; Albin Fallon's Miss Great Lakes, piloted by Bill Muncey; My Darling, owned and driven by Andy Marcy; Bill Cantrell at the wheel of Horace Dodge's My Sweetie; Tempo VI; , driven by owner Guy Lombardo; U-99 [Miss Pepsi (2)], owned by Dossin Bros. and driven by Chuck Thompson, and J. A. Schoenith's Gale, boasting Gene Arena as skipper.
The fleet poured down for the start of the first heat, closely bunched, with Thompson leading and moving fast. Just before they reached the 500 foot buoy, Slo-Mo-Shun literally flew onto the scene' from the inside of the course and left the whole bunch in her wake as Fageol turned on a few extra miles an hour.
When they came into view going down the backstretch, Slo-Mo-Shun had opened a nice lead over U-99 and was pulling steadily away from the Thompson-driven craft. Some of the experts were loudly predicting that the complexion of things would change at the big turn near the Belle Isle Bridge. The conventional vee-bottom hydro hull of the Dossin entry, they said, would let her take the corner so much faster than the Seattle three-pointer that the race would be over then and there.
Possibly these observers had failed to tell Fageol that Slo-Mo-Shun couldn't turn—or perhaps they had failed to check the two craft with a stop-watch as they made trial runs around that bend. At any rate, the Sayres boat held her own, or even improved her lead around the buoys.
Slo-Mo-Shun wheeled that first lap at the astonishing speed of 106.175 m.p.h. Fageol could see that he had a reasonable lead at this juncture, and cut down somewhat. As a result, Slo-Mo rounded the second circuit at 102.524 and received the checkered flag for a heat average of 104.318. This was not only the fastest race in history, but it was run on a course that was whipped to a nasty heavy chop by a brisk cross-wind.
U-99 took second place at a speed of 96.772, followed by Such Crust I, Such Crust II, My Sweetie, My Darling, Tempo and Gale—in that order. Fallon's old campaigner, Miss Great Lakes, disintegrated under Bill Muncey on the second lap and disappeared beneath the waters of the Detroit River, shortly after the finish Sayres announced that an ailing shaft bearing would prevent his boat's competing in later heats. Lou Fageol later told this reporter that a water line feeding the whip-strut bearing had parted and that he had driven the first heat with a boat partly filled with water.
At the start of the second Silver Cup heat, U-99 led all the contenders over the line and held her initial lead to the finish. Sweetie called it a day and pulled into the pits on the second lap. An unofficial report to the committee indicated that U-99 had missed two buoys in her victorious tour. Thompson was consulted and readily admitted that he had, stating that he had been unable to see them for the oil spraying in his face. Thereupon the Dossin entry was disqualified and lost her points for the second heat. This made Such Crust I the winner, with the remaining places going to Crust II, Tempo, Gale and My Darling.
Thus with two of the five races over, it boiled down to the fact that all Foster had to do was place Such Crust I no lower than second in the remaining sprints and no one would be able to beat him to the trophy.
The third race was uneventful except that Thompson again cut a buoy, but this time returned and rounded the corner properly. Running at a lap speed consistently above 100, U-99 came on to win, trailed by Crust I, Crust II, Tempo and Gale. My Darling gave up the ghost during this heat. When the times had been computed, it was found that Such Crust I had joined the exclusive circle of those boats which had turned 100-mile-an-hour laps—her first having been at 100.827.
The fourth heat was the slowest of the day, being taken by U-99 at the comparatively conservative speed of 95.537. Foster picked up another of the seconds he so dearly needed and Crust II and Tempo accounted for the third and fourth spots.
The final heat turned out to be a thriller. Thompson set out to show the crowd what U-99 could do to the records when turned loose. Her two Allisons screaming, the new Hacker job flew around the first lap at 107.136 and capped that with a second turn at 107.654—10 nautical miles at an average of 107.394. Here were lap and heat records that topped them all. Meanwhile Arena had jumped into second spot and threatened to beat the other Schafer boat out of her chance at the trophy. It wasn't until well along in the second lap that Foster was able to push Such Crust I ahead of her team-mate. From there he came on to collect the points necessary to capture the Silver Cup.
Immediately after the finish Walter Dossin protested the disqualification of his boat claiming that the buoys were improper, and made a statement to the press that he would withdraw from boat racing unless his stand was upheld.
The committee rejected his protest.
Between Silver Cup heats, the minute 48 cubic inch hydros competed for their National Championships. Winner in straight heats was Miss Fort Pitt II driven by Tony Margio, of Harrisburg, Pa. Second spot went to Fred Alter 's Fancy Pants of Detroit and third to another home-towner, E. H. Barkham steering Sharpshooter. A total of 11 boats received points for competing in this class.
A new idea in racing was presented by the Limited Hydroplane Free-For-All. In this event the 135 and 225 Div. II boats were started together and 15 seconds later the 225 Div. I and 7 liters were turned loose.
Bob Luekendoff steered the little 135 Miami Boy home in front of large fields in both squadrons in all three heats.
His best time on the rough course was 70.699 m.p.h. in the second race. Disqualification for cutting a buoy in the first heat cost Luekendoff victory in his class, dropping Miami Boy to second behind Dick Ranken in Hi Ball.
Div. II 225 honors went to Don Campbell in Miss Delhi Hills, with Chuck Hunter taking a second in Miss Columbus. Lou Butler's Barracuda won the 225 Div. I money, beating out Wally Harper in Miss Detroit. Ray Fageol in So Long was the only 7 liter driver to collect any points.
[Reprinted from Yachting, October, 1950, pp.67, 95-6]
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