1951 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 4, 1951

Death at Seattle

bullet The 1951 Gold Cup Remembered
bullet Sayres Readies Boat for Defense of Gold Cup in Seattle Race
bullet Nation's Top Racers to Invade Seattle
bullet New Slo-Mo-Shun May Be Ready For August Races
bullet Can They Beat "Slo-Mo-Shun IV"?
bullet Are the Big-name Racing Boats Challenging with Revised Hulls?
bullet Just Two Boats Qualify
bullet Set Speed-boat Record
bullet 100 mph Record for Dossins' Craft
bullet Miss Pepsi Chief Threat in Gold Cup
bullet "Slo-Mo V" Roars to Gold Cup's Fastest Win
bullet Slo-Mo-Shun V Wins Gold Cup At Seattle
bullet Pilot and Mechanic Killed As Gold Cup Race Boat Sinks
bullet Cup Racer Called a "Runaway" Boat
bullet Gold Cup Rules Changed
bullet Safety Committee Named
bullet Death at Seattle
bullet Quicksilver (from This is Hydroplaning)
bullet Statistics

In the qualifying heat of motorboating's classic Gold Cup race at Seattle last week, Driver Orth Mathiot barely managed to make the minimum 65 m.p.h. speed in his blue-grey Quicksilver, a sleek, new. 31-foot hydroplane. Devil-may-care Mathiot, a Portland, Ore. tugboat operator, was not really expecting Quicksilver to win the cup. Neither were Seattle's boat-racing fans, who turned out at nearby Lake Washington to cheer their hometown entry, Slo-mo-shun V, which set two records in the first of three final runs—97.826 m.p.h. for a three-mile lap, 91.766 m.p.h. for the 30-mile heat.

QuicksilverBut Skipper Mathiot wasn't complaining. While Slo-mo-shun V also took the second heat. Mathiot and Crewman Tom Whitaker sat it out in the pit, working on the balky engine. "Aw, we're in this race for fun," said Mathiot. "What the hell."

Back for the final heat. he gave 250,000 spectators a thrill by whipping so narrowly past the observation barge that newsmen aboard could count the stitches on his lifebelt. Then, 300 yards past the barge, Quicksilver began the turn. Suddenly the big hydroplane flipped over, vanished in a geyser of white spray. When the mist settled, only flotsam remained-a few splinters of grey plywood, a seat cushion, one shoe with a sock still inside.

Horrified race officials ran up a red flag, fired their signal cannon. After ten minutes Slo-mo-shun V's winning driver. Lou Fageol, finally spotted the wave-downs, eased his boat alongside the barge. Two hours later, divers found the body of Orth Mathiot, next day brought up what was left of Tom Whitaker.

(Reprinted from Time, August 13, 1951)

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Leslie Field, 2000