1951 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 4, 1951
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 runs97.826 m.p.h. for a three-mile lap, 91.766 m.p.h. for the 30-mile heat.
But 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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