1952 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 9, 1952
Like varicolored lava, the horde flowed over Seattle's hills, down to the shore front, over the decks of hundreds of moored pleasure craft, and across the white-pontooned floating bridge (the world's largest) on Lake Washington. Police estimated that 250,000 persons, the greatest sports crowd in Pacific Northwest turned out for last week's 45th annual Gold Cup speedboat race. And never in the annals of this expensive event, had so many spectators acted as if they owned a couple of the big, howling hydroplane jobs out on the cup course.
By voluntary contributions ranging from a nickel to several hundred dollars, Seattle residents had raised $37,656 (with another $20,000 expected from the buttonholing of race spectators) to cover the operating expenses of the Seattle entrants: defending champion Slo-mo-shun V and former champion Slo-mo-shun IV, both owned by a home-town auto dealer, Stanley Sayres. An Eastern challenger Wild Bill Cantrell, was appalled by the civic demonstration: "with the whole town subsidizing those boats, we'll be lucky if we ever get the cup back to Detroit (where Sayres won it in 1950).
Cantrell and the two other Detroit qualifiers in the six-boat field meant to do some ganging up of their own in the race itself. "This time," Cantrell promised, "we're going to race as a team. The Slo-mos have gone a long time without any mechanical trouble and we're going to go at them one by one and try to burn 'em out." Before the end of this extraordinary day, however, nearly everyone was out.
In the first heat (ten laps around a 3-mile course) Slo-mo IV lost a propeller in the fifth lap. A lap later, Slo-mo V's cup defense ended when she blew a cylinder under the pressing pursuit of Chuck Thompson in Detroit's 10,500-pound Miss Pepsi, which finished the 30-mile run with a record speed average of 101.024 miles and hour.
Detroiters had little time to gloat, At the very first turn in the second head their Such Crust IV blew up, tossing skipper Cantrell high into the air and then into a hospital, where burns kept him in surgery for 2 hours and 40 minutes, A minute later, the brutish Miss Pepsi went out for the day with a shattered gear box. The other Detroit boat, Miss Great Lakes II, was already out, A Los Angeles entrant, Hurricane IV, hadn't even been able to start the second heat. When the mended Slo-mo-shun IV (holder of the world straightaway speed record of 160.3235 miles and hour) was driven across the finish line by Stanley Dollar, she was the only boat left on the course.
For the third and final heat, Sayres' boat had only one opponent, Hurricane, which lasted only three laps. To score the two heat victories that kept the cup in Seattle for another year, skipper Dollar needed simply to keep Slo-mo IV in one piece by nursing her home at average speeds of 75.49 and 84.35 miles and hour.
Despite the lame finish, the rich baker who owns Such Crust IV concluded that the crowd must have got all the excitement it wanted. "I just heard," Jack Schafer said, "that four pregnant women in the crowd had miscarriages."
(Reprinted from Newsweek August 18, 1952)