1952 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 9, 1952

Slo-Mo-Shun IV Wins 45th Gold Cup Race
Sayres' World Record Holder Outlasts Speedy Fleet
By W. Melvin Crook

bullet It Looks Like August is Set For Gold Cup Race
bullet Who Stands to Win the 1952 Gold Cup?
bullet Such Crust III Out of Gold Cup
bullet Gold Cup 1904-1952
bullet Miss Pepsi Speeds 103 MPH in Test
bullet Latest Dope on the Gold Cup
bullet Gold Cup Captured by Slo-Mo-Shun IV
bullet Slo-Mo-Shun IV wins 45th Gold Cup Race
bullet Slo-Mo-Shun IV Wins Again
bullet The Gold Cup Stays at Seattle
bullet Cantrell Recovering From Gold Cup Burns
bullet Community Project
bullet Slo-Mo-Shun IV, 118.491 MPH
bullet Statistics

1952 APBA Gold Cup, SeattleIt was a case of the hare playing tortoise on August 9th as Stan Sayres' world record holding Slo-Mo-Shun V outlasted rather than outsped the faltering competition to take the 1952 Gold Cup contest on Seattle's Lake Washington

Winner of the Cup in 1950, and officially the world's fastest boat, the IV qualified for this year's contest at a speed below the average of the field of six and more than 10 miles off the pace of the fastest contender. Yet, when the final flag was dropped, this famous Jones-Jensen creation, driven by Stanley Dollar, not only had won the greatest number of points, but was the only entrant still able to run.

Qualification trials, held earlier in the week of the race, produced a comparatively small fleet of contenders, but certainly the fastest in history. Chuck Thompson turned in the top qualifying speed when he wheeled the Dossin Brothers' big twin-engine, conventional hydro Miss Pepsi around the three laps at a new record speed of 103.746. This, coupled with Pepsi's long string of victories over the past two years, established her as the chief threat to Seattle.

Next fastest of the fleet turned out to be the 1951 winner, Stan Sayres' Slo-Mo-Shun V. Driven again this year by Lou Fageol, the defender made the starting field with a speed of 102.564.

More than 10 miles below Pepsi’s speed was that rung up by Sayres' other boat, Slo-Mo-Shun IV. With Stanley Dollar, Jr., at the wheel, this famous three-pointer was timed at 93.024. This relatively slow speed for a boat that holds a 178 m.p.h. world speed record caused many to suspect that the IV was assigned the task of taking it easy and being sure to finish the race while the V went out to set a blistering pace.

Jack Schafer's Such Crust IV, piloted by Bill Cantrell, narrowly missed eliminating herself during the qualifying trials. Early on her third and final lap, she suddenly stopped, her engine minus a connecting rod. At Cantrell’s request, the committee agreed to add his final warm-up lap to the first two qualifying circuits. These three consecutive rounds averaged out at 91.139 m.p.h.

Hurricane IV, Morlan Visel's three-pointer which started her first Gold Cup race back in 1948, was forced to take it easy while qualifying. With a new propeller shaft being fabricated, Visel decided to try the three laps at a conservative speed, using an old and somewhat battered shaft, rather than request a time extension. Even so, Hurricane driven by her owner, was clocked at 89.776.

Albin Fallon's Miss Great Lakes II, steered by Joe Taggart, was also held under wraps for the qualifying run. After several high-speed attempts had been terminated by backfiring and stalling, Taggart tried it at part throttle and made the grade at 88.888 m.p.h.

The six boats in this year's field had thus passed their tests at an average speed of 94.856, compared with the 84.724 of the ten-boat fleet that raced in 1951. Even more indicative of the quality of the current crop was the fact that the fastest qualifier had run but 15 miles faster than the slowest, whereas last year a 32 mile spread had existed. At the time set for the start of the first Gold Cup heat, Seattle was basking under a clear, hot sun. A slight haze hung over the placid water of the Lake Washington course. On shore, on the floating bridge, and on boats moored to an enormous log boom were crowded spectators in numbers estimated by police to exceed 300,000. They had started assembling at daylight on race day.

If the crowds were thrilled at the sight of the boats coming out for the start, they truly went wild at the appearance of "their" boats — the two Slo-Mos — which are now operated by a syndicate financed through contributions of Seattle's citizenry.

After briefly touring the course, the fleet split, part going north of the floating bridge to make a starting run through the span, the others approaching from around the north turn. As it developed, they were all a bit gun-shy and came down the Lake some five seconds late in a wild, fast dash. Both Slo-Mos and Pepsi hit the line together.

Hardly had the tail-enders passed the official barge when the leaders hit the first turn with Slo-Mo V in front and Pepsi close behind. Fageol kept the Sayres craft in front through the turn and opened a bit of a lead over Thompson in Miss Pepsi going down the backstretch. In third place, right on Pepsi's tail came Miss Great Lakes.

Fageol drove the north turn very wide and fast, while Thompson held the big Dossin boat close to the buoys all the way around. As they finished their first lap, the V held a 100-yard lead over Pepsi. Fageol's speed for those first three miles was 102.137, Thompson's 99.796. Great Lakes, Slo-Mo IV, Hurricane and Such Crust followed in that order. Dollar, in the IV, was having the roughest ride of all as he plugged along in the wakes of the leaders.

On the first turn of the second lap, Great Lakes dropped out, her gear box wrecked. Fageol continued to hold about a 100-yard lead over Thompson, as he took last year's winner abnormally wide and fast around the turns. The V's speed for the second lap was a shade over 102; Pepsi's half a mile slower.

On the third backstretch Fageol improved his lead a bit, but more than lost this new advantage in a wild skid around the turn. Thompson, on the inside, was almost even with Lou as they straightened out. On the fourth backstretch Pepsi pulled up rapidly on Slo-Mo V, only to have Fageol loose a few more of his Allison horses and streak ahead.

It was at this point that Fageol changed his tactics. Instead of driving the turn wide, he put the V in tight to the buoys. Thompson, expecting another of the wide skidding performances found himself in a position where he was the target for Slo-Mo's tremendous rooster-tail. The force of the water bashed in part of Pepsi's engine cowling. Chuck later told us that he was forced to cut his throttle sharply.

From that point on, Lou drove all turns tight and compelled Pepsi either to go outside or "get in line." The V maintained a lead of about 10 boat lengths. Throughout the third and fourth laps, the leaders ran between 100 and 102 m.p.h. Slo-Mo IV held down third place, followed by Hurricane and Such Crust.

Just as she crossed the finish line at the end of her fourth lap, Slo-Mo IV's engine suddenly raced and Dollar quickly shut her off and steered to a stop, amid the groans of her thousands of "owners." The world record-holder's prop had disappeared, leaving the nuts and even the key undamaged on the shaft.

The race continued unchanged, at the same mad pace until the leaders were on the first turn of their sixth lap. At this point they were rapidly overhauling Hurricane and Such Crust. As all hands wondered just how soon the slower boats would be lapped, a cry of anguish erupted from the hordes of Slo-Mo rooters. For the defending champion had slowed to family runabout speed. Pepsi whisked by the V and was off in the lead.

Thompson turned that sixth lap at 103.927, the fastest of the 45th Gold Cup Race. Fageol drove the V slowly around to the north end of the course and brought her up to the official barge where it could be seen that water was spurting from her starboard exhaust pipe. Bothered by high cooling temperatures from the start, Fageol had finally seen the gauges go right off the scale. Almost immediately the cylinder block cracked.

It was a greatly subdued crowd that watched Pepsi lap Hurricane and Such Crust on her seventh time around and go on to win the heat. Thompson's speed for the 30 miles was 101.024, almost 10 miles over the record set last year by Fageol in the V. Over a lap and a half behind came Hurricane. Visel, with an 86.318 average, led Cantrell home by 3/4 mile. Thompson ran a safety lap and stunned, bitter silence descended on Lake Washington.

Just before the start of the second heat, it was announced that Great Lakes was out of the race for good. Hurricane had experienced falling oil pressure during the first heat, but would run in the second. However, the Visel entry, resisted all attempts at starting and was still dead in the water when the starting gun was fired.

Some three minutes before starting time, a great roar went up from the crowd. They had spotted Dollar driving Slo-Mo IV through the span of the floating bridge. The famous Sayres crew had switched the prop from the V onto the IV.

Pepsi and Crust made their starts around the turn, while Dollar brought the IV through the bridge. As in the first heat, the start was late but fast. They roared over the line with Thompson in front, Dollar 75 yards astern and Cantrell a length or two behind Dollar:

As they stretched out with Pepsi leading slightly around the first turn, the little gremlin of tragedy which haunts Gold Cup Races crept into the power plant of Such Crust and turned loose a heavy explosion. Pieces of the boat flew into the air and Cantrell went over the side. At once flames sprang from Crust and a column of black, oily smoke rose into the still air. Cantrell was pulled aboard a rescue boat within 10 seconds. The Coast Guard patrol boat on the turn shot two red rockets warning of the danger.

Pepsi and Slo-Mo IV continued down the backstretch with Dollar pushing the Dossin craft hard. As the thousands of "partners" in Slo-Mo watched anxiously to see how their favorite would compare with Pepsi on the second turn, the big twin-Allison outfit slowed to a halt. Her gear box housing had come apart. The IV finished that first lap at an average of 96.84 m.p.h.

As Dollar and Slo-Mo continued, the only ones on the course, all eyes were on the Coast Guard's battle with the fire aboard Such Crust. By the time Dollar approached the fire, Cantrell was on his way to the hospital for treatment of second and third degree burns and Crust was well off the course. Nevertheless, the patrol boat shot two more red rockets.

Stan, feeling this might be part of the committee's announced mass-firing of red rockets as a stop-race signal, returned to the official barge for instructions. He was told to continue with the race.

Hurricane meanwhile had been towed to the pits where Visel and mechanic Wayne Thompson tackled her starting difficulties. Almost seven minutes after the start of the heat they succeeded in firing up the big Allison and Visel took off with Thompson still aboard. As Hurricane passed the committee barge Wayne jumped into the water and was hauled aboard the barge. Unfortunately for Visel the Gold Cup rules do not permit a boat to start later than five minutes after the start of a heat. At the suggestion of mechanic Thompson the committee flagged Hurricane off the course.

Dollar drove on to finish the second heat at an average speed of 75.49. and pick up 400 valuable points. At this point, with only two boats in running order, the point score situation and the many possible outcomes of the race had the crowd in a tizzy. The information was quickly passed to them that there could be no heat or contest bonus points awarded since no boat could possibly finish all three heats of the race. Slo-Mo IV and Pepsi were tied with 400 points each. Hurricane had 300 and Such Crust 225.

If Hurricane were to win the final heat with Slo Mo IV taking second, each would have 700 points. In such cases the boat which ran the fastest heat is declared the winner. Hurricane having averaged 86.318 in the first heat, compared with Slo-Mo's 75.49 in the second, Visel would thus take home the Cup.

On the other hand, if Slo-Mo could win the final heat, the Sayres craft would have 800 points against a maximum of 600 for Hurricane.

The real brain-twister was the possibility that neither Hurricane nor Slo-Mo could complete the final heat. Should that turn of events develop, the Sayres and Dossin entries would be tied at 400 each and the victory would go to Pepsi by virtue of her scorching first heat speed.

The story of the final heat is largely that of a triumphal solo tour of the 30 miles. True it is that Hurricane appeared for the start. She came from the pits and joined the IV in maneuvering into position and starting. Slo-Mo was 75 yards ahead of the Visel entry as they crossed the line. Dollar continued to stretch his lead and only once did Visel make a bid to overtake the speed record-holder. Then, as Hurricane crossed the line at the end of her third lap, she slid to a halt, her prop shaft twisted off at the end of the strut.

Dollar drove on alone, his progress marked by an overgrowing volume of noise from the whistles of the spectator fleet. When he crossed the finish line, for a heat average of 84.356 m.p.h., the tumult of the crowd all but drowned out the roar of the Allison.

So the 1950 winner will have her name inscribed on the old plated urn for a second time. The challenging owners, though faced with another long trek to Seattle in 1953, feel somewhat encouraged by having seen that the Slo-Mos come apart at times, too.

Summary of the 45th Gold Cup Race

Home Port




(Heat 1)

(Heat 2)

(Heat 3)

Position Score

Slo-Mo-Shun IV
Seattle, Wash.

Stanley Sayres
Stanley Dollar

28'6" x 11'4"





84.356 800
(1st )

Miss Pepsi
Detroit, Mich.

Dossin Bros.
Chuck Thompson

36' x 9'3"


(1st )




Hurricane IV
Angeles, Cal.

Morlan Visel
Morlan Visel

27' x 11'6"






Such Crust IV
Detroit, Mich.

Jack Schafer
Bill Cantrell

30' X 12'






Miss Great Lakes II
Detroit, Mich.

Albin Fallon
Joe Taggart

30' x 12'






Slo-Mo-Shun V
Seattle, Wash.

Stanley Sayres
Lou Fageol

28'6" X 12'






*All boats were powered with single Allison, 12 cylinder, 1710 cubic inch engines except Miss Pepsi which carried a pair of these machines.

Such Crust IV, tended by Coast Guardsmen, is towed back to the pits after a disastrous explosion and fire which sent her driver Bill Cantrell, to the hospital with second and third degree burns. This Jack Schafer craft placed fourth.

(Reprinted from Yachting, September 1952, pp.33-35)

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