1952 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 9, 1952
The Gold Cup Stays At Seattle
They fell by the wayside in bunches, but that old Lady Slo-mo-Shun IV outlasted the field.
Slo-Mo-Shun IV lay motionless in the water at the end of four laps in the first heat of the 45th running of the famous Gold Cup August 9 on Lake Washington in Seattle. Was she all through?
Stanley Dollar moored her to a patrol craft near the finish line and dejectedly watched Miss Pepsi go the whole 10 laps to set a new heat record for the 30 miles on this three mile course in 17 min., 49 and 5/100 seconds — 101.0242 mph.
But it turned out in real life like one of those racing scripts from movieland. As shadows from wooded hills dropped across a course boiled from a day-long hot spell; roiled from the props of an accumulated 13,000 horsepower of supercharged engines, Slo-mo-shun IV eased across the finish line of the third and final heat the winner of the 1952 Gold Cup and the only boat left that could even turn a propeller. The Gold Cup stays in Seattle.
She was a gallant lady tugging at all the heart strings and heart breaks centered around a torrid race witnessed by at least 300,000 spectators, eyed by millions on live television and brought to countless others by newspaper, radio and every newsreel outfit in the country.
Here was Slo-mo-shun IV, the craft they hadn't heard of in 1950 until she set a new world's speed record for the straightaway of 160 mph plus. The Cinderella boat that went to Detroit and took the 1950 Gold Cup and the international challenge cup, the Harmsworth. The same lady who deferred to her new sister Slo-mo-shun V in 1951's Gold Cup. The boat Stan Sayres chose to reset the speed record at 178 mph plus this July, figured by everyone to place behind "Five" in this Gold Cup ending up not only the winner but the only boat that could run. It was dramatic.
In that first heat Slo-mo-shun IV's propeller shattered just as she started lap five. Between heats owner Stanley Sayres had the prop from "Five" transferred. "Four's" propeller had disintegrated so completely there was no trace of it, only the bolts and nuts that had held it on. Driver Stanley Dollar had a premonition. He noticed she wasn't responding to power as the race warmed up.
In many ways that first heat was most of the Gold Cup. The six entered racers drove hard for the starting line. Slo-mo V came up on the outside and took the lead from Miss Pepsi. Miss Great Lakes was running third, Slo-mo IV running fourth, Hurricane fifth and Such Crust IV sixth. Such Crust had to put in a new engine and barely had it "run in" before race time. She held back in the first heat.
Miss Great Lakes tore out her gears on the south turn in the second lap. The final winner went out with no prop at the end of four laps. In the meantime Slo-mo V, the defending Gold Cup champion, and Miss Pepsi were staging the greatest two boat race in history. Never before had two boats both averaged over 100 mph for five laps. This is a scorching pace on a closed course. Lou Fageol, last year's champion driver, said he had never driven her out of the water for so much of the time. The bouncing and leaping was terrific. Every time he tried to relax just a mite Miss Pepsi boomed up a threat to take over. Hard driving Chuck Thompson never let up. On the back stretch of the fifth lap Fageol saw the ominous signs of a heated engine. She'd been bouncing out of water so much on those rough turns her scoops hadn't taken in enough cooling water. Miss Pepsi then made her bid and Slo-mo V took the challenge, but her overheated block cracked. She crossed the line for the start of the sixth lap 100 yards in the lead and then slowed to cruising and came around home. Miss Pepsi went on to set the heat record. Hurricane finished second and Such Crust IV third. There was glumness in "Sayresville" this day. Their beloved Slo-mos were done. Detroit contingents and rooters were high. Miss Pepsi sat in the number one spot with a 400 point lead, and a possible 400 point bonus.
Came the second heat. A roar went up. It was true. Across the line dashed Slo-mo-shun IV right on Pepsi's tail. The old girl wasn't through. Hurricane was out with a motor that wouldn't start in time. Such Crust IV was running third and running much faster. Bill Cantrell took her into the south turn. A burst of flame and she was burning fiercely. Cantrell was blown into the water. The Coast Guard went to the rescue, extinguishing flames and giving first aid to the rescued driver. He was badly burned but will recover. Such Crust stayed afloat but was a wreck and badly gutted.
As Crust burst into flames Slo-mo-shun IV was riding Miss Pepsi's wake and Stan Dollar wasn't sparing the horses. Down that first-lap back-stretch they flew. Just as they hit the North turn, her gear box broke down and Pepsi was through for the day. Dollar had pushed "Four" at 96.84 for the first lap, then finished the second heat at a slow and cautious 75.49.
It was almost lonesome on the course as he toured that second heat, nine laps alone. So here was the situation. Slomo IV has 400 points and ready to run the third heat. Miss Pepsi had 400 points but was washed out. Morlan Visel and his Hurricane, that well-liked and versatile pair from Southern California, had a bad break not getting started in time for the second heat, but they had 300 points from the first one and reported they'd be ready for the final heat.
So here was the Gold Cup. Two Pacific Coast boats from opposite ends of the coast line ready to battle it out. The 1952 Gold Cup could go to either. They made a beautiful running start. Hurricane was on the outside and running much better than in '51. They hit the first turn and Dollar poured it on. He had some lead on the first lap, went out to 400 yards at the start of the second lap. Then Visel smelled a chance for victory and went after it. He closed the gap. Hurricane ran the second lap in 85.87 and IV did only 83.18 mph. Here was the climax. Dollar turned loose and began to pull away on the back stretch of the third lap. He ran that lap in 91.32 mph. Hurricane was giving all in the try when bang, the shaft twisted off right in front of the official barge at the end of three laps.
Out there was Slo-mo-shun IV, once again running lap after lap all alone. All she had to do was keep running. It was tense. She finished out the race dropping down from 87 to 77 mph through successive laps, then doing the finale in 81.09 mph. The 1952 Gold Cup champion is Slo-mo-shun IV, the boat that roared back from casualty to victory.
SEA-ing the race at first hand: This is the first propeller that a Slo-mo-shun unlimited has ever dropped in either informal running or in racing . . . popular Bill Cantrell had second degree burns on arms and legs and third degree on his nose and the Coast Guard had him out of the water in 10 seconds and bandaged and into an ambulance in four minutes . . . Slo-mo IV was pumping some oil in the final heat and had a blackened windshield but nothing serious ... no boat finished all three heats, it was that tough . . . therefore none could collect a 400 point bonus for fastest heat; if Pepsi could have stayed in with that fastest heat and have taken only second place all the rest of the way she'd have won the Gold Cup . . . Slo-mo IV was first with 800 points, Pepsi second with 400, Hurricane third with 300, and Such Crust was fourth with 225 . . . The Detroit boys say they had planned to have Miss Pepsi run Slo-mo V too hard for the pace, then team up with a Detroit victory by one of the other boats sneaking in ... but it is still axiomatic that mechanically, Sayres' team of boats can't be outpaced, they are that good . . . Visel finally got Hurricane into the course for the second heat but it was 1:58 past the five minutes of tolerance and he was flagged off the course: this was how close he was all day to having a shot at the championship . . . Stan Dollar knew that something was amiss with IV's prop at the start of the race ... if you don't think Sayres has confidence in his team, listen: the mechanics' team swarmed over IV, changing to a new prop, trying out the shaft, working feverishly under Jensen, Linenschmidt, Welsh, Andrews, Schobert, Welsh, et al., yet Sayres, outwardly calm, sat inside the pit station with Fageol and Dollar and none came out until the boys joyously gave the all-ready sign for the second heat-the temptation to be in the middle of this all-important recovering must have been gnawing, but the famous owner again played it calm like the champion he personally and nationally is.
Slo-mo-shun IV used stock Mobiloil and Mobil racing fuel, as usual..
(Reprinted from Sea and Pacific Motor Boat, September, 1952, pp.21-23)
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