1952 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 9, 1952
Who Stands To Win The 1952 Gold Cup?
Gold Cup Race for Unlimited Hydros
THE DATE: Saturday afternoon, August 9, 1952.
THE COURSE: Lake Washington (Seattle), South of Floating Bridge,. viewed from West shore of Lake.
SIGNIFICANCE: This Gold Cup Classic returns to the Pacific Coast for the second straight year and the only years it has been held west of the Mississippi, Seattle's Slo-mo-shuns, IV and V, by winning in '50, then in '51 in Seattle, bring the event out West for the second straight year. It is truly the classic of all powerboat racing, and the greatest single boating event ever held on the Pacific Coast. A half-million persons, with wonderful vantage points in a natural amphitheater, will witness the event.
This question is drawing the eager conversational fire of thousands who love the sport of boating. Interest runs particularly high between the area-axis of Detroit and Seattle, hotbed capitals of unlimited hydro racing.
There is no point in trying to pick a winner outright, which is so often the custom in many sports of the day. There are too many variables showing up in the 1952 Gold Cup picture and too little comparative knowledge on performances. That is why we put the question precisely as we have: "Who stands the best chance of winning the 1952 Gold Cup?"
Weighing the key points-past performance and records, driver ability, design, power, condition of equipment, course-proven design and technical features-we pick one of Stanley Sayres' Seattle-owned, and built, Slo-mo-shun unlimiteds.
Is There a Good Chance of An Upset?
There is a whale of a good chance of one of several boats wresting the crown from the Sayres "boathouse." As this is written on the first of May the greatest field ever of new boats, new and improved engines and new applications of design-theory are being readied and refined to assault the records of the two-time winning Seattle Yacht Club entries, the Slo-mos.
It is a good old American custom to bill a coming event as the greatest ever. But often there isn't a basis of fact for such a statement when an event, like the great Gold Cup, has produced so many glorious champions in its history.
But we can flatly say that the 1952 Gold Cup is going to be the hottest contested speed drive across the water that the Gold Cupper has seen in many a-year.
That is why (1) on performance, ability and design we pick Slo-mo-shum IV, or V, as having the best chance to win; and (2) make plenty of allowance that a revved-up, powered-up derivative of Slo-mo-shun design, three-point suspension, air-fin, spoiler and all, quite likely may come along, get into first place, and stay there.
Whichever boat does it, it will have to have speed, stamina and mechanical perfection to accomplish a victory.
The straight, level facts are that a number of Gold Cup participants are aiming-dead-level serious-to beat Stanley Sayres' entries. Furthermore, they figure they will have to set new records to win.
Frankly, they came west in 1951 without the designs or the equipment in condition one or the other as the cases happen to be to press the Seattle boats too hard. New records were set. It was only a two-heat event due to the tragic Quicksilver accident that stopped the race.
Perhaps, with more boats staying right on the pace throughout the race, and that is what will happen in 1952, the 1951 lap, heat and race records may not fall. But the pace, thrills and chills are destined to top any Gold Cup race ever held.
What Are the Contenders Doing?
The activity among the contending owners and builders of unlimited hydros is like a renaissance in racing design. After what the Slo-mo-shuns showed them in 1950 and 1951, after they looked at the marvelous 160-mph plus straightaway record held by IV and set in 1950, when they realized that V didn't even try to set a higher record because nothing they had would challenge it-a number of rival owners and builders went home and began building boats embodying key Slo-mo-shun features: three point suspension, air-fin stabilizer and that greatest contribution of all to racing speed-the "drag" or "spoiler" at the bow.
If you still doubt that the Slo-mo-shun craft are really champions to be picked as number one finishers, read what "Wild Bill" Cantrell, one of the top professional race drivers and boat builders said in an interview with Harry Leduc, of his hometown Detroit News. Bill built and drove Horace Dodge's Hornet, a new three-pointer in 1951, but without other Slo-mo design ideas. Bill says Sayres and his crew hit on the idea of the "spoiler" on a Slo-mo test run.
"They knew," says Cantrell, "that it was air under the boat that was making it unmanageable unpredictable. Up to that time everybody thought air was necessary to lift the boat up and get it planing, but they decided they didn't want air; that air was a menace.
"So they added to the hull a V-step with the point of the V toward the bow. [We like to think of it as half a pyramid. Ed.] That broke the air by spilling it out each side, and kept the bow down. They called it a 'spoiler' because it spoiled the inrushing air, destroying its peril.
"At first," says Bill, "I thought the air-fin was more for looks than anything. I didn't put one on the Hornet until I found out she was swaying dangerously at high speed. So I added the trim-tab and set its rudder at about 9 degrees. I was amazed. The airfin not only kept the stern from flaring out, but also compensated for the centrifugal force of the motor and for steering action on the turns."
Cantrell insists that the Sayres-designed three-pointers are an immense advance in developments over the original Ventnor-designed three-pointer.
"The Sayres design is a true boat," he says. "It stays on the water and don't let anybody tell you it is airborne. Sayres got rid of the air with his spoiler."
The course has been moved enough to give more room on the north turn between the buoys and the floating bridge. This will cut down on backwash from the bridge and give the drivers a better sense of visual balance.
Will Records Fall?
Problematical, claim the racers. From one point the course speeds might be slightly slower on the average if a number of very high-powered boats live up to expectations and continually jam each other on the turns. On the other hand, everyone is shooting the works in preparation for having extra fast, capable and precision racing buckets in the race for three full heats. They know they'll have to, to beat the Slo-mos. Furthermore, the Slo-mos have set a terrific goal with these records: Two laps, 10 nautical miles, by No. IV at 111.742 in the Seattle Seafair Trophy event, same boat doing 160.42 on the straightaway dash in 1950; V winning the '51 Gold Cup and doing a three-mile lap in 108.663, and 91.766 mph for a 30-mile heat. All records.
Slo-mo-shun IV and V: IV has a new Allison for '52 racing. She'll thus carry somewhat more power through modification of her supercharger. No two engines weigh the same and Stan Sayres is busy directing his operating team in the trimming of the craft. She should come out of the turns with extra pickup. Always has had top power for the straightaways.
Slo-mo V may carry a new Rolls-Royce or may stay by her Allison. It's undecided. The faster of the two boats, the boat Sayres thinks most ready for the race will carry his top driver, the famous, well-liked and capable Lou Fageol, from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who drove V in last year's Gold Cup. With Fageol at the wheel, a specialist at split-timing starting-line crossings, you have to weigh heavily with that factor in picking a winner. Ted Jones, Slo-mo designer and driver, is busy elsewhere building small, limited racing craft. He may be at the wheel of one Slo-mo. Stan Sayres has several other driver possibilities.
Miss Great Lakes: This Al Fallon-owned craft, built by Dan Arena, is similar in design to the Sayres boats, although somewhat lighter, and is a dark horse entry. Highly talked up in the Middle west. Without much actual race-time comparison. Probably will be driven by young Bill Muncey, who whirled a previous Miss Great Lakes to 97-mph lap speeds two years ago in the Harmsworth. Dan Arena may drive. This craft, 30 feet long and 11 feet, 9 inches wide, mahogany varnished with red cowl, is said to be about 350 pounds lighter than Slo-mo IV. If horsepower per pound is a big factor MGL's chances increase. How close did they copy? The bottom is similar, she has a "spoiler," plans to have an air-fin, struts are chrome-nickel and the bottom plating is high-tensile aluminum. Electrical system is marine type, including thermal gauges. It's a single cockpit job. Rate the new "Miss" very high.
Miss Pepsi, the Roy and Walter. Dossin boat: She's the big two-engine-in-a-line job from Detroit that went right down the line with Slo-mo V last year, then conked out with oil-pumping trouble. One never gets a clear-cut answer to what the trouble is. Apparently this boat has this weakness over long distances. If they have it licked for 1952, and quite likely they have, watch Miss Pepsi with veteran Chuck Thompson at the wheel. She has raced and won all fall. Took the President's Cup Race and others. If Pepsi once gets that lead and stays revved-up she is the toughest boat to pass on the course, for she "plows a deep water-furrow." None is selling this entry short.
Such Crust III and IV: Jack Schafer, who saw both his Crust boats conk out in 1951, comes up with the only new twin-engine job in III and a single engine Rolls Royce in Such Crust IV. Rex Jacobs is co-owner. Such Crust III has twin Allisons, is 34 feet long and has a whopping 14-foot beam. Probably will have Danny Foster at the wheel. They say she has a theoretical speed of 240 mph. Wow. Whatever that means, don't overlook the fact that Pepsi with all that twin power is a Hacker design and Crust III is a three-pointer that rides in a minimum of water. The more you look at it, the 1952 race is going to be an all-out affair.
Gale II: This Joe Schoenith-owned craft, Arena-built, showed a lot of potential in last year's warm-up, then went down in a time-trial accident and never did get into shape for the big race. Looks like a fast, good three-pointer, and well-liked by the experts. She could take the field with a few breaks and all competition keeps an eye on her.
My Sweetie or Hornet: Strangely, the Horace Dodge racing team is quiet. Encouraged by Mrs. Horace Dodge I, there hasn't been a Gold Cup in years in which they didn't provide top competition. They promised that the "green-eyed monster," Hornet, would be back in 1952, tougher than ever. There is word that they have a new, smaller My Sweetie along the traditional Hacker design. What will Dodge, driver Walter Kade, et al, come out with? Will Guy Lombardo be at the wheel of one of these boats? One can't rate the Dodge boats because of lack of public information, but no one will under-rate them.
Then there is likeable, serious Morlan Visel from Southern California with Hurricane IV. He will be here for the race. Unless he has made changes in Hurricane she won't be first on past performance. Always a popular competitor, she will be well received.
Dan J. Murphy of Philadelphia had all the tough luck last year. Word is that he has a new boat coming out. Little else has been learned and the fans will probably have to wait until race day to see what the Shamrock-hued Dee Jay will offer.
Straight Mile Record
In 1950, before the Gold Cup in Detroit, Slo-mo-shun IV officially raised the mile record to 160.43. There it has stood.
The Detroit boats are asking for the mile course to be set up and ready. They plan a determined assault on the record. In a letter to Jerry Bryant, Gold Cup chairman for 1952, Jack Schafer writes that he wants the course and expects to raise the record with Such Crust III, that several other boats can raise it and includes the Slo-mo-shuns. In the meantime, it seems almost certain, whether the record is broken or not, Sayres will send his fastest Slo-mo-shun out in an attempt to raise his own mark.
The course will be set up on the east side of Mercer Island and on August 11, 12, 13 and 14 all officials necessary will be on hand to clock the attempts of the boats that want to try it. This includes the limited hydros who want to crack existing marks in their divisions.
(Reprinted from Pacific Motor Boat, June 1952, pp.20-1, 50)
History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
© Leslie Field, 2001