1952 President's Cup
Potomac River, Washington, DC, September 21, 1952
Beneath a sky that made photography a pleasure, the 1952 President's Cup Regatta reestablished the Unlimited Hydroplane class as the most spectacular in APBA racing. Not one case of "gearboxitus" developed during the three heats for the big cup and the performance of the Dossin brothers' Miss Pepsi in winning it will long be remembered by regatta spectators. Washington, 1952, will be remembered as the meet where five unlimiteds started the first heat and, although one withdrew, not one conked out. As amazing were the second and third heats when four boats started, four finished and four ran extra laps!
However, there were other boats at Washington besides the big Allison powered inboards. The two-day meet attracted close to 100 boats of all classes from Midgets to outboard hydroplanes and twin-engined inboards. Saturday, September 20, was given over mostly to the outboard classes, with PODH's and 136's the only small inboards scheduled.
The first heat of the President's Cup for the Unlimited Hydroplane class was held as the sun began to sink in the afternoon sky. When the last of the preliminaries were getting under way the five entrants were towed from the pits past the rows of seats that lined the seawall, giving the thousands of spectators an excellent view of the big boats. As the five-minute gun was sounded, the towlines were cast off and the Allisons cranked. At the one-minute gun, each of the five starters was making an approach check run and as each driver pounded past the committee boat he was observed to check his watch.
The start was impressive, with Miss Pepsi first across the line. The twin-engined Hacker built craft, with Chuck Thompson in the left hand bucket seat, was only a half length or so ahead of Miss Great Lakes, which was on the inside as if driver Joe Taggart was determined to beat Miss Pepsi around the first turn. On the outside and a bit further astern was Such Crust III, the behemoth of the fleet of Jack Schaefer of Detroit. Back several lengths, in the roostertails of the leaders, were the other two boats, Gale and Hornet-Crust, the first owned by J.L. Schoenith of Detroit and the latter jointly owned by Major Horace Dodge and Jack Schaefer. As the boats rounded the turn, which was taken close to the buoys by Chuck Thompson, Miss Pepsi went into the lead and retained it. Taggart, taking a spine jarring pounding in Miss Great Lakes, made an effort to close the gap in the second lap but the reserve of power that Thompson had in Miss Pepsi was enough to keep Taggart astern. On the back stretch in the first heat a throttle control cable came unstuck on Such Crust III as a result of which she withdrew and limped off towards the pits.
The first heat went to Miss Pepsi with a speed of 84.72 for the ten miles, a creditable performance. In second place, about a quarter-mile astern, was Miss Great Lakes, followed by Gale II with Danny Foster at the wheel. An almost lapped fourth was the composite Hornet-Crust.
The second and third heats were run the following day. In each heat the four finishers for the initial heat started and finished. In the second heat and third heats the order of finishers was the same as on the previous day. However there was a continual jockeying between Gale II and Miss Great Lakes for second place as they trailed Miss Pepsi around the buoys. Thompson was a bit less heavy on the throttle pedal on the second lap as he was clocked at 82.416 for the ten miles although on the first lap he was timed at 97.379 miles an hour.
The final heat set a new course record for Washington. Thompson wheeled the smooth riding, multi-step hull around at an average speed of 86.373. The second lap was a scorcher as the nerveless driver of the Dossin craft swung close to the buoys to run the two and a half miles at 94.142 miles an hour. Miss Great Lakes gave promise of being a powerful contender in next year's competition as Taggart rode the spray of Miss Pepsi for four laps. When Miss Pepsi finished, Miss Great Lakes was only 200 yards astern.
Between the heats for the President's Cup the D.E.F. Service Runabout classes competed. Thirteen boats made spectacular starts. The Vaughn Francis of Enoch Walker from Hampton, Virginia, led the classes over the finish line in both heats with speeds of 51.90 and 52.235 miles an hour. Second both times was the Hydrogen, driven by Sam du Pont of Wilmington, Delaware, and third on points was Joe Mascari of Hyde Park, New York, whose Cary took a third and fourth.
While the President was not at the regatta, a speaking engagement preventing his attendance, everything else in Washington was idea for a regatta. The buffet dinner at the Burlington Hotel was very nice and many of the drivers who plan to return next year were emphatic in stating the national capital put on a good regatta.
(reprinted from The Rudder, November 1952)
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