1953 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 9, 1953
90 Miles At 100 M.P.H.
When the Gold Cup Contest Board last year voted to increase the length of a course lap from three to five miles, devotees of power boat racing felt that the last barrier had been removed from attainment of a 100 mile-an-hour Gold Cup Race. This action seemed to provide the final requisite for exceeding the century mark over the full 90 miles of the contest.
These hopes were treated to a liberal dash of cold water this spring when, for good and sufficient reasons not connected with speed records, contestants and officials agreed to cut back the lap length to 3.75 miles. A Gold Cup heat consisting of eight laps around this 3.75 mile course, though admittedly conducive of higher speeds than the former 10 turns around a three-miler, is sure to produce a slower pace than the five-mile oval with its six laps per heat.
Discounting the ever-present influence of water conditions, mechanical failures and racing strategy of the various contestants, the statistically-minded fan can build a good case for a 100-mile pace throughout the '53 race. Opening blast of the figure-filbert is to point out that the existing record for the 30-mile Gold Cup heat is the 101.024 m.p.h. chalked up by Chuck Thompson at Seattle last August with the Dossin Brothers' Miss Pepsi. Then, moving down the record column, he triumphantly demonstrates that the standing mark for a full 90-mile race was set way back in 1950, when Ted Jones wheeled Stan Sayres' Slo-Mo-Shun IV around the Detroit course at 78.215. "And," he adds, "both speeds were made on a three-mile course."
Should his listener portray something short of astonishment at mention of these figures, our statistician continues, "Why, here we are with a race speed only 77% of the lap record. This is way out of line with this relationship over the history of Gold Cup racing."
Well, let's see about that. Going back 20 years, we find that both 30 and 90 miles records were credited to Horace Dodge's Delphine IV. The famous crew of Bill Horn and Charlie Grafflin had won the 1932 contest at Montauk, N .Y., in this Packard-powered multiple-step hydro. Their race average of 57.77 was better than 97% of their 59.21 heat record.
Five years later we again find both records credited to one boat: Notre Dame, owned by Herb Mendelson and driven by Clell Perry. This conventional hydro, with her 24cylinder Duesenberg, in 1937 toured the Detroit course at the rate of 63.4 for the whole 90 miles, and was clocked on her fastest heat at 68.645. Here the race-to-heat percentage works out at 92.
(PHOTOS NOT AVAILABLE YET:)
Zammy Simmons' My Sin, which set a race record of 66.2 in 1939,
follows Notre Dame, successor to the Mendelson craft of the same name
which set both 30 and 90 mile marks in 1937, when race speeds averaged 95 % of
Miss Peps (foreground), a tandem-Allison-powered multistep hydro, owned
by the Dossin Brothers and driven by Chuck Thompson to the existing heat record
of 101.024 in the 1952 race, broke down in the second heat
Horace Dodge's Delphine IV in winning the 1932 Gold Cup Race at
Montauk, N.Y., set both heat (59.21) and race (57.77) marks. She was driven by
Defending champ Slo-Mo-Shun IV setting the world straightaway record of 178. She won Cup in 1950 and 'S2; holds race record of 78.215
Ten years ago, history shows that the two significant records were divided. Notre Dame's 1937 mark for 30 miles still stood. The full race pace had been boosted, however, in 1939 when Zammy Simmons' Miller-powered three-pointer My Sin won the contest at Detroit with a 90-mile speed of 66.2 m.p.h. At this stage the race record represented 96% of the best heat speed.
How about five years ago? At that date we find both marks standing in the name of Guy Lombardo’s Tempo VI. It was in 1946 that Guy's boat, the former My Sin, cleaned up at Detroit, racking up 70.878 for her best heat and 68.072 for the full race—a percentage of 96.
With our historical examples showing a race-to-heat ratio averaging .95, the current figure of .77 does seem out of line. It appears that we should expect to see the 90-mile mark boosted to some 96 m.p.h. on this basis of forecasting.
History, however, shows that we have never had a full race over the century mark around any course under five nautical miles in length. As previously mentioned, Miss Pepsi bettered 101 m.p.h. for one heat at Seattle last year and this on a three-mile course. But Pepsi broke down long before she had a chance to prove whether she could hold this pace for 90 miles.
Lou Fageol drove Stan Sayres' Slo-Mo-Shun IV at an average of 100.181 to win the second Harmsworth heat in 1950 at Detroit. But this was around a five-nautical-mile course. Both the IV and her sister, Slo-Mo-Shun V, bettered this speed the following year when they ran two 10-nautical mile heats of two laps each during the Seafair Trophy Race at Seattle. The IV is credited with the faster heat of the two, her 111.742 being still the fastest a boat has traveled in competition. But there is a vast difference between a five-nautical-mile lap and a 3.75-statute-mile circuit.
And so it seems that we must look to our prospective starters in the 1953 race to see if they promise anything likely to surpass previous performances. First-the defender, Slo-Mo-Shun IV, holder of the world straightaway record of 178 m.p.h. Her best heat has been at the rate of 84.905. The newer Slo-Mo-Shun V is credited with a heat at 91.766. However, we must not forget that the V led Miss Pepsi for more than half of the latter's record-setting 101.024 heat.
Of the other veterans of the 1952 fleet, Miss Pepsi has been retired from competition. Al Fallon's single-Allison three-pointer Miss Great Lakes II; with no completed Gold Cup heat to her credit, nevertheless showed her ability to round a three-mile course at better than 100 during last-minute pre-race trials last year. She will be driven in '53 by Dan Foster. Morlan Visel's Hurricane IV, another three-pointer with an Allison, has recorded a heat at 86.318. Morlan is planning to drive his own boat again this year. No other craft from the 1952 field is expected to compete this Aug. 9th.
New contenders built for this year's race come exclusively from the Detroit area. Jack Schafer has two-both of the three-point type and both featuring vee-bottom sponsons and veed after-planes. One, a single Allison job, will be driven by Bill Cantrell; the other, with tandem Allisons, is to be in the hands of Chuck Thompson.
A new Gale III is being brought out by Joe Schoenith, who plans to turn the driving chores over to his son Lee. It is believed that this craft will be a three-pointer with a single Allison as will Miss United States [Miss US], Dan Arena's newest creation for Detroiter George Simon. No details have been released on either the Schoenith or the Simon challenger, although both are rumored to incorporate several innovations.
Here we have a situation which, statistics indicate. might produce the first 100-mile-an-hour Gold Cup Race. The final decisive factor is wrapped up in just how much additional long-distance speed can be added to the veteran craft; in how much is being built into the new ones.
(Reprinted from Yachting)
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