1953 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 9, 1953
Calling the Space Patrol
"Calling the Space Patrol, calling the Space Patrol; seen any planets out there with a good fast hydroplane that wants a race?"
The old gal Slo-mo-shun IV has run out of opponents.
She took on the world's best again and she whipped 'em to a frazzle.
No matter who is the driver, the IV is mistress of the seas.
Seattle's red-tailed hydroplane took the Gold Cup in 1950 with Ted Jones; she won again last year with Stanley Dollar. Yesterday under a cloudless sky, with her propeller sending a cascade of foam and spray high in her wake, the speed queen won the first heat with a strange hand at the wheel, Joe Taggart.
"Let's let Lou Fageol drive the next one," said Stanley Sayres, her proud and beaming owner.
It was all right with the old lady. The Seattle boat zoomed to victory in the second heat, then with Taggart in the cockpit she made it a clean sweep for the afternoon. The grand dame of the Slo-mo fleet had to be good yesterday. Her younger sister V wasn't ready to run. The odds against the champ were big . . . five boats to one. But what does she, or the unsung heroes in the pit crew, care about odds? The IV ran three of the challengers into the pits, in various stages of wreckage and disrepair. Then the defender of the Gold Cup out-raced the threatening Gale II and the last remaining Detroiter, Such Crust III, in the day's grand finale. She won coasting, her pursuers far behind.
* * *
Here They Come For the Start
We've said it before and we'll say it again.
There is no more electrifying moment in sports than the start of the Gold Cup . . . not the opening kickoff in the Rose Bowl, the first round bell of a world's title fight nor the rush from the starting gate in the Derby.
One minute to go and here they come, heading into the first heat, swinging around the northeast corner, all six boats prow to prow, each driver eyeing the moving hand of Big Ben, the great 10-foot clock, as it ticks off the seconds from 60 to zero.
"Helmeted Joe Taggart in the Slo-mo comes rocketing under the starting flag, his motor doing 3,000 RPM no more than a boat length ahead of Danny Foster in Miss Great Lakes and Wild Bill Cantrell at the wheel of Such Crust V.
This is it . . . a split second too soon over the line and the Seattle boat would be practically out of the heat being forced by the rules to do a complete extra lap as penalty.
Five seconds, four seconds, three seconds, two seconds, one second, zero . . . there is the Slo-mo whipping across the imaginary line, a bare two seconds after the gun, the rest of the pack close in its wake.
A low roar of applause sweeps the official barge at Taggart's uncanny timing. As they go zooming past the press box the Seattle hydro is in the highly advantageous position of holding first position on the rail, as they say at Longacres.
From there on they level off and you can catch your breath. But that 60-second dash for the start, there is no more dramatic minute in sports.
* * *
Drivers Have To Be Good, Too
They are a rollicking, swashbuckling crew, the speed drivers, and the Seattle boat had a couple of good ones yesterday.
Some of the things you don't forget are Taggart and Fageol riding their boat like a cowboy in the rodeo . . . the former's masterly driving on the turns, sliding up to a buoy so close, you couldn't get a piece of paper between hull and marker . . . Fageol blowing a kiss to his, wife as he swished past the stands, a 100-mile-an-hour kiss which Mrs. Fageol caught on the fly . . . Lou coming up to the start of the second heat last, then surging into the lead before the boats had rounded the first corner . . .
There was honor enough for both yesterday, with plenty left over for the grease monkeys in white overalls who built the boat and made her run.
As the song says, it was a great day.
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, 2007