1953 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 9, 1953
Slo-Mo-Shun IV Keeps Gold Cup
Come Gold Cup race time, and if you’re a wise man, you’ll throw away all your preconceived notions about the race. Except one thing, and that is, never sell Slo-Mo-Shun IV (of Seattle) short. Even the pre-conceived notion that Slo-Mo-Shun IV is mostly a straightaway boat went into the limbo this year. Not only is this brown mahogany "water bullet" the fastest motorboat in the world with a one-mile straightaway record of 178.497 m.p.h., set July 7, 1952, but she is a superlative competition boat, completely satisfactory on the turns and all.
This was shown in convincing style August 9 on Seattle’s Lake Washington Gold Cup course, when the Stanley S. Sayres’ craft, flying the Seattle Yacht Club burgee, took first place in all three heats, in the 46th annual Gold Cup race, for a total of 1,200 points, and in so doing, she earned 800 additional points, 400 each, for fastest heat, and fastest 90 miles. This gave her a perfect score of 2,000 points; that’s all a boat can win.
Shortly before the race, in a switch of drivers, Joe Taggart of Canton, Ohio (he drove Al Fallon’s Miss Great Lakes II in the Gold Cup in 1952), took over as pilot of Slo-Mo-Shun IV. Taggart, on very short notice and with little time to familiarize himself with the boat, turned in a superlatively fine job of driving; he drove the boat in the first and final heats. Lou Fageol, who was to have driven the unlucky Slo-Mo-Shun V, took over for the second heat. (Pre-race news had indicated that Paul Sawyer would drive. —Ed.)
Taggart, in qualifying Slo-Mo-Shun IV August 6, set a new qualifying mark of 107.5 m.p.h. for three laps around the new 3.75-mile Gold Cup course. After this performance, Seattle Slo-Mo fans breathed easier, because on Wednesday, August 5, just four days before the race, Slo-Mo-Shun V, Lou Fageol driving, threw a propeller blade during a high speed test run on Lake Washington. She wound up waterlogged close to shore with a broken strut, a corkscrew shaped drive shaft and a sizable hole in her bottom among other things.
A Navy aircraft rescue crane picked up the practically sunken boat, and delivered the boat to Anchor Jensen at the Jensen Motor Boat Corporation yard on Portage Bay where repairs were rushed. Day-and-night work turned out to be in vain, for the morning of the race, Slo-Mo-Shun V was still in trouble; her shaft was out of line, her magneto was giving trouble, and added to that, she had carburetor trouble. Shortly before race time, it was officially announced that Slo-Mo V would not run in the race. She had not qualified before her accident, and was unable to qualify or run the day of the race. This left one Sayres’ boat in the race, Slo-Mo-Shun IV.
Arrayed against the Sayres’ craft were five Detroit boats, Jack Schafer’s Such Crust V, a Slo-Mo type boat, driven by Bill Cantrell; her qualifying speed was 96.9 m.p.h.; Such Crust III; a twin-engine in tandem "monster" measuring 34 feet by 13 feet 8 inches, driven by Chuck Thompson for Jack Schafer, with a qualifying mark of 93.6 m.p.h.; Miss Great Lakes II, owned by Albin Fallon and driven by Dan Foster, with a qualifying speed of 92,9 m.p.h.; fourth boat was Gale II, Joseph Schoenith’s Dan Arena designed 30-footer driven by his son, Lee, and with a qualifying mark of 90.9 and the fifth boat was Miss U.S., owned by George Simon. This latter boat is a brand-new Arena creation, but with a number of "bugs" in her yet to be ironed out. She was dogged by mechanical troubles during qualifying week and raceday; she finally qualified early Sunday morning, August 9, race day, at 88 plus m.p.h.
An estimated 200,000 spectators, on the shores of the lake, and aboard approximately 1,000 spectator-yachts moored to the log boom on the backstretch side of the course, set up a great cheer when Slo-Mo-Shun IV came out on the course just before the start of the first heat at 2:20 P.M. With Slo-Mo V out of the race, it was up to Slo-Mo IV to keep the Gold Cup trophy in Seattle; and pitted against her were five very good boats from Detroit.
All six boats made a conventional start around the course, in the first heat, no boat electing to make a run through the pontoon bridge opening at the north end of the course. As the boats roared up to the starting line, Joe Taggart had Slo-Mo IV in first place; the gun went off about two seconds before the boat crossed the line, and the race was on. Miss Great Lakes II was a good second, while Such Crust V was third; then followed Miss U.S., Such Crust III and Gale II.
The race was only seconds old when the first boat dropped out. This was Miss Great Lakes II; she conked out in the south turn, first lap, when her drive shaft sheered off clean, just aft of the strut. The same boat had conked out in almost the same place in last year’s race. As things turned out, the boat was all finished for the day, leaving five boats racing.
Meanwhile, Slo-Mo-Shun IV, coming out of the south turn, was stepped up by Taggart, and it was a beautiful thing to watch the great boat respond, and still be under wraps. Such Crust V was in second place, Gale II third, but at the start of the second lap, Gale II passed Cantrell for second place, Such Crust V then dropping back to third. Such Crust III, doggedly held on to fourth place, while Miss U.S., unable to make much of a showing due to troubles, remained in fifth place. These positions, held until the end of the first heat. Taggart, having worked out a satisfactory lead, was content to maintain his position, and did not push the boat too much, but even so, Slo-Mo IV’s first heat average speed of 95.268 m.p.h. turned out to be the fastest heat speed of the day.
Lee Schoenith in Gale II turned in a fine mark of 93.649 m.p.h. first heat average speed, but it appeared obvious that if Gale II had pressed harder, Taggart would have poured on more coal to keep Slo-Mo IV in front. Outstanding in the first heat, and during the entire race, was the fine driving turned in by Lee Schoenith in Gale II. Many times he "picked" Slo-Mo IV on the turns, only to lose his gain as Taggart used the Sayres’ boat’s terrific acceleration to move out comfortably in front once more.
Taggart’s fastest lap in the first heat was the first lap, at 101.956 m.p.h., largely due to that sizzling burst of speed in the backstretch.
First heat results: First, Slo-Mo-Shun IV, 18m:53.64s. 400 points; second, Gale II, 19m:13.24s, 300 points; third, Such Crust V, 20m:14.74s. 89.000 m.p.h. average speed, 225 points: fourth, Such Crust III, 20m:47.42s, 86.6 m.p.h. average speed, 169 points; and fifth, Miss. U.S., 25m:48.4.1s, 69.7 m.p.h. average speed, 127 points.
One other feature of the first heat was the lapping all other boats, of the slower-running Miss U.S. Despite the slow time turned in by Miss U.S., most experts agreed that dual boat was being properly and wisely driven.
The second heat of the Gold Cup provided one of those surprises which make the race so interesting: Slo-Mo-Shun crossed the starting line in last place. The Sayres hydro was driven in this heat by Lou Fageol, at Taggart’s invitation. Fageol, finding his projected lane to the starting line blocked by another boat, was temporarily boxed in. Both Slo-Mo IV and Miss U.S. made their starts through the bridge opening—the others swinging around the north turn conventionali,- The order at the starting line, second heat; was Such Crust III, Miss U.S., Such Crust V, Gale II and Slo-Mo IV.
Slightly chagrined as Slo-Mo-Shun IV took her first wakes, Fageol went to work, and by the time he had reached the south end of the course, he had passed all boats except Such Crust V. He pulled back on the throttle, and Slo-Mo IV caught Cantrell’s boat in the backstretch. Cantrell almost simultaneously was out of the heat, his boat having shed her propeller.
Fageol discovered that Gale II was not to be taken for granted, at the south turn, second lap, when Schoenith overtook him and had had a lead of roughly 100 yards. Slo-Mo IV obviously had a bad turn. However, by the time Gale II passed the official barge, third lap, Fageol had Gale II’s lead down, and in the backstretch, same lap, Slo-Mo IV went into the lead, and remained there until the finish of the second heat. Once the Sayres boat had a lead the craft was not unduly pushed, for the drivers were taking no chances on the race.
Fageol held his distance pretty well until the fifth lap when Slo-Mo IV lapped Miss U.S. on the north turn by the pontoon bridge. Gale II did the same thing in the sixth lap at the same turn. Turning point in the race occurred in the seventh lap, second heat (there were only eight laps to a heat) when Gale II was forced to slow down with a broken cooling line. Fageol had Slo-Mo IV out in front, and only mechanical trouble apparently could keep him from . . . [text missing]
[Reprinted from Motor Boating, September 1953]
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