1953 Eastern Circuit Races
(Detroit, Washington DC & New Martinsville)
More Power to You
The September circuit of unlimited class racing, starting at Detroit on Labor Day, taking in Washington, D.C., and winding up at New Martinsville, W. Va., on the last week-end of the month, turned up some of the best big-boat competition of all time. Honors for the swing were divided as Lee Schoenith picked up the Silver Cup at Detroit with Gale II, Lou Fageol eked out a President's Cup win in Slo-Mo-Shun V at the nation's capital, and in New Martinsville first place went to Such Crust V, steered by Bill Cantrell.
Unquestionably interest in this series was greatly enhanced by the presence in the fleet of Stan Sayres' boat with the name that sounds like Injun double-talk. Race followers in the East had heard so much about the Slo-Mos that they were expecting something of the Buck Rogers type. Thus, when the V was defeated in the second heat at Detroit; when it dropped out of the third Silver Cup contest; when it trailed first Miss Great Lakes, then Such Crust III in Washington, there tended to be a note of derision in the public's reaction. It was the same sort of feeling that prompts "boos" when the home-run artist strikes out.
The facts of the matter—as those really close to the class are well aware—are these: (1) all of the top unlimited boats are now very closely matched so far as hull design and performance are concerned, (2) the power plants of the Slo-Mos appear to deliver more horses to the prop than is the case with the others in the class.
Slo-Mo arrived in Detroit equipped with a Rolls engine that had never been "debugged," nor had it been overhauled since partial submersion after an accident in August.
In the very first heat at Detroit it became obvious that the V, when driven at the upper end of her speed range on a typically lumpy Eastern course, became quite skittish. In the second heat her Rolls began to lose power and the best that Joe Taggart could get with her was a third. When Fageol found himself in a Crust III—Crust V—Gale box at the start of the third heat, the Rolls lacked the umph to accelerate him out of it and he received so thorough a water treatment as to put Slo-Mo out for the day.
For Washington, the Rolls was replaced with a G-6 Allison worked-over by Howard Gidovlenko. The Potomac was even rougher than its usual state for the first heat and the V behaved in such a terrifying fashion as to scare the hardiest observer. She seemed to have m.p.h. on every boat in the race, but her behavior in the rough going, plus the shortness of the straightaways, made it almost impossible for her to pass any of the top competitors which could beat her over the starting line.
New Martinsville mile trial speeds of 151.58 for Such Crust III and 140.18 for Crust V tend to confirm our belief that Slo-Mo has a handful of speed advantage over the rest of, the fleet. But watching her run, and reading the summaries, lead us to conclude that this advantage was largely academic on the short, rough courses of the Eastern circuit.
(Reprinted from Yachting, November 1953)
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