1954 Silver Cup
Detroit River, Detroit, Michigan, September 6, 1954

Dodge One-Two in Silver Cup

bullet Dodge Boats One, Two
bullet Dodge One-Two in Silver Cup

The Detroit Y.C's ninth running of the O. J. Mulford Memorial Silver Cup Races would have been a spectacular show for the estimated 200,000 fans if for no other reason than that Horace Dodge's hydroplanes placed one-two in a fleet that numbered 10 unlimited craft at the outset. It was the first time a hydroplane had won the race since Walter and Roy Dossin's twin-engined Miss Pepsi took it in 1951. Dodge won the Silver Cup last in 1949 with the original My Sweetie, with Bill Cantrell driving, just after he had bought the Hacker-designed hydroplane from Ed Schoenherr and Ed Gregory.

This year Dora My Sweetie, with young Jack Bartlow driving, finished first, and John Ban handled My Sweetie (known as the Little My Sweetie) and landed her in second place. Bartlow and Ban own the 7-Litre Let's Face It and both are comparatively new to unlimited class racing.

One would have gotten you ten anywhere along the D.Y.C. dock before the Silver Cup that a Dodge boat would not take it. But for this race, as has been the case so often in unlimited class racing, survival rather than speed paid off and the Dodge boats survived. A third Dodge boat, just to give you an idea, John Francis II My Sweetie, driven by Bob Ward, would have placed third if she hadn't broken down on the last lap of the last race.

It was Horace Dodge's day, and a great one for the 54-year-old multi-millionaire who has owned around 20 Gold Cup boats and recalls owning 16, since he started out with his first challenger, Impshi, back in 1924. Twice Dodge boats have won the Silver Cup, but not until this Labor Day Silver Cup Race did he see his craft place one-two. He watched the races with his mother Mrs. Horace E. Dodge and his wife, Gregg.

The 10 boats ready to start in the first of the five 12-mile heats around the three-mile course in the Detroit River were split into two sections of five boats each.

Bill Cantrell driving Joe Schoenith's Gale IV took heat 1-B at 89.168 m.p.h. My Sweetie won heat 1-A at 82.812 m.p.h. Gale IV's steering froze and Cantrell had to beach her near Water Works Park on the third lap of the second heat. Lee Schoenith, driving Gale V, winner of the Maple Leaf and Detroit Memorial events earlier this season on the Detroit River, tore a hole in her bottom during the first lap of the first heat and just made the marine carriage at the Pit at Keans.

Fred Lennep, a horseman. who borrowed both of Jack Schafer 's Such Crusts, III and V, for the race had tough luck. Such Crust V, renamed Trotalong for this race, won the second heat with a 56.592 m.p.h. average with Roy Duby, but she was swamped in the third heat. Chuck Thompson was picked to drive Pacealong, ex-Such Crust III, the two-Allison job, and sank near the Detroit Boat Club in a qualifying run before the race started. Both of Schafer 's boats are under Federal jurisdiction and Van Lennep had leased the Crusts under a $15,000 bond to return them in good condition. Mr. Van Lennep, at last report, was sticking to the horse park.

Chuck Thompson brought out his own Short Circuit for the second heat but she failed to go. Danny Foster, the old pro in unlimited class racing, gave Wha Hoppen Too a fast twirl to win the third heat in 85.987 m.p.h. This must have done in Wha Hoppen because she couldn't finish the fourth heat.

In the meantime the Dodge boats were running and getting their places and points as the fleet diminished. My Sweetie took the fourth heat at 51.353 m.p.h. and Dora My Sweetie the fifth and last with a 76.312 average. Dora My Sweetie had 1600 points; My Sweetie, 1269; Miss Cadillac, 1046 (owned by Frank Bud Saile); Trotalong, 569; John Francis II My Sweetie, 450; Gale IV, 450; Wha Hoppen Too, 400, and Miss U.S. George Simons, 394.

Miss U.S. was put out in the third heat when she lost a sponson after a collision with Dora as both craft tried to avoid a small outboard loaded with spectators and drifting down on the raceway. The outboard was unscathed. Dora got a hole in her hull but was able to continue. Miss U.S., with Gale V, was a pre-race favorite. Before he broke down with Gale IV, Cantrell registered the fastest lap, 99.438 to win the Lt. James J. Meehan, Jr. Memorial Trophy and took the Aaron DeRoy Memorial for the fastest heat, 89.168 m.p.h.

óGeorge E. Van

(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1954)

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