1955 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 7, 1955
Slo-mo V : Another Perspective
by Neil Culver
I was six years old in 1955, and I had just stepped outside into our front yard in Burien, when I heard my mother scream. I rushed back into the house and remember Bill O'Mara getting hysterical about the Slo Mo V flipping. I, too, got an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was afraid for Lou Fageol, and I was afraid that without the Slo Mo V Seattle might not prevail against the forces of evil, as manifested by the Detroit contingent. And, unfortunately, events proved my stomach was right.
Our family went to the race (my dad took me to my first race in 1952), and when the final heat was over, and it became apparent that the Gale V had won, I again felt almost physically ill. The whole crowd went into a kind of combined state of shock and mourning. The only other time I have ever felt such a sense of shared mourning and sadness was Nov. 22, 1963. It sounds ridiculous today, but it's true.
From then on so many of our favorite boats were destroyed, you couldn't help but watch the races without being afraid for the drivers, and the boats. The boats themselves all had personalities of their own almost like they were human. People cried over the Slo Mo Shun IV, when it was wrecked trying to qualify for the Gold Cup back in Detroit. And, I mourned over the Shanty I, and first Miss Thriftway, when they were lost in 1957.
As I got older I began to appreciate the slow boats. How could you hate the Such Crust III, even if it was from Detroit? Who could feel anything but compassion for the hapless Breathless? And, Scooter Too--the world's fastest submarine.
My oldest brother had a summer job working at Kenworth in 1957, and entered two Gold Cup pools at work. In both pools he drew the original Breathless (I don't think he's ever gambled since). We were driving down to the course after he got off work to take a look around, and "his boat," the Breathless, driven by Roger Murphy went out to qualify, and we were listening to the run on the radio of his '47 Ford. Breathless astounded everyone--it turned its first lap at over 100 mph as I recall, an unheard of speed for Breathless. Then, something blew up, and it caught fire, burned the driver, and didn't qualify for the race. That was the last we ever saw of the old Breathless.
(Reprinted from the UHRA Thunder Letter, Vol. 2 n.45 January 15, 1996)
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