1956 APBA Gold Cup Race
Detroit River, Detroit MI, September 1, 1956
Miss PepsiNamed Gold Cup Victor
Detroit, September 1, 1956 -- America's for most speed boat event, the Gold Cup competition, ended in a welter of protests and counter protests tonight. Roy Dossin of Detroit held the trophy after tonight's awards ceremonies, but the final decision as to the processor of the Gold Cup for this year will be made by the sixteen-man United States Inboard Racing Commission.
After apparently winning and being congratulated, photographed and cheered, Bill Muncey, driving Miss Thriftway, which is owned by Willard Rhodes of Seattle, was disqualified for hitting and damaging a buoy in the final 30-mile heat.
The action taken by Referee Gibson Bradfield of Barnesville, Ohio, was mandatory and prompt. The disqualification was confirmed by the American Powerboat Association Gold Cup committee.
Muncey denied the charges, averred no course charge anchored near the Belle Isle Bridge or Chuck Thompson, the rival who registered the protest, could have observed something that didn't take place. But the officials' decision had all the end the Gold Cup for 1956 went to Thompson, the driver for Dossin of the twin-motored Miss Pepsi.
Miss Pepsi, out of competition for the past few seasons and restored to regatta activity only this year, represents the Detroit Yacht Club. This means, of course, that the trophy, in quest of which millions of dollars have been spent by wealthy sportsmen since 1904, will, pending the decision of the Inboard Commission, stay in each right.
Instead of beating Thompson, 1369 points to 1300, as was prematurely announced, Muncey wound up in third-place with 569 points. Miss Pepsi had an official total 1400, counting a bonus for the fastest 90 miles in the entire race.
The runner-up spot went to Shanty I, driven most of the afternoon by Lt. Col. Russell E. Schleeh, a jet bomber pilot of the Air Force, with 625 points. Schleeh steered off the course on the second lap of the final heat with engine trouble.
Edgar Kaiser's Hawaii Kai III was forth with 486 points. Another Seattle yacht club entry, Maverick, like Shanty, owned by William T. Waggoner Jr. of Arizona and Texas, was fifth with 465. Joe Schoenith's Gale VI was sixth with 415.
After dark the Thriftway pit crew lodged a counter-protest with the referee and APBA officials. This protest, which led to the placing of the matter before the Inboard Commission, charged that Muncey had merely hit the buoy in brushing touch, whereas, the statement alleged, Thompson had three times run over the same buoy in his Miss Pepsi.
As if protests, rain and squalls were not enough, another incident was linked with the Gold Cup event by Horace E. Dodge, the former Cup winner. Dodge tried to have a court enjoin the race and call it no contest.
His entry, Dora My Sweetie, did not qualify yesterday. Her speed of 93.50 miles an hour was too slow to be selected. It is understood Dodge objected to additional trials as late as this morning.
Through a member of his racing staff, Dodge had a court order served on George J.. Trimper of Buffalo, the president of the APBA. The matter will go before the Wayne County Circuit Court on September 7. As a result the Gold Cup and prices were presented at tonight's ceremonies at the Detroit Yacht Club "provisionally."
In a long day, the last of the eliminations finally brought the final field to 6. The score more of possible contenders were cut to 15 in the pre-race trials for speed, then to the fastest even dozen who were divided into two sections. Each section and raced to 30-mile heats and after this total of 60 miles, the Gold Cup event, with rules adopted for this year, was ready for its final 30-mile effort. That made total of 90 miles.
Miss Pepsi raced in Section A of the qualifying for the final with Miss Thriftway, Maverick, Gale VI and Miss Wayne. The eventual winner took the first heat and finished second to Miss Thriftway in the second heat.
Shanty I, in Section B with Gale IV, Miss Seattle, Hawaii Kai III, Muvalong and Miss U.S. II, to both heats in its section.
Shanty I qualified for the final with 625 points. Miss Pepsi had 600, Miss Thriftway 569, Maverick 296, Hawaii Kai III 196 and Gale VI 196.
Miss Seattle, with 198 points, had been nominated for sixth place in the finale until someone recalled that this racing craft had cut a buoy in two heats and therefore was entitled to no points.
Still one more substitution was made. When Gale IV, with 225 points, encountered supercharge trouble at almost the last moment, Gale VI, another Schoenith craft, qualified.
Today's use of Detroit waters was the first for the Gold Cup since 1949 [sic].
For decades Michigan's automotive capital was also regarded as the world's speed boat capital. That was until Stanley Sayres boat came east from Seattle in 1950 to win the Gold Cup with Ted Jones at the wheel of Slo-Mo-Shun IV.
This is essentially the same craft that flipped over Thursday bringing hospitalization and fractures to Joe Taggart and raising a rift between the speed world and the local units of the United States Coast Guard that may reach the proportions of a congressional investigation.
In Detroit's week of freakish weather at almost "hurricaned out" the Harmsworth Trophy race, another early afternoon storm today threatened the first of the five heats of the Gold Cup. But hardly had the black thunderheads, squally winds and helping rain died down than Miss Pepsi roared out into the course to become the afternoon's first headliner..
She dominated the first elimination heat, leading from the start and finishing 38 seconds ahead of Miss Thriftway, piloted by Bill Muncey of Detroit, and nearly two minutes in front of Bill Waggoner's second best unlimited racer, Maverick, driven by Bill stead of Reno.
Thompson, in Miss Pepsi, nearly lapped Lee Schoenith in Gale IV and did lapped the spider ring Miss Wayne, with Bud Saile at the wheel.
The few minutes of signed in the first elimination were a snare and delusion. The second trial of thirty miles had hardly started when the downpour began again, chasing drenched thousands of spectators to sheltered spots.
The pilot daredevils were getting some protection from the enormous safety goggles covering their eyes and parts of their cheeks, but the officials halted the heat as leaders were finishing the sixth of the ten three-mile laps.
Then ensued a long rhubarb. should the heat be re-started or should the six laps for some boats and five laps for others constitute a race.
At the end of the fifth lap a Detroiter, Fred Alter in George Simon's Miss U.S. I, was leading. At the end of six laps Lieut. Col. Russell. E. Schleeh had regained the lead he held in early laps in Shanty I.
But the committee's eventual decision was "no contest" and the heat was ordered re-run.
(Reprinted from the New York Times, September 2, 1956)
History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at email@example.com
© Leslie Field, 2000