1957 Sahara Cup
Lake Mead, Nevada, October 12-13, 1957

Speedboat Records Fall In Opening Day Heats of Sahara Cup Races
Hawaii Kai Zooms; One Pilot Hurt

October 13, 1957 / Las Vegas Review-Journal
by John Romero, Las Vegas Review-Journal Sports Editor

1957 Sahara CupPink and coral Hawaii Kai and driver Jack Regas made a shambles of Sahara Cup speed records Saturday leading a field of nine unlimited hydroplanes into today’s final heats. The Kai battered down Sahara Cup lap and heat records in winning the second heat of Saturday’s racing and became a favorite to repeat its 1956 Lake Mead victory.

The Hawaii Kai completely dominated the unlimited field, racing through its heat in a record 106.983 miles per hour clocking with a lap record of 112.184 en route. Regas, the Livermore, California veteran, said he set the new Sahara Cup marks "eased up." He won Heat 1B by almost two miles over Miss U.S. IV.

Miss Bardahl, given a fine ride by Norm Evans, won Heat 1A when early leader Miss Wahoo lost a propeller on the second lap. But the Bardahl’s time was only 97.349. The Kai was almost 10 miles per hour faster.

A crowd of about 10,000 watched Saturday’s events, and the pre-race favorite Hawaii Kai III did not disappoint. Regas had the 6000 pound boat well in front at the start of the second heat of the day and when Thriftway Too went dead in the water on the second lap, it was no contest. Miss U.S. IV trailed badly at the start and finished almost two miles behind. Miss Seattle could not be started and Al Benson watched the race helplessly alongside the course.

In Heat 1A, Miss Bardahl trailed Mira Slovak in Miss Wahoo by nearly a quarter mile in the second lap when Wahoo suddenly lost its propeller. Bardahl flashed past and pulled away from ailing Breathless II and the ailing Maverick to win easily. Maverick, one of the pre-race favorites, lost power at the outset and fell far back, averaging only 72.449 for the 15-mile distance. "I don’t know what went wrong," said Maverick driver, Reno’s Bill Stead. "She went great in the morning. Maybe we’ll have to change engines."

Evans said he eased up when he gained a huge lead over Breathless II and Maverick. "Bardahl’s running better than ever," Evans said, "but Hawaii Kai is still the boat to beat."

A special qualifying trial was held for Fascination, a Tacoma, Washington entry, late Saturday and Bob Gilliam qualified for today’s racing at an average speed of 89 miles per hour. Driver’s will draw this morning to determine their positions for today’s heat races at 1:10 and 2:20. The final is scheduled for 3;30 following a performance by the Air Force precision flying jet team, the Thunderbirds.

Sahara Cup Summaries, Lake Mead, Nevada,
October 12-13, 1957)

Heat 1A (Saturday October 12, 1957)

1. Miss Bardahl Norm Evans
2. Breathless II Jay Murphy
3. Maverick Bill Stead

Heat 1B October 12, 1957)

1. Hawaii Kai III Jack Regas
2. Miss U.S. IV Don Wilson

Heat 2A (Sunday October 13, 1957)

1. Hawaii Kai III Jack Regas
2. Thriftway Too Brian Wygle
3. Miss Bardahl Norm Evans
4. Miss Seattle Chuck Hickling

Heat 2B (Sunday October 13, 1957)

1. Maverick Bill Stead
2. Miss Wahoo Mira Slovak
3. Miss U.S. IV Don Wilson
DNF - Fascination Bob Gilliam

Final (Sunday October 13, 1957)

1. Thriftway Too Brian Wygle
2. Hawaii Kai III Jack Regas
3. Miss U.S. IV Don Wilson
DNF – Fascination  
DNS – Miss Bardahl  

Withdrew – Miss Seattle (damaged sponson) / Miss Wahoo (damaged sponson) Breathless II (chose not run due to weather and darkness) / Maverick (fire damage)

Final Points

1. Hawaii Kai III


2. Miss U.S. IV


3. Thriftway Too


4. Maverick


4. Miss Bardahl

625 (tied)

6. Breathless II


7. Miss Wahoo


8. Miss Seattle


Las Vegas Review-Journal. All rights reserved.

Winds, Waves Hamper Record Assaults

Regas, Kai Repeat Sahara Victory

Kaiser May Sell Champion Boat

By John Romero – Sports Editor

Las Vegas Review-Journal / Monday, October 14, 1957

The hydroplane racing team of Hawaii Kai III and Jack Regas may shortly part company, but while the 6,000 pound boat and crew-cut young man from Livermore, California, worked as a unit, they left one of the all-time great records on the record book.

When Regas drove the Kai to victory in the second annual Sahara Cup races on Lake Mead (Nevada) before a crowd of 39,690, he (1) won the Lake Mead event for the second straight year, (2) packed away his fifth straight major hydroplane win, and (3) won the national racing championship with 3,094 points.

Hawaii Kai’s official owner, industrialist Edgar Kaiser, has indicated he will place the boat up for sale soon. Kaiser had given to the crew to race this year. And among prospective buyers is Bill Boeing, Jr., whose own entry in the Sahara Cup, Miss Wahoo, was plagued with trouble all through the Sahara Event.

Regas won the Sahara Cup with a total of 1100 points, although he was beaten in the final heat by Thriftway Too driven by Brian Wygle. The final heat was run in gathering gloom and high winds and only three boats finished. Wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour swept the course.

The Kai, her exhausts flaming a weird blue in the gathering dusk, clocked 97.035 to Thriftway Too’s 97.323 in the championship heat. It was Regas’ only defeat in the two-day racing event. He won heats Saturday and Sunday easily.

Rough water forced Miss Seattle out with a smashed sponson and also cracked a sponson on Miss Wahoo, eliminating her from a chance at the final.

"It was dark and it was cold," said Regas, his teeth chattering in the darkness after the final heat. Handlers of Thriftway Too were so overjoyed at Wygle’s surpise victory over Regas that they tossed Wygle into the water. The Too finished third overall with 700 points running second to the Kai in Sunday’s first heat. Miss U.S. IV, with a second and two thirds in three heats amassed 750 points for second place.

Maverick and Miss Bardahl, who had a chance to beat or tie Hawaii Kai for the overall title, never did make the final heat. Maverick, with Bill Stead, Reno, driving, got a good start in the finale but blew its engine going into the first turn.

"I was going good," said Stead, "when suddenly the front end of the engine let go. It caught fire – the biggest fire I’ve ever seen in a boat. I cut across the roostertails of Thriftway Too and Miss U.S. IV to put out the fire." They towed Stead in and restarted the final race.

About the same time as Stead’s accident, Miss Seattle hit a wave and tore a gaping hole in her left sponson. She came back to the pits under her own power, but through for the day. Norm Evans, who won a Saturday heat in Miss Bardahl and was third in a Sunday heat, languished helplessly on the sidelines trying to start his motor through the entire final heat. He got it started just as the race ended.

In the restart of the final heat (due to the Maverick fire), it was Hawaii Kai, Thriftway Too, Miss U.S. IV and Fascination, which did not qualify but was able to enter because of damage to other qualifiers. Regas had the championship assured before the final heat started. None of the other boats running against him could have overcome his point lead after Maverick and Bardahl dropped out.

"I just wanted to place, not wreck the equipment," Regas said. But the way he battled Thriftway Too in the final looked like he was serious about winning. Regas repeatedly caught the larger Too in the turns but lost ground on the straightaways. The Too led from the starting gun.

In an earlier Sunday heat race, Regas trounced Wygle by a good margin, averaging 94.512 to the Too’s 92.616.

The final day was cold and miserable and Sahara Hotel officials estimated that crowd of 50,000 or more would have attended had the weather been better. As it was, the two-day event drew 54,727, National Park Service officials said.

Because of the weather Sunday, nearly the entire limited hydroplane racing schedule had to be cancelled. Two heats were run in Cracker Box and Pacific One Design Hydroplane classes before officials called off the racing, including a scheduled race between Italian Ezio Selva and American 7-liter hydroplanes.

Las Vegas Review-Journal. All rights reserved.

[Thanks to Ted Shenenberg for help in preparing the above articles. --LF]

*  *  *

Two Coast Boats Win at Las Vegas

Miss Bardahl, Hawaii Kai Capture Heats in Sahara Cup Hydroplane Test

Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 12 [1957] (AP) — The favored Hawaii Kai III and Miss Bardahl, both of Seattle, won their heats today in the second annual Sahara cup races for unlimited hydroplanes on Lake Mead.

Jack Regas of Livermore, Calif., piloted Hawaii Kai III around five laps of the three-mile course at 106.893 miles an hour in the second heat.

Norm Evans drove Miss Bardahl, owned by Norm Christiansen, at 97.297 miles an hour in winning the first heat. Each winner collected 400 points.

Miss U.S. IV, piloted by Don Wilson of Detroit, finished second in the second heat for 300 points. Thriftway II was forced from the race when its engine went dead on the second lap. Miss Seattle couldn’t start.

In the first heat, Breathless II, owned and driven by Jay Murphy, Piedmont, Calif., was second. Maverick, the W.T. Waggoner boat from Phoenix, Ariz., driven by Bill Stead, was third for 225 points.

The fourth entry in the first heat, Miss Wahoo of Seattle, owned by William E. Boeing, Jr. and driven by Mira Slovak, was leading by a quarter-mile in the second lap when she lost her rudder and was forced out.

Three heats will be run tomorrow. Cumulative points from all heats determine the winner.

*  *  *

Sahara Cup Goes to Hawaii Kai III

Regas’ Hydroplane Second in Final Heat — Two Craft Disabled

Boulder City, Nev., Oct. 13 [1957] (AP) — Hawaii Kai III, driven by Jack Regas finished second in the fifth and final heat today to capture the Sahara Cup for Unlimited Class hydroplanes.

Brien Wygle of Seattle drove Thriftway Too to victory in the heat with an average speed of 97.323 miles per hour. The race was held on wind-ruffled waters in near-darkness.

Two of the six entries were forced out. Miss Seattle, driven by Chuck Hickling, smashed a hull sponson. Maverick, driven by Bill Stead, caught fire. Stead, a Reno, Nev., rancher, steered into the spray thrown up by tow other boats, extinguishing the blaze. He was unhurt.

Third in the final heat was Miss U.S. IV, driven by Don Wilson of Detroit. Fascination, piloted by Bob Gilliam of Seattle, was fourth.

Hawaii Kai totalled 1,100 points, followed by Miss U.S. IV, 750; Thriftway Too, 700, and Miss Bardahl and Maverick, 625 each. Regas is from Livermore, Calif.

Hawaii Kai, owned by Regas and his crew, won an earlier heat today before a crowd of 15,000 averaging 94.512 m.p.h. The craft also won one of yesterday’s three heats on Lake Mead. Each heat comprises five laps around a three-mile course.

(Reprinted from the Associated Press, October 13, 1957)

Final Results







Hawaii Kai III




Miss U.S. IV




Thriftway Too




Miss Bardahl (1)




Maverick (1)




Breathless II 469



Miss Wahoo 300



Miss Seattle (1) 169



Fascination (1)  



Whiz-ski [7-litre]  


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