As the U.S.
powerboat season roared through its final weeks, racing enthusiasts could look
back on the liveliest summer in the history of the sport. The American Power
Boat Association reported at its annual meeting Nov. 14 in New Orleans that
4,774 boats are now registered in its 34 competition classes, ranging from the
tiny, class JU stock outboard runabouts to the unlimited inboard hydros up to
3,400 cu. inches of power plant and price tags up to $50,000.
The glamor boys
of the racing fleet this year, as in the past, were the owners and drivers of
these unlimited hydros, fin-tailed brutes that climax their season in the
annual run for the speedboat Gold Cup. Rivalry is just as fierce among the
thousands of entries in the lighter classes. For example, on a single day—Aug.
9—at the APBA one-mile speed trials at Seattle, 14 new world records were set.
But for concentrated effort, expense and the sheer power of the individual
entries, no other race can quite compare to the annual Gold Cup.
Under Cup rules,
the race is held in the home city of the previous year's winner. Through 1950,
Detroit had 16 of the 43 races. Then Stan Sayres of Seattle came into town with
his Slo-Mo-Shun-IV, won handily, and headed for home with the trophy.
victory, substantial fleets of Detroit challengers have made the long crusade
to the shores of Lake Washington attempting, without success, to bring back the
Cup (SI, Aug. 23). The intensity of their feeling and the quality of their
fleet both reached a peak in 1954. Joseph Schoenith's brand-new Gale IV (driven
by Bill Cantrell) and Gale V (handled by the owner's son Lee) were supported by
a couple of one-year-olds: Horace Dodge's My Sweetie Dora (Jack Bart-low
driving) and Miss U.S. (driven by owner George Simon).
strategy was to send Cantrell to cover Lou Fageol in Slo-Mo-V. Schoenith and
Simon were to stay with Slo-Mo-IV's Joe Taggart. Seattle, on the other hand,
planned to have Fageol and Taggart run a tight formation, driving almost
hand-in-hand; and they stuck to their plan as long as Taggart's faltering power
plant permitted him to keep the pace.
Westerners fought like fury to get both boats in front of the pack, then drove
side by side, or in echelon, adjusting their formation so as to place a
towering roostertail of water or a solid hull directly in the path of anyone
who tried to pass. Detroit drivers did their best to break through, but when
the 90-mile race was over, the Gold Cup was still in Seattle.
Gold Cup, Fageol announced his retirement and Sayres pulled his boats out of
competition for the remainder of the year. Fageol's departure from the Seattle
team matched the earlier retirement from the Detroit ranks of Jack Schafer,
owner of the Such Crust sisters, top contenders in previous races.
With Fageol and
the Mos out, Detroit got in a few licks of its own. Cantrell drove Schoenith's
Gale IV to a two-out-of-three victory in the President's Cup at Washington,
D.C., then moved to Elizabeth City, N.C., where he finished second behind Lee
Schoenith and wound up with a victory in the Indiana Governor's Cup near