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FINTAILED BRUTES, BUZZING HORNETS
Melvin Crook
November 29, 1954
The U.S. powerboat fraternity, growing ever larger, looks back on its liveliest season yet, with racing at a peak while everything from Gold Cup hydroplanes to the fast and sassy Class JU outboard stocks burn up the water
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November 29, 1954

Fintailed Brutes, Buzzing Hornets

The U.S. powerboat fraternity, growing ever larger, looks back on its liveliest season yet, with racing at a peak while everything from Gold Cup hydroplanes to the fast and sassy Class JU outboard stocks burn up the water

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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.

CRUSADERS AT SEATTLE

Since Sayres' 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).

Detroit's grand 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.

The two 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.

Following the 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 Madison, Ind.

INVADERS AT MIAMI

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