By a postrace Gold Cup ruling last week, hydroplane officials ruled out complete engine changes in one-day races. This is an obvious move in the right direction, to prevent affluent owners from beating down their opposition with spare engines, spare parts and unlimited resources. The ruling strengthens my belief that the Rolls-Royce engine, with its superior staying power, will replace the souped-up Allisons now in use. The ruling clearly is a return to the original Gold Cup concept, that boat and engine must go the full 90 miles. It is a constructive move against merely bolting "hot rod" engines together for the purpose of winning a single heat.
Miss Thriftway won her Gold Cup with the same Rolls-Royce engine that went 90 miles at Lake Tahoe only three weeks before. Both Maverick and Shanty I, to take opposite examples, underwent complete engine changes before the final Gold Cup heat. So did several other Allison-powered contenders. The "hot" fuels used in these engines, involving mixtures of nitro-methane and alcohol, result in a dreadful and expensive engine attrition, not to mention the danger of a tragic fire or explosion. I can foresee a time, not distant, when the drivers themselves will force on conservative owners a change to the Rolls-Royce engine. Bill Boeing, in spite of his victory at Tahoe, plans to replace his Allisons with Rolls-Royces in the near future. And it certainly is no secret that Russ Schleeh and Bill Stead, Waggoner's two drivers, have put him on notice that if he wants to win future races, he will have to put more power under their feet. As yet Waggoner hasn't shown any signs of wanting to change engines. But his only alternative is to dream up another way of getting more power out of the Allison engine. If he manages to do that, he will have solved quite a problem.
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