It was not long before it was obvious to Fageol, the Detroit contingent and to everyone else at the Mapes Cup that Seattle had plenty to offer. Hawaii Kai beat Gale V going away. Thriftway Too, so brand new that it was hardly broken in, and an experimental design to boot (the driver sits ahead instead of behind the engine), thrashed Gale VI.
This gratified the Seattlites and Lou Fageol equally, but for different reasons. The Seattle people had their ax to grind, but Fageol had supplied the Rolls-Royce engines for both the Kai and Thriftway Too, and this was by way of being a vindication of Fageol's theories on unlimited power plants.
As president of Twin Coach Co. (motor coach and marine engines, founded by his father), Fageol not only had the distinction of being the sole corporation president ever to drive an unlimited (or probably any other class, for that matter), but he also has had a great deal to do with motors. He made a shrewd guess back in 1945 and picked up 25 Rolls-Royce fighter plane engines at a war surplus price of $500 apiece. At that time, all unlimited hydros used the Allison airplane engine, but Fageol liked the looks of the Rolls better.
The first Rolls to go into an unlimited went into Slo-Mo V in 1953. In 1954 Slo-Mo V took the Gold Cup in a walkaway with Lou Fageol driving.
"I could have ridden around the course with my feet on the dashboard and still have won," Fageol recalls calmly. "The only reason I didn't run away and hide was that it would have made a bad race."
The first boat owner to whom Fageol sold a Rolls after the demise of the Slo-Mos was Edgar Kaiser. Kaiser put the engine into the Hawaii Kai in time to win the Rogers Memorial at Washington, D.C. last year and then the Sahara Cup at Lake Mead.
Fageol has a ready comparison on the potency of the Rolls. "With the Allisons in the Slo-Mos—and we had as good Allisons as anyone," he says—"the best time we got from 80 to 140 mph was 12½ seconds. With the Rolls we did it in eight. They say that in the Kai they are doing it in less than six."
Fageol sold his Rolls stockpile at $2,500 apiece. "I had more in them than that," he says. "I had stored them and run maintenance on them since 1945. Also, I had to do a lot of research on them. A plane engine does not have to accelerate or stop as quickly as an unlimited hydro engine. Stan Sayres and I pioneered the rebuilding of the Rolls so that it could jump to top speed or stop dead within seconds. Between what Stan spent and what I spent, the development of the quill shaft on the supercharger alone cost us $30,000.
"A good Allison," Fageol concluded, "costs $4,000 to $5,000 now. I could have gotten twice as much for the Rolls, but I don't need the money, for one thing."
Heat 2A of the Mapes Cup, with a Rolls engine riding around in the Hawaii Kai again, made the time and money spent by Fageol seem a good investment. Even though Jack Regas, the tightly wound-up little driver of the Kai, went roaring out of the pits before the five-minute gun had been fired and thus missed a chance to synchronize his stop watch with the starter's clock, he managed to synchronize by sighting the puff of smoke from the gun (its sound is inaudible to drivers over their engines) and he got off to a good start. Right then a lot of smart money on the Gold Cup shifted to the Kai; when she really got rolling, the rest of the field looked as though it were still tied up at the pits.