Regas turned in a 95-plus average and put the Kai in a good position to take the 400 bonus points for the fastest heat and another 400 for the fastest race (three heats). Since the winning boat can pick up only 100 points a heat over the second-place boat (400 points to 300), bonus points more often than not mean the race.
Lou Fageol watched the Kai's performance with the wise and tolerant eye of a tribal elder to the unlimited clan. Having been honorably retired from active status two years ago at the age of 48 when the Slo-Mo V did an inside loop and dumped him into the water from a height of 60 feet, he was entitled to his position, and aware of it.
"Now take Regas," said he, waving a gentle hand at the course, "he's an outstanding driver. Has all kinds of courage and a good, heavy foot, but he hasn't worked out an ironclad system for being on the line when the gun goes off. That's why he often has to come up from behind.
"Ask anyone," said Fageol as objectively as if he were talking about someone else, "who was the master of the fast start, and they will say Lou Fageol."
He was, too. At its zenith, the "Fageol start" involved running away from the line a certain number of seconds, then turning around and coming back at dead-top racing speed—about 165 mph—from half a mile away. This was one of the things that helped Sayres keep the Gold Cup in Seattle, but it scared the livers out of some of the other drivers. Eventually, the permissible starting area in back of the line was restricted by means of a log boom.
Fageol had nothing but praise for the most unfortunate of the drivers in heat 2A: Russ Schleeh (see cover), the Air Force colonel who was last year's high-point man in the 13-race unlimited circuit.
Schleeh is as relaxed and tall-in-the-saddle as the next Westerner, but this year he has had nothing but trouble—engine trouble.
Shanty had a broken quill shaft in lap seven of her first heat—Schleeh was leading at the time—and in the present heat she lasted less than a lap before her engine blew up.
Schleeh, in characteristically wry fashion, delivered his own estimate of his performance from under a large white Stetson after the race. "I am getting to be known as the fastest sprint man on the circuit—always first in the first 100 yards."
"It's too bad," said Fageol when he saw Schleeh sitting dead in the water during heat 2A. "The colonel is a fine driver. He's got a fine attitude toward racing. Not a bit of fear when he's out on the course.