Slovak outsteadied the irrepressible Muncey at the start of heat 2B and hopped to a lead that Muncey couldn't seem to cut down for all his willingness to burn up the corners.
"Muncey's Rolls isn't turning over," said Fageol, leaning forward as Miss Thriftway went by. "It should be hitting 3,800 to 4,000 rpm. To my ear, it's down 700 or 800 from that. I think he's got too big a wheel—his propeller has too much diameter."
By the end of four laps, Slovak was the one who looked like a hot-rodder. He was leaving Muncey behind, and trying for the heat and race bonus points. When he came through on the final lap, he made a grandstand showing by sizzling over the finish line close to shore right under the noses of the crowd, waving. Well he might: he had turned in the fastest heat—98 mph.
The end of 2B brought a feverish bustle of preparations for the final heat 30 minutes away. Over in the Thriftway pit, Ted Jones supervised the choice of a new prop for Miss Thriftway and received compliments on his new forward-cockpit design, Thriftway Too, which had held a respectable third until her engine died. "I'm never going to build another boat with the driver behind the engine," Jones said. He went on to state that the lessening of driver fatigue in the new design was phenomenal. "Brien Wygle was ready to dance after coming out of the cockpit," Jones said.
Ted Jones was the principal designer for the Slo-Mo IV and Slo-Mo V, the prototypes of the modern unlimited, and in Thriftway Too he may have created another prototype.
Fageol has a lot of respect for Jones. "Now, if it wasn't for Jones," he said, "this whole sport might get static. He goes right ahead and comes out with something like Thriftway Too and makes it work."
In all the drama of hydroplane racing, nothing is more exciting than a close start of a final unlimited hydroplane heat. The start of the Mapes Cup final was close. It looked as though every driver had synchronized on the clock. Six boats—Hawaii Kai, Miss Thriftway, Miss Bardahl, Gale V, Gale VI and Miss Seattle came smoking down to the line, accelerating hard, suddenly jetting their stern plumes 60 and 70 feet in the air, closing in on each other until they were one grand melee of spray and thunder, hiding each other as they went gunning across.
Hawaii Kai's engine washed out at the first turn.
"Damn," said Fageol, raising his voice a quarter decibel, which was about as vehement as he ever gets.
Miss Thriftway, however, seemed to be holding up the honor of the Rolls engine men. She had on her new prop, and she opened water on Miss Wahoo and stayed ahead.