"Muncey," said Fageol, "is the better of the best."
Then, on what should have been the last lap for Miss Thriftway, she was flagged to go one more. The judges had ruled she crossed the line ahead of the gun, and this relegated her to second place. Muncey probably just shrugged his shoulders when he saw the telltale flag. He and Miss Thriftway are the hard-luck twins of unlimited racing. He lost the 1955 Gold Cup by four seconds which cost him 400 bonus points, even though he won the final heat. After the 1956 Gold Cup, he had to fight three months before he got his disqualification reversed and finally got possession of the trophy rightfully his. The fact that sequence pictures of the Mapes Cup later showed that not only Miss Thriftway but also Miss Wahoo jumped the final gun fitted into the pattern. It had no effect on race standings, anyway—Wahoo had all the bonus points—but it did have an effect on the Gold Cup officials, who announced that they were going to use an electric-eye camera to monitor starts.
A surprising Miss Bardahl, homemade as she was, started third and finished third, ahead of Gale VI, getting an excellent drive by Norm Evans and, presumably, a boost from the product of the fuel outfit whose name she bears.
Said a disgruntled Detroiter: "It's getting bad. Here a guy in Seattle builds a boat in his backyard and he's beating us."
Lee Schoenith (son of the owner) came in a disappointed fourth over-all in Gale VI, the only boat at Tahoe that had twin engines. (Gale V and Miss Seattle also sputtered out.) "We've had eight unlimiteds in the family," said Schoenith, "and I'll be darned if they don't seem to be getting worse."
Schoenith, however, is too ebullient to stay in a temper long. He was soon going around telling the other drivers that at Seattle he would be turning on that other engine.
With that it was all over but the ceremony. The Wahoo crew threw Slovak into cool Lake Tahoe several times for the cameras, despite his yelling protests: "I can't swim!" Reno Hotelman Charles Mapes, donor of the trophy, fell off Miss Wahoo of his own accord while trying to hand Slovak the giant cup. After that, everyone packed the big boats onto their trailers and, after the inevitable banquet had been held, headed for home.
Detroit soon managed to recover from despair. The motor-city hydroplane people have been making warlike noises ever since the Mapes Cup—some of them probably meaningful. They have their own top driver in Fred Alter, who last year put Such Crust III through Gold Cup qualifying laps faster than Shanty. Alter, still untried against Seattle drivers this year, will be at the Gold Cup, driving either Miss U.S. I or Miss U.S. IV—fast and new—owned by ex-Detroiter George Simon. Detroit Breadman Jack Schafer's Such Crust III will be there, too. The Windmill Pointe Yacht Club will send tough Chuck Thompson to drive his Short Circuit. And the Gales will be there. Lee Schoenith now cheerily blames high altitude for the Gale boats' lack of speed. If this is so, no one can write off Lee or Gale V Driver Bill Cantrell—a veteran full of hydroplane guile.
The West has a few bench warmers that haven't been really tested yet, including one sure eye opener. There's the Tri-City Syndicate's Adios and there's a Skyway and a Whiz-Ski out of Seattle, a Miss Rocket out of Tacoma, a Breathless and Breathless II out of Tahoe—and now a Seattle mechanic named Armand Swensen has brought out a cross between a boat and a seaplane which he calls a one-pointer (see page 43), which he intends to enter in spite of the fact that some wags claim he'll be disqualified for failing to touch down on the finish line.
And although Lou Fageol retired temporarily to Kent, Ohio and a gray flannel business suit, nothing short of a natural catastrophe will keep him—or 499,999 others—at home when the big boats go at it in Seattle.