1950 APBA Unlimited Trophy
Lake Mead, Boulder City NV, November 11-12, 1950
Salton Sea 6, Lake Mead 1 (excerpt)
After four solid weeks of impeccable weather, a driving, chill nor'easter swept down from the snows of the Rockies on the morning before the start of the Mead speediest. It abated, but the lake, six miles out from Boulder City, stayed rough. Time trials planned for Friday (Nov. 11) were abandoned. Competition was slated for the next two days. During Friday the weather eased, but there was still a slight surge on the 10 by 115-mile lake below huge Hoover Dam come Saturday morning.
Despite it, Lake Mead's lone record (which helped prove a point) was hung up this day. Bouncing to straight-heat wins, Ed Parsley's B-Runabout Vina Mae III of Los Banos, California, was driven by Pete Coffee to turn 55.81 miles an hour and shatter her own world mark of 53.066 made at Salton Sea in 1949.
The day also offered an historic highlight. Thrilling 2,000 spectators, (a lot considering the per square mile population count in Nevada), three unlimited hydroplanes, after considerable preliminary jockeying, got over the line for the first time on a western course. It was slated as the first 15-miler in a four-heat quest of the $2,500 silver unlimited trophy.
With Ted Jones driving, Stanley Sayres' Slo-Mo-Shun IV, which had unbuttoned to a speed of some 140 m.p.h. in practice, toured at an easy 85 to win the first heat. The savor was lessened, however, when Such Crust II, running in second with Danny Foster at the controls for owner Jack Schafer, lost her prop in the second lap. The motor ran wild and the valves rammed into the head of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Damage was unrepairable. It was back to Detroit for a not yet really tested job. Placing second in the heat was Horace E. Dodge's slender-hulled, rough-water goer, My Sweetie, with Bill Cantrell driving.
The next heat, Slo-Mo-Shun IV was again leading when she sheared a propeller shaft and it was exit for America's wonder boat of 1950. From there it was to be all My Sweetie. The following day Cantrell and Dodge shared the wheel and cruised to two easy rough water wins (best lap at 85.7 miles an hour, Cantrell driving) over token competition by two 225-cubic inch hydroplanes, Firefly (Elmer Enquist) and George Matucci in his Californian—both batting into water far too rough for them.
Because of the misfortunes, the unlimited boats were never to reach Salton Sea. Considering all, owners Sayres, Schafer, Dodge and their crews earned unstinting plaudit.
The 135-cubic inch hydros (they repeated at Salton Sea) offered up the competitive highlight of the regatta, plus the prime casualties, in the first day of competition. The 17-boat field was so big qualifying heats were in order. In the first it was Blue Blaze II, Tom Caldwell : Joey Fred Galante; Avenger III Eddie Meyer. In the second: Skalawaggs, Roy Skaggs; Gee Whizz, Sid Street; Ranger II. Kenny Ingram. The finale: Street and Galante were first home only to be disqualified for jumping the starting gun and steady driving Eddie Meyer took the honors. During the melees Thom Cooper with Pops Tops from Kansas City was pitched from the boat in the second qualifying heat, hit by his sponson, which broke loose, and suffered a gashed eye. During the finale Skaggs netted a leg injury and Rich Hallett seriously pulled leg tendons which had him hopping around Salton Sea with one leg in a cast the next week. They were pitched from their boats on the straightway but strangely none of the 135s capsized.
Given weather on Sunday, Race Chairman Hitchcock promised running of at least a few time trials before the 9 a.m. competition start. Hope still rode, but during the night some vandal sabotaged the communication lines. Hope for trials were kaput. Even start of competition was delayed some 45 minutes while repair went on. During the day conditions weren't bad but kinesthetic storm surge bothered boats on the turns.
Suffice that, in the two competitive days, the lake never reached truly record placidity and nobody (except the bouncing Bs) seriously threatened records. The winners:
Nov. 10: M-hydroplane, Miss Shooting Star, George Steiner, Alhambra (30.759 m.p.h. best time made, record 38.379) ; 48-cubic inch inboard, Lou Kay, Lou Meyer, Jr., Los Angeles 51.575 b.t, record 55.659) ; C-Racing outboard runabout, Nix, Warren Painter, Glendale (51.341, record 53.191) ; A outboard hydroplane, Sweet Pea, Eddie Maroney, Phoenix, Ariz. (42.378 vs. 47.344) : Cracker Box inboard runabout, Ruthless, Kenny St. Oegger, Glendale (59.484 vs. 60.484) ; C-Service outboard hydro, Hey Wait, Glenn Burke, Chico, Calif. (44.665 vs. 47.670) ; B-Racing inboard runabout, (one heat raced) Vina Mae III, Pete Coffee, Los Banos (new record 55.81 over old mark of 53.066). 135-cubic inch inboard hydro. best time by Roy Skaggs, Long Beach (71.82 vs. his own 75.157 record made at Salton Sea with Mighty Chevron).
Nov. 11: B-outboard hydro, Little Valentine, Maroney again (47.898 vs. 53.004) ; C-Service outboard runabout, Green Diamond. Joe Proctor, Ventura (46.178 vs. 47.344) ; C-outboard hydro, U-56, Oliver K. Dupuis, Plains, Montana (48.361 vs. 57.325) ; 223-cubic inch inboard hydro, Division II, Copperhead II, Lorin Pennington, Santa Monica (69.071 vs. 74.67) ; Pacific One Design Hydroplane inboard, Dr. Louis Novotny, Los Angeles (52.083 vs. 53.763) ; F-Racing outboard hydroplane (one heat), Pappy, George Mishey, Phoenix (51.635 vs. 58.785) ; B-Racing inboard runabout (second heat), Vina Mae III (38.494 vs. her new 55.181 mark). As the B speed indicates, from here—and in still rougher water—times were unthinkable and finishing the only problem. The E-Racing inboard runabout competition went to Plastigo, Art Maynard, Long Beach and the 225-cubic inch inboard hydroplane, Division I, to Eega Beeva, Pete Pierce, San Gabriel.
It was touch and go but every class had at least one chance to run although many hot boats hadn't even been taken off the trailers. A score of others already had immediate future competition or speed potentials beaten out of them. Salton Sea was, as ever, still the unpredictable siren ahead. What with the A.P.B.A. slated for Nov. 13, even the swell Boulder City Jay Cee hosts agreed it better to abandon scheduled Nov. 14 mile trials as planned. It was comforting to know that any storms arising next day would be well sheltered—within walls of the Last Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas.
(Reprinted from Motor Boating, January 1951)
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