1956-20 (Sharkey) / 5620 (UNJ)
George Simon’s Miss U.S. II
by David Greene
Miss U.S. II was designed and built in 1956 by Les Staudacher. It was to be a replica of the first Miss Thriftway. The U.S. II was either 28½, 29 or 30 feet long, but was definitely 11½ feet wide. Miss Thriftway was 28½ x 11’ 4” and weighed 4500 lbs. In contrast U.S. II .Was 4800, 5000 or 5500 lbs. Since Les Staudacher never built a hull under 29 feet. The U.S. II was probably 29 x 11½ weighing 4800 lbs. Since it was characterized by Staudacher as being light - 5200 lbs. Was about average.
Jack Bartlow had finished out 1955 in the first Miss U.S. And began 1956 in the Miss U.S. II cockpit. Bartlow had won the Will Rogers Memorial and his was the only boat at the end of 1955 that could give Danny Foster and Tempo VII a tussle, albeit for only a limited period.
The first three eastern races were rough water contests except for the final heat at Picton, Ontario. The Windsor Maple Leaf Trophy was canceled due to rough water, but they did get in the two sections of Heat One. Miss U.S. II lost to Dora, My Sweetie but defeated Miss Supertest II - a sensation in early 1955. However at picton U.S. II and supertest traded heat victories - the calmer water of heat two favored the George Simon entry. Entering the final U.S. II had a chance for victory, but finished third behind Supertest II and the new Gale V. Gale V was new and a rough rider. Joe Taggart took over U.S. II briefly at St. Clair and was defeated even by Chuck Thompson’s diminutive Short Circuit.
Don Wilson took over the U.S. II for Seattle to compete on the bathtub-smooth waters of Lake Washington. Miss U.S. II drew Slo-Mo-Shun IV in the first heat and finished only 5 seconds back after 30 miles. In the next heat Wilson had trouble with Tempest (who, along with others, broke the 1955 lap record) and defeated the Miss Wahoo (a near contender) thus entering the final, U.S. II again had a chance for victory and a good one, as she had the fastest heat at that time and the only lap competitive with the ultimately winning Shanty I.
U.S. II was one of the leaders heading into the first turn, but then blew her engine. However she was the premier Detroit boat at the time as Miss Pepsi had yet to come out of retirement.
The George Simon entry apparently confirmed her status by winning the Silver Cup. However, she had trouble with the likes of Miss Wayne and Gale VI in the preliminary heats before taking the final from Dora, My Sweetie. The water was rough and Gale VI and Miss Wayne were far from top contenders. Thus Miss U.S. II figured to be a top contender if the 1956 Gold Cup water turned out to be smooth and a minor threat if the river came up rough.
Unfortunately the water was rough and U.S. II was in the middle of the pack while running. This was enough for Don Wilson and he vowed never to run the hull again. This opened the door for Doc Terry. He collected two third place finishes at the ‘56 President’s Cup, defeating Miss U.S. 1 driven by Jack Bartlow twice. As mentioned Bartlow had won a race with Miss U.S. 1 at the ‘55 President’s Cup Regatta.
Miss U.S. II was damaged and was held out of the 1956 Madison race although she was there being repaired, albeit not in time.
Miss U.S. 1, with Fred Alter at the wheel made a comeback and won at Madison posting a lap at 106 M.P.H. – fastest in the East in 1956 and in the ball park of what U.S. 1 could do with Bartlow at the wheel the previous year at Madison.
And, even though the U.S. II still had an outside shot at the high point championship, Miss U.S. 1 was taken to las vegas for the last race of the year.
At the end of 1956 Miss U.S. 1 was falling apart and Miss U.S. II was a handful most of the time. . Simon approached Dan Arena, the builder/designer of the first Miss U.S. to build a new Miss U.S. 1, but he declined and Les Staudacher got the job. At the same time Don Wilson had had great success with a Lauterbach limited Wa Wa Too. Thus, Wilson agreed to drive in 1957 if henry lauterbach built a new hull, which became Miss U.S. IV. Lauterbach was also given the job of straightening out the Miss U.S. II.
However, in testing the Miss U.S. II capsized, and Lauterbach drop sonsons did not make a difference. Miss U.S. II was given her final chance in defending her 1956 silver cup victory. Miss U.S. 1 had made a creditable showing at Seattle, but Miss U.S. IV was so wild she was withheld from the race. Thus, U.S. II got another chance, but she was so wild that she, too, was pulled from the race.
In the fall of 1959, the leaders of Tool Crib in Seattle were looking for a boat. They inquired about Miss U.S. IV, but settled on Miss U.S. II.
U-5 Miss Tool Crib failed to qualify for the 1960 Apple Cup with Del Fanning at the wheel, being outperformed by the Miss Everett (ex-Gale IV) - a tired boat after many races. At the Diamond Cup, unlike the Wickens Dollar Bill [$ Bill], Tool Crib again failed to qualify at Seattle Tool Crib improved to make the grade. She made the final heat, but was last all day long except for the second heat when she defeated Miss Everett. At the end of the season Miss Tool Crib retired along with Hawaii Kai III, Wahoo, Miss Bardahl and Breathless II.
Nevertheless, Tool Crib reared her ugly head one last time at the 1961 seafair regatta. In a relatively shrewd move Billy Schumacher chose the Tool Crib over Cutie Radio (ex-Gale IV), his mount in the previous race. Schumacher improved the hull’s performance by 7 M.P.H. over Del Fanning, but took second in the tail-enders’ race.
In 1957 Miss U.S. II had drop sponsons and was painted turquoise with a white tail fin. When delivered to Seattle she had no tail fin, but a white rear cowling.
Theoretically, Miss U.S. II might have had a chance in the 1957 Gold Cup as both new Miss U.S.’s were untested and Don Wilson had posted a 110 M.P.H. Lap with her at the 1956 Seafair and was a contender. However, after the 1957 Apple Cup, this was not nearly enough as her best lap translated to 104 M.P.H. On a three mile course. HawaII Kai III had 116, Miss Thriftway 109, and Maverick about 108.
[Reprinted from Thunderboat, May 2010]