1925 Fisher Allison Trophy
Miami Beach Stages Brilliant Regatta
Fisher-Allison and Dodge Memorial Trophy Races and the New Biscayne Bay
Baby Class Feature Interesting Program
By Normann Kendall
On the sheltered waters inside of Miami Beach and with beautiful Biscayne Bay as a background, Miami pulled off one of the finest speedboat regattas ever witnessed in this country on March 19th, 20th and 21st. The regatta drew thousands of spectators to Miami Beach where, beneath luxurious palm trees, they were treated to all the thrills of which a speedboat regatta is possible.
The Fisher-Allison Trophy Race was staged at Miami for the first time in several years and was keenly contested, as Webb Jay had two legs on the coveted cup and "Gar" Wood one. The first heat brought forth three contestants: Baby Gar IV owned by G. A. Wood, Adieu V owned by Webb Jay, and Baby Gar V driven by Philip Wood, a brother of G. A. Wood.
The race was run in 50 mile heats, the course being two miles in length. Webb Jay got away in front of the bunch in the first heat and worked out a comfortable lead which he gradually extended to a wide gap at the halfway mark. Baby Gar IV then got going and began creeping up on Adieu. It looked like an exciting finish until Adieu developed motor trouble and Baby Gar IV passed her for an easy win, her time being 1 hour, 3 minutes and 13 seconds, or 47.4 miles per hour. Baby Gar V finished second.
The second heat was also unfortunate for Adieu. Webb Jay drove a splendid race until the seventeenth lap, when he hit a submerged obstruction which drove the propeller through the bottom of the boat. Making a quick turn for the boat house, he reached it just in time to be hauled out before sinking. Baby Gar IV won the heat. By winning these heats "Gar" Wood got a second leg on the trophy. Another race for this event will probably be held at Detroit during the summer.
* * *
While possibly not as exciting as the fifty-mile-an-hour clip of the Fisher-Allison fliers, the Chance Race which followed it kept the crowd which lined the shore in a continuous uproar. Eighteen boats of every size and type, from large yachts to small open motor boats, express cruisers, and coast guards boats participated. The rough going proved almost too much for some of the smaller boats. They would just get settled down to comfortable running when an express cruiser, racing around at forty miles an hour, would pass them, showering their occupants with spray and almost swamping the little fellows on the turns. Baby Gar IV, driven by "Gar" Wood, still warm from the previous race, waded past all corners with the exception of young Lynch, driving a Baby Gar for his father, S. A. Lynch, of Atlanta. On the second turn Lynch took the wrong course by mistake, thereby losing considerable time. He opened up wide when he saw his mistake and by careful maneuvering through the traffic jam ahead of him, he still had a chance to win the race, running neck and neck with Baby Gar IV, when a short circuit put him out of the running. Howard Lyons, in Baby Cub, took second place. Shadow H, a handsome express cruiser owned by E. A. Sprift, came in third. Other contestants included Fleetwood III, owned by Commodore J. Perry Stoltz and Fleetwood, Jr., driven by Mrs. Stoltz. The latter was the only boat driven by a woman in the race and she handled her little flyer like a veteran.
All in all, it was a most amusing event for the spectators, but for the owners of the little boats, it was anything but funny. There remained no question in their minds as to why it was called a "Chance" Race.
Friday's session was an innovation in speedboat contests that went far to satiate any craving for thrills on the part of the spectators. This was the race for the Biscayne Bay Babies — a one-design class of eleven boats, each brilliantly striped with distinguishing hues and capable of speeds up to forty miles per hour. They were driven by eleven professional automobile racing drivers which had been collected by Carl Fisher. These boats were designed by John Hacker and built by the Purdy Boat Company and each was powered with a 6-cylinder 100 h.p. Scripps engine. These engines had been tuned up before the race in special time trials so that, theoretically, each boat was equal in speed to the others. They were handled by one man only, and the difference in weight of the drivers was compensated for by ballast. Among the noted racing drivers were Louis Chevrolet, Tommy Milton, Ira Vail, Jerry Wonderlich, Morton L. Corum and others.
The event was run in six 12-mile heats, and these produced as thrilling races as have ever been seen. Although the drivers had all made names for themselves on the automobile tracks, none of them had ever driven a speed boat before. They found it quite different tearing through the water at forty miles an hour in a boat no larger than a small yacht tender, with ten others bunched around them, each striving to gain the lead at every turn. The drivers were allowed two days before the race to get familiar with their boats.
The start of the race in this class took place under ideal conditions with a cool breeze, hardly enough to ruffle the surface of the bay. Every one of the heats was a mad scramble from the starting line to the first turn, where those unlucky enough not to be in the lead were badly buffeted by the terrific wash of the boats ahead. Thanks to a large wooden-dialed clock which marked the seconds of the last minute, and which was devised by Eddie Edenburn, of the Detroit Yacht Club, all of the boats got away to a flying start. The six heats of this races proved very popular with the spectators, as the result depended on the skill of the drivers, and theoretically, not on the speed of the boats themselves.
Driving the most consistent race of any of the professionals, Louis Chevrolet took first place in Hialeah, with a total of 1,654 points, thereby winning the greatest prize money, $1,250. He just nosed out Coral Gables I, M. L. Corum, who annexed 1,643 points. Two other equally well-known drivers were placed third and fourth, namely, Ira Vail and Tommy Milton, with Jerry Wonderlich, fifth. The whole event was a fine example of what can be done in one-design racing with engines properly tuned up, as was done in this case by William Taylor, chief engineer of the Scripps Motor Company.
* * *
The race for the Dodge Memorial Trophy was a new event, sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association, and was the first running of the race for a trophy presented by Horace E. Dodge in memory of his father. The race was open to displacement craft irrespective of length or power, provided that the piston displacement did not exceed the cube of the boat's water line length divided by 25. The boat winning the first four heats gets the custody of the trophy and holds it until the next race, which will be held in August at Manhasset Bay at the time of the Gold Cup Races. The entries in this event were Curtiss Wilgold II, owned by R. V. Williams, Baby Gar IV and Baby Gar V, and Miss Syndicate, driven by C. F. Chapman. Baby Gar V won the first heat by a comfortable margin over Baby Gar IV. Miss Syndicate was forced out of the race with engine trouble. The winner's time was 16 minutes, 5 seconds over the twelve-mile course. The second heat showed some of the fastest time of the whole regatta. Curtiss Wilgold II stepped out in the lead and showed a clean pair of heels all the way, Baby Gar IV being second. The last two heats went to Gar Wood's Baby Gar V somewhat easily though not without a struggle. Williams, in Curtiss Wilgold II, forced the race all the way but could not get by the two "Gar" Wood boats. Gar Wood thus won the first leg on the trophy by taking four out of the five heats.
* * *
In the Free-for-All, Rodman Wanamaker, driving Little Old Man II, walked away from all contestants, making the twenty-four miles in 32 mins. and 41 secs.
(Reprinted from Yachting, May 1925)