1948 Calvert Trophy
Ballinger Wins Boat Race When Leader Overturns
By Larry Boeck, Courier-Journal Staff Writer
Out front by almost a half-mile and only 200 yards or so away from the day’s big victory, Warrier II flipped over on the stretch turn to lose a heartbreaker yesterday in the Ohio River speedboat regatta.
Ballyhoo, bouncing along a badly beaten second, passed the stricken ship to win the 10-mile free-for-all hydroplane feature and the famed Calvert trophy.
Approximately 5,000 spectators lining the sun-splashed river front had conceded the race to Ray Erickson, the hard-luck Columbus, Ohio, pilot, before his speedboat overturned. He was fished out of the water, an uninjured but sadly disappointed driver.
W. R. Ballinger, the Cincinnatian who piloted Ballyhoo to the victory, accepted the valued Calvert trophy with modesty.
When E. J. O'Malley presented the winner the cup in behalf of the donor, Ballinger sized up the race with “I was lucky -- but I’m happy I had to be the one to be behind Erickson.
Ballinger, however, had proved his skill earlier in the sunny, calm day. He had driven Ballyhoo -- which he had recently purchased -- to victory in the Division I -- 225 cubic inch event. And, in winning that event, he captured all three heats.
For the first two laps of the hydroplane feature, he made a race of it with the speeding, swashbuckling Warrior II. And, in those tense opening laps, the favored Miss Cincinnati also was in the running.
Erickson opened up in the third race to pull away with Warrior II and in the fourth lap he increased his already comfortable margin. Then, halfway through the stretch turn and far ahead of the other four entries in the field, his ship flipped over.
The Hermes, only Louisville entry, could not compete when driver Curly Carman developed pre-race engine trouble.
Winning Ballinger covered the 10-mile grind on a choppy, rough river in 59.444 minutes. He piloted a Ventnor boat with an 180-horsepower Gray engine.
Over 50 ships, from distant points throughout the country, competed in the successful regatta, first big one on the Ohio since 1938. And, as far as spectators and competitors alike were concerned, it was a smooth and fast moving affair. It gave every indication that speedboat racing, with careful and consistent guidance, again can become a major Louisville sport. That’s the aim of the sponsoring Falls Cities Boat Racing Association.
“We’ve got a few wrinkles to iron out and there are things we can -- and will -- do better,” said Commodore E. W. Jackson. “But we learned a lot and we’ll be ready for a bigger and better regatta next summer. On the whole, I'm well satisfied. Everyone connected with the regatta did a bang-up job.”
The regatta opened at 10 a.m. under clear, sunny skies, ideal for racing, with a novelty -- a sternwheeler race. Jim Stewart, Republican mayorality candidate, won the event.
Other major race winners were John Cramer, Dayton, Ohio, in the 135-cubic division: Erickson in the Division II -- 225 cubic inch division and Ballinger in the Division I -- 225 cubic inch division.
Class B Outboard — (1) Tom III, driven by Tom Maddox Louisville, 13.026 (First place only -- one heat)
Class C Outboard - Mr Bee driven by Leon Wilton, New Albany, 29,722. (First place only - one heat)
Stern-Wheel Race - (1) Uncle Dick, driven by Jim Stewart; (2) The Golden Toad, driven by Wallace Johnson (two places only - all of Louisville)
Division 135 Cubic Inch - (1) The Skid-do, driven by John Cramer, Dayton, Ohio, best heat 59.840 m.p.h (won all three heats). (2) Texan, driven by Fred Steed, Tyler, Texas. (3) Ventnor, driven by Harold Weeks, Dayton, Ohio. (Five miles — three heats)
Division I—225 Cubic Inch (1) Ballyhoo, driven by W. R. Ballinger, Cincinnati, best heat 59.920 mph (won all three heats); (2) Kentucky Babe, driven by Oliver M. Elam Jr, Ashland, Ky. (No third place — five miles - three heats)
Division II—225 Cubic Inch — (1) Warrior II driven by Ray Erickson, Columbus, Ohio, best heat 59.924 mph (Won all three heats); (2) The Columbus Babe, driven by C. G. Hunter, Columbus (No third place - three heats - five miles)
Free-for-All Hydroplanes - (1) Ballyhoo, driven by W. R. Ballinger, Cincinnati. Time 59:444; (2) Miss Cincinnati, driven by Dr. Robert, New Richmond, Ohio. 54:346 (3) Kentucky Babe, driven by Oliver M. Elam, Ashland, Ky. 54:344. (One heat—10 miles)
Service Runabouts Less Than 100 M.P.H. — (1) Beedle Bomb, drjven by W. H. Buckley and owned by Jack Veeneman, Louisville, 30 mph; (2) Temptation driven by James Noonan, Louisville, (No third — one heat—five miles)
Free-for-All Runabouts - (1) Were-Wolf driven by Buddy Weir, Louisville, 37 mph (2) Little Hal, driven by Wild Bill Cantrell, Louisville. (One heat - five miles)
Free-for-All Outboards — (1) Paul Hensley, Louisville, first place only (One heat — five miles).
(The Courier Journal, Mon. Jul 26 1948)