1948 Henry Ford Memorial
Leading Speed Boat Drivers Set For Ford Trophy Race in Detroit Saturday
Event Lures Starts of Gold Cup Fleet
Lombardo Among Speed Boat Pilots to Race Saturday for Henry Ford Award
Tune-Up for Big Classic
Mel Crook Expected to Enter as Interest Grows in This Country and Canada
By Clarence E. Lovejoy
This is a year when they're all trying to get into the Gold Cup act. If even half of America's blue ribbon speed boat class, half the owners and half the drivers of the number now fidgeting and itching for a crack at the famous old trophy at Detroit Aug. 28 roars out to the starting line, it will still be the biggest fleet in the memory of man.
And probably the fastest fleet. now that so many challengers have powered their hulls with Allison aircraft engines.
It wasn't so many years before the war when Gold Cup regatta moguls literally had to beg competitors to enter. This was back in the era of Horace Dodge, Benny Hill, George Reis, Bill Horn, Vic Kliesrath, Hubert Lucker, Vincent Bendix, Scotty Dunsford and Jack Rutherfurd. In one race — 1936 — only one boat finished. This was Dodge's Impshi, driven by the visiting Englishman, Kaye Don. In 1935 only two finished, Reis El Lagarto and the Kliesrath-Bendix Hotsy Totsy II.
Score of Craft in Sight
But it will be different this year. Counting all noses, there are at least a score of Gold Cup craft either actually ready or in sight. Moreover, there is a brisk new competition among old traditional clubs and new upstarts among regatta groups which are trying to get into the Gold Cup picture with preliminary race meets.
The procession has started and will fill the next two months with excitement. Last week Guy Lombardo appeared at the Wilson Point Regatta near Baltimore and ran fifteen miles with his rebuilt, repowered and renamed Tempo. On Saturday of this week several more will come out from hiding and join Lombardo in the Henry Ford Memorial Trophy Race on the Detroit River.
The Gold Cup fleet will take advantage of other regattas before the big day for further tune-ups and preliminaries, especially the Cambridge Y.C. event on Maryland's Eastern Shore on Aug. 14 and, of course, at the Red Bank National Sweepstakes Aug, 21 and 22.
Old Drivers Returning
This year will see a scrambling of old drivers returning to the regatta courses and new drivers changing boats. The winning combination last summer of Danny Foster at the wheel of Miss Peps V, owned by the Dossin Brothers of Detroit, has been dissipated.
The Dossins have commissioned Clell Perry, who won the 1937 Gold Cup in Herb Mendelson's Notre Dame, to design and construct a new speed boat to be called Miss Pepsi. Although he was nearly killed in a Detroit accident and has been crippled for a decade, Perry probably will follow his urge to drive again. Indeed, Foster has recently been on the make for a new driving assignment.
In addition to the popular Lombardo, Eastern regatta fans are interested in the expected entry of Mel Crook, the retired undefeated National Sweepstakes champion. He, like many of the others, acquired an Allison engine and has been readying it for his rebuilt hull, famous in pre-war days under the name of Betty V.
Crook has an aura of mystery about his Gold Cup plans. Lou Eppel has been aiding and abetting in his preparations and, to a lesser extent, his cousin Bill Josselyn.
New Boat for Lynn
It would be hard to throw a rock without hitting some Gold Cup aspirants. The are beginning to emerge and stick up their heads in various parts of this country and Canada. Even South Africa has likely entry in Maurice E. Bothner of Johannesburg. Although the U.N. many not recognize the Gold Cup officially, it appears to be a fact that some desirable international amity is being engendered. Canada expects to be represented at Detroit by E.A. Wilson of Ingersoll, Ont., with his Miss Canada III and perhaps by Miss Windsor, owned by Lorne A. Armstrong of Windsor, Ont.
Harry Lynn of Lake Hopatcong, N.J., is planning to have a new boat and the Californian, Morlan Visel, has been nominated by a challenge of the Lido Isle Y.C. of Newport Beach, Calif., for his entry, Hurricane IV.
But most of the craft will be from the Midwest. Included probably will be Albin Fallon's Miss Great Lakes from Detroit, Bill Cantrell's Why Worry from Louisville, Ky., Lou Fageol's So-Long from Silver Lake, Ohio; E.D. Stair Jr.'s Katy Did from Grosse Pointe, Mich.; Oliver M. Elam Jr.'s Mercury from Ashland, Ky.; Jack Schafer's new Such Crust from Detroit, Cam Fischer's Miss Cincinnati IV from Cincinnati; the My Sweetie, probably to be entered by Ed Gregory Jr. and Ed Schoenherr of Detroit; the Let-'er-go Gallagher, owned by a Detroit syndicate; G.D. Warren's expected craft from Detroit.
Perhaps even the famous Notre Dame, pre-war Gold Cup winner, will be back in competition under somebody's colors, although Mendelson has quit racing and has moved from Detroit to California.
(Reprinted from the New York Times July 4, 1948)