1954 Buffalo Launch Club Regatta

Records Set at Buffalo

The Buffalo Launch Club's Al Endres Memorial Regatta, Aug. 14-15, drew drivers from Florida, California, a dozen other states and Canada. [Nine days after winning the 1953 Buffalo races, Al Endres collapsed and died after winning the Regatta at Syracuse, NY. He was just 29. —LF]. With a big field in every event, keen competition was felt in the record and near record-breaking speeds attained over the 2½-mile course. As well as a new world record for Class D service runabouts, nine other course records were shattered — four of them twice.

The world mark was set by Harry Bickford, of Hampton, Va., in the second heat of the national championship event for Class D, E, and F service runabouts. In his 16' Skip, Bickford won the two heats at 48.257 m.p.h. and 50.723 m.p.h. The previous world record for the class was 49.342.

Russell Kirkpatrick, of Clarksburg, W.Va., driving the late Al Endres' national champion Sliver, failed to finish the second heat after winning the first and had to concede the national championship in Class E service to Bill Engle, of Washington, Pa., driving Miss You. H. G. Hibbert from Miami, Fla., driving Sam DuPont's Nitrogen, carried off the Class F honors with two firsts and a course record of 47.569 m.p.h.

Bob Schicora, of Kenmore, N.Y., won the 48 cu. in. event driving his Mad Atom when Sherman Crichfield and Tom Hanley both chalked up DNFs in the first heat. In the second heat, however, Hanley drove the Why Worry, from Detroit, to a new course record for 48s of 54.745 m.p.h. to win the heat from Sherman Crichfield, of St. Petersburg, Fla., driving Rebel Angel.

Driving Frank Hearn's 135, Chromium, and his 266, Chro-Mate, Ron Musson, from Akron, Ohio, drove four perfect but spine-chilling heats to win both events. His 76.013 m.p.h. in the second heat of the 266 race established a new course mark. With a 71.599 m.p.h. clip in the second heat of the 135 event another course mark was broken by Musson.

In the Canadian One-Design runabout race, Pete Burchell, of Perth, Ont., and James Greenhalgh, of Toronto, each won a heat to tie on points but better elapsed speed for the 10-mile distance gave Greenhalgh the silverware.

Although Bob Schroeder failed to start his My Ambition IV in the first heat of the 225 race he broke a course record in the second heat with a blistering 69.311 m.p.h. Henry Vogel, of Webster, N.Y., driving My Sin II, won the event with a first and a second. Chuck Hunter, of Columbus, Ohio, was second while Schroeder's points for one first gave him a third. Vogel did better in the 135 restricted-to-gasoline race when he drove Norm. Berry's Woofen to two firsts and established a course record at 65.471 m.p.h.

Ed Endres, of Buffalo, drove his Dawn fearlessly and at a terrific pace, with complete abandon on the turns, to win the first heat of the Class E racing national championship event, only to learn he had beat the gun at the start. But he had led the winner, Ed Brown, of Sacramento, Cal., into a new course record at 63.247 m.p.h. In the second heat Brown held a comfortable lead until he broke down half way around the last lap. Bob Willis, of Long Beach, Calif., driving Roughneck, won the heat and, with a second in the first heat, earned the national title for the class. Sherman Crichfield, of St. Petersburg, Fla., ran second.

With two firsts and a course record, the 7 litre national championship event was won by Ray Fageol, son of Lou Fageol, driving So Long. Fageol's best speed was 73.92 m.p.h. Second in both heats and in the race was B. G. Bartley, Jr., of Columbus, Ohio, in Wildcatter.

There were 12 starters in the Unlimited race, one heat of 10 miles. Three were 7 litre boats, the remainder 265 and 225 hydros. The start was a starter's dream and even at the first turn, over three-quarters of a mile away, at least six boats hit the mark together in a towering shower of spray. All down the back stretch the boats kept changing positions and it was evident the race of the regatta was taking place.

But the pace had to tell. First, Art Hatch, of Hamilton, driving Costa Living, retired. Then when running a close second and third to the leader, Ron Musson in Chro-Mate, Dr. Paul Latour's two entries Escapade I and II conked out. They only carried enough gas for a five-mile race. This left Musson with a handsome lead with a lap and a half to go, but he drove at unslackened speed and finished 25 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, and with a 75.440 m.p.h. average, set another course record for Buffalo. Tommie Turner driving Joe Less' Mammy's Mink finished second.

—Bob Finlayson

(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1954)