1957 Detroit Memorial

The Detroit Memorial Race of June 22, 1957

 

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1957 Detroit Memorial program, courtesy Ronald Van Proeyen
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The Ford Memorial Trophy is awarded to Fred Alter, driver of Such Crust III, for winning the 1957 Detroit Memorial Race. Left to right:: Raymond Warren, Alter, Jack Schafer, owner of Such Crust III, Frank Kirk, H. Alverson

 

Hats off to Walter Kade who was largely responsible for the mechanical success of Such Crust III, decisive winner of the Henry Ford Memorial Trophy Race on the Detroit River Saturday, June 22. Driver Fred Alter piloted Jack Schafer's twin-engine entry through extremely rough water to win the first heat, followed it by another in the second elimination contest, then topped his day of perfect racing by winning the final heat. Proof of the power developed by the recently repainted blue and white hull came at the start of each race entered. Such Crust forged ahead to take the lead on the first lap of each heat.

Water and weather conditions account for the comparatively slow average speed of 83.872 miles per hour posted by the winning boat for the three heats scheduled for five 3-mile laps. As the race progressed, mechanical troubles and hull failures attributed to the rough water conditions -- whipped up by the wind with gusts up to 28 mph -- sidelined several contenders.

In Heat 1A, Gale V with Bill Cantrell driving lasted one half lap before losing a sponson, part of her spoiler and forward decking from the terrific pounding at high speeds. On the fourth lap Art Asbury, driving the Canadian entry Miss Supertest, was thrown out when the boat, traveling very fast into the turn, hit the wave from Such Crust and spun. Art was pulled from the water unharmed but his boat continued on under power with the engine idling. When Supertest headed towards the middle of the course several patrol boats took up the chase.

Finally, Jack Bartlow, former driver of the Dora My Sweetie and Miss U.S., hopped aboard and steered the boat back to the pit area. In compliance with standard racing practice, the race was stopped by red flares as soon as the driver was flipped out. The heat was declared officially completed at the end of the third lap. Such Crust was the winner followed by Miss Wayne and Wha Hoppen Too.

Heat 1B was expensive on both hulls and equipment. Six boats were scheduled to compete but the What-a-Pickle I and II entries had engine troubles and failed to start. Halfway through the lap, Short Circuit, formerly the Tempo VII, with Chuck Thompson driving, hit very rough water that severely damaged her hull. Although the boat continued on to take third, it was withdrawn from further competition. It is believed the hull was literally "broken in half" as the bow section was not moving in unison with the tail section following the incident.

One the fourth lap, Lee Schoenith driving the remarkably smooth riding Gale VI was leading the former Gale IV, now re-named Wildroot Charlie, by almost six seconds when a propeller blade broke. Instantly the entire prop shaft was torn loose and pulled thru the bottom of the boat, taking the strut and intermediate bearings to the bottom of the Detroit River with it. Even the gear box was wrecked, too.

Bob Schroeder in Wildroot Charlie took over the lead and finished ahead of the two remaining boats in the heat -- Short Circuit and Ricochet. Rough water caused the winner to jump as much as 60 feet at a time and it left the water completely on each lap.

Consolidation of Heats 2A and 2B found five boats awaiting the starter's gun. All entries finished in the same position they had gained during the first lap with Such Crust winning easily, followed by Wildroot Charlie, Miss Supertest, Wha Hoppen Too and the twin-engine Miss Wayne.

Before the start of the final heat, there was a question as to whether Such Crust would compete. The entire runner had come off her right sponson leaving only the oak as a running surface. Layers of plywood were peeling off the bottom in the "tunnel" between the sponsons. What was originally heavy five-ply was reduced to a two- or three-ply in thickness by the action of the water. The decision to run only hard enough to win and save the boat was met in the first lap of the final heat by a thrilling challenge from both Miss Supertest and Wildroot Charlie.

All three boats made an excellent start and went into the first turn almost as one. Out of the turn and up the backstretch the three dueled with virtually no open water between the three hulls. For the first time during the day Supertest seemed to show the power in her 2,500-horsepower Rolls-Griffon engine. She challenged the two boats all the way up the backstretch until Such Crust forged ahead on the turn and never again lost the lead. The new driver in Miss Supertest, Art Asbury, was reportedly given instructions to hold the engine speed under 2,600 revolutions per minute. When more experimentation is completed with this engine and higher engine speeds attained, the boat appears to be a real contender for the Gold Cup race in Seattle this August.

With the exception of the last two boats, from the beginning of the second lap in the final heat, all retained their position. Such Crust led Miss Supertest by approximately four seconds at the finish, followed by Wildroot Charlie, Miss Wayne and Wha Hoppen Too. Miss Wayne appeared to be running well but never "pushed" by her driver-owner Bud Saile. Possibly he was breaking in his new gear box. Instead of each engine directly driving a propeller as it had in the past, this year the engines are coupled to a common gear box which in turn drives the two individual propellers. This keeps both props turning at the same speed and solves the problem of maintaining exact speed to both "screws" which turn in contra-rotating directions.

George Simon's Miss U.S. boats were not at the race. Your editor extends the sympathy of all the unlimited fans to George who was attending his sister's funeral in Detroit. There is a possibility he will take one boat to Tahoe and is almost certain to bring two to the Gold Cup in Seattle.

Because of the extensive damage to Gale VI, the Schoeniths will likely forego the Lake Tahoe race and send both the Gale V and Gale VI directly to Seattle around the first of August. However, Lee will be in Tahoe for the race where he has promised to drive one of the Murphy boats -- possibly Muvalong.

Competent sources predict Simon will be out to the Gold Cup race with a Rolls engine in his new Miss U.S. III [??]. George is currently "testing" the Rolls power plans and eastern sources report he recently exchanged three Allisons for one Rolls. Veteran Don Wilson of Dearborn is the probable driver. (Your editor predicts Simon will be the first of several to convert to the Merlin engine in the East.)

Eastern contenders report "Ted Jones is buying up all the Rolls engines he can find back there."

Following is a summary of the total points earned by the boats in the Detroit Memorial race:

Such Crust III 1,200
Wildroot Charlie 925
Miss Wayne 596
Miss Supertest 525
Wha Hoppen Too 521
Short Circuit 300
Ricochet 225

(Reprinted from Unlimited Hydroplane News)

Final Standings
1 G-22 Such Crust III (3) [race average 83.872]
2 U-54 Wildroot Charlie
3 U-50 Miss Wayne (2)
4 CA-1 Miss Supertest II
5 U-23 Wha Hoppen Too
6 U-99 Short Circuit (2)
7 U-80 Miss Ricochet
Did not compete U-100 What A Pickle I
Did not finish U-56 Gale VI (1)
Did not finish U-55 Gale V (2)
Did not compete U-53 Gale III*


*Some sources claim this boat appeared as the U-98 What A Pickle (2)