1922 APBA Gold Cup

Winning the Gold Cup and Other Trophies at Detroit

By W. G. Sheehan

Setting the stage for a modern motor boat regatta is not as great a task as feeding the A. E. F. [Allied Expeditionary Force], but it is a real man's job that calls for organizing ability worthy of a captain of industry, as was fully demonstrated at the greatest water speed carnival ever held in fresh or salt water—the 1922 Motor Boat Regatta held under the auspices of the Detroit Gold Cup Committee at the Detroit Yacht Club, September 1st to 4th.

The cups raced for during the regatta included the American Power Boat Association Gold Challenge Trophy, The Wood-Fisher Trophy, The Detroit Trophy, The Sallan Trophy and many others with an uninterrupted sequence of many years of racing back of them.

The responsibility for the success of the regatta was largely due to Commodore A. A. Schantz the head of the Gold Cup Committee. He was assisted by a committee of motor boat racing men and also by a corps of experts from the Indianapolis Speedway and representatives of the American Power Boat Association. Due to the favorable topography at the point where the races were held it is estimated that 500,000 people viewed the races on the various days. The course was a perfect ellipse with deep water close to each shore, making it ideal for the spectators.

The pièce de résistance of the regatta was, of course, the Gold Cup event, which was the twentieth annual race for that famous trophy. At the suggestion of the Detroit Committee, conditions of the race were changed, so that thirteen displacement runabouts were raced at 35 to 40 miles per hour instead of (as heretofore) two or three high powered hydroplanes making 70 miles per hour. Popular interest evidenced in the races more than justified the changes in the conditions and judging by the results of this race an even larger fleet will be on hand next year. There were two entries from Minneapolis, two from Buffalo, one from Toronto and eight from Detroit.

Baby Gar, Jr., the new boat of Commodore "Gar" Wood, who has won the Gold Cup a number of times, was the center of interest. The hull is the product of "Chris" Smith and is 25 feet on the water line and five-feet beam. Tier power plant is a Junior Liberty motor which comes within the 625 cubic inch stipulation for piston displacement. "Chris" Smith had built hulls for three of the 13 contestants. The others were the Packard-Chriscraft and the Chris-Craft II. Colonel J. G. Vincent piloted the Packard-Chriscraft and George Wood drove Chriscraft II. This race again saw the three Wood brothers, "Gar," George and "Win," battling against each other. "Win" was out to beat the Detroit Commodore, with his Red Bird, one of the Minneapolis entries.

The first race of the Gold Cup series saw thirteen runabouts ranging from 150 to 200 horse power and all practically 25 feet long cross the line within a few seconds in a most spectacular start. Colonel Vincent soon headed the fleet and did not find it necessary to crowd his engine at any time. His best lap was 41.4 miles per hour though the best lap made on the first day was done by Paul Strasburg in Zephyr at 42.4 miles per hour. He could not maintain the pace, however, but landed in fourth place.

Commodore Ralph Sidway, of Buffalo was second with Arab VI. His average time and that of the rest of the fleet was as follows :

Boat Average M.P.H.
Packard-Chriscraft 40.8
Arab VI 39.6
Baby Gar Jr 38.5
Zephyr 38.15
Bear Cat Special 37.25
Red Bird 36.6
Chriscraft II 34.5
Bear Cat Roamer 34.25
Demon Bear Cat 33.8
Miss Mary 29.1


Three boats failed to complete the course. Edsel Ford's Goldfish developed engine trouble early in the race. For several laps his mechanic worked to correct the fault but Mr. Ford finally retired on his ninth lap. P. H. Gray, from Minneapolis, threw his propeller on the sixth lap and accepted a tow and Fred Borman's Bear Cat Bee had a broken standpipe in the gasoline tank and was forced to quit until repaired.

The second heat saw but ten starters. The hard grind of 30 miles in each heat was beginning to tell. "Gar" Wood got away first but before the first four laps be was passed by Packard and Arab VI, which maintained their positions to the end. The results and speed were as follows:

Boat Average MPH
Packard-Chriscraft 40.60
Arab VI 40.50
Red Bird 38.65
Bearcat Special 38.45
Blue Bird 37.80
Demon Bearcat 35.40
Bearcat Roamer 35.25
Baby Gar, Jr 33.75
Chriscraft II Flagged
Zephyr Out 6th lap


The fastest time of the race was made by Ralph Sidway with the Arab VI, on his fourth lap when he covered the miles at an average speed of 41 miles an hour. Colonel Vincent was second in speed, showing 40.8 miles an hour on his sixth lap, when Strasburg was crowding him just before the Zephyr went out.

The third heat, on Labor Day, apparently lay between Packard and Arab VI, with but two points between them. From the first, however, Packard was never challenged, and as Arab VI had propeller trouble, Packard-Chriscraft romped across the line, a new national champion displacing "Gar" Wood who had held the honors for five years. But seven boats finished the third heat The total points are as follows for the series"

Boat Owner Points
Packard J. G. Vincent 36
Arab VI R H. Sidway 34
Red Bird W. C. Wood 31
Roamer Stanley Morgan 22
Demon F. G. Ericson 21
Baby Gar, Jr. Gar Wood 17
Chriscraft Catherine Smith 11
Blue Bird P. H. Gray 9
Bee F. G. Bowman 7


The Arab VI is a Hacker boat powered with a Sterling 6-cyl. motor of 180 horsepower. She showed great speed at all times. Goldfish, Edsel Ford's entry which was unable to finish in each of the first two heats has a special motor of his own design and built at the Ford plant. Chriscraft II, has a 180 horsepower, A7-A Hall-Scott aviation motor which proved too light for the work. Red Bird is powered with a Capitol "8" of 200 horsepower. Bear Cub Bee has a 175 horsepower Hall Scott "4" as has also the Bear C Roamer and the Demon Bear Cub while the Zephyr had a 4-cyl. airplane motor. The Bear Cat Special

[text missing]

(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1922, pp.169-170)

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Excerpt from "Gold Cup Class Revisited" by Fred Farley

A field of thirteen "gentlemen's runabouts" appeared in the 1922 Gold Cup at Detroit. The winner was Jesse Vincent in Packard Chriscraft with a 90-mile race average of 40.253. The race also marked the debut of the Packard Gold Cup engine, which would hold sway for the next fifteen years.

Between the World Wars, no circuit per se existed for either "U" boats or "G" boats. Each race had its own unique set of rules. The owner of a high-speed racing craft would build a boat for competition in one or two major events per year. The balance of the season would be devoted to participation in any number of obscure "free-for-all" races, hosted by individual yacht clubs or by various "wildcat" power boat racing organizations.

The race that most closely paralleled the Gold Cup in terms of rules was the President's Cup, which started in 1926. But while the Gold Cup race location was determined by the yacht club of the winning boat, the President's Cup was contested almost exclusively in Washington, D.C. The Gold Cup was a 90-mile race, whereas the President's Cup was 45 miles.

Most boats that raced for the Gold Cup were likewise eligible to compete for the President's Cup. One difference between the two codes dealt with the minimum cubic inch piston displacement size. At a time when both trophies allowed a maximum of 732 cubic inches, the Gold Cup required a minimum of 600, while the President's Cup permitted 366.

The other prominent race that sometimes attracted the Gold Cup crowd was the National Sweepstakes Trophy at Red Bank, New Jersey, starting in 1930. The Sweepstakes event was a single-engine Unlimited race. Any size or manufacture of inboard engine was permitted--as long as there was only one. This was in answer to Gar Wood's all-conquering multi-engine Miss Americas.