1933 National Sweepstakes

El Lagarto Leads the Way at Red Bank

Unlike the last speed boat regatta held at Red Bank, New Jersey, two years ago, this year's event on August 12 was graced with perfect weather. A light westerly breeze just rippled the course sufficiently for the best results, the sun shone down on a big crowd of spectators and taken all in all, it was a splendid series of races.

For some reason or other, the largest field of outboards yet recorded this year turned out with twenty-two starters in class A and twenty in class C. The other classes were also well filled up but the speeds as recorded by the hard working committee showed that there was something radically wrong with the course for unheard of speeds were made in all events. The smaller classes, including the 125 cubic inch hydroplanes, raced around a course that was supposed to be a mile and a quarter to the lap, while the Sweepstakes boats were theoretically rounding a course two and a half miles to the lap but past performances and engine revolutions made these speeds doubtful. It brought to mind the phenomenal records made at Middletown three years ago when the course was found to be considerably less than the specified length. Speed, though, was apparent in all classes and a good time was had by all regardless of the so-called records.

The main events of the day, of course, were the three ten-mile heats for the National Sweepstakes. In these four boats of the Gold Cup class took part with a fifth contender from the ranks of the big runabout division.

The first heat was started at 3 p.m. with five boats crossing the line in a welter of foam and spray. These boats comprised George Reis' defending boat El Lagarto, Jack Rutherfurd's Imp, W. A. Buskee's big box-like racer; Bus Skee; Betty III, formerly Vic Kliesrath's Rowdy, and Mee Too, the Gar Wood runabout owned by William Berri. Imp was first across the line in a beautiful start with Lagarto closely pressing her heels. At the five-mile mark Imp went into second place with Reis' flyer leading. Bus Skee came third. At the fourth lap, Imp dropped out with a broken cam shaft and Lagarto slowed her pace to just keep ahead of Bus Skee. Betty III also dropped by the wayside. The finish showed Lagarto first, Bus Skee second and Mee Too third. The official time as given out for the winner was 55.5 miles an hour, yet the owner of El Lagarto says that his revolutions were only sufficient to give a speed of about 50 m.p.h.

In the second heat, Imp did not show up but Betty III was back again and seemed to be going better than at first but she soon dropped out and the grand parade continued with Lagarto finishing first, Bus Skee second and Mee Too third. This gave Reis enough points so that in the third heat he only had to finish second to win the Sweepstakes Trophy and the cagy driver from Lake George did just that, saving his boat in every way for the Gold Cup race at Detroit. The finish of, the third heat showed Bus Skee in first place, Lagarto second and Mee Too in third position. Betty III did not finish.

These races had the crowd at a high pitch of excitement, particularly the first heat as it was expected that Imp would give Lagarto a good run for her money if not actually beat her. With the passing of Imp, though. it was simply a matter of keeping just ahead of the big. crate-like racer known as Bus Skee, which, incidentally is one of the most peculiar racing craft ever to be built.

The outboards furnished the real thrill of the meet and when twenty-two class A boats roared over the line, it was a sight to behold. There was plenty of excitement all the time as the course was almost a perfect oval and the boats were in an almost continuous turn. Both division I and II drivers took part in all these events and the amateurs, strangely enough, seemed to do all the winning. Phil Bowers won both the first and second heats by a big margin and amassed himself sufficient points to be declared the winner. Phil comes from Sea Bright, New Jersey. Jim Nunnelly was second in the second heat but finished well down in the first heat. Jack Van Deman, though, was second in the first heat and third in the second and therefore he received second place in the final standing. Nunnelly was third. Fred Chase won the professional end of this event.

In class B outboards: Cab Walier got so far ahead in both heats that he looked as if he were racing all by himself. Evidently these outboard boys don't slow up and save their outfits any, but with the bang of the gun, open 'em up wide and let things go. Since a lead of 100 yards doesn't count any more than one inch at the finish, it would seem that by slowing down slightly, the boys could put on a better show and at the same time save themselves and their engines considerably. Nevertheless the lads did some fine driving.

Class C outboards was all mixed up. Joel Thorne, an amateur, won the first heat and Bill Feldhusen, division II, the second heat. Bill was first professional in the first heat, also and won easily in the professional division. Guy Ellsworth was the final winner in the amateur division and Bill Chilton was second. Running amateurs and professionals together in a race makes it tough work for the scorers on the committee boat as both divisions must be separated in the final analysis.

Jim Nunnelly won both heats in class F handily. Cab Walier was second on points after finishing in second place to Nunnelly in both heats.

Only three 125 cubic inch hydroplanes turned up for their event with Emancipator II, owned by S. M. Auerbach of Chicago, the winner. Edison Hedges of Chicago was second in his Flying Eagle and a very poor showing was made by "Doc" Bagley's Chotsie IV for third place. Emancipator won the first heat and was well on the way to winning the second heat when something happened on the back stretch and she slowed up for just a few seconds, thereby allowing Flying Eagle to get into the lead. Emancipator was never able to overtake Flying Eagle and consequently there was a tie for first place on points. Emancipator had, however, the fastest elapsed time and was declared the winner.

(Reprinted from The Rudder, September 1933, pp.12-13)