1934 APBA Gold Cup

Motorboating: George Reis Runs Away With The Gold Cup

George Reis, born to wealth, was brought up to learn the value of money. His father, a steel executive, used to make him caddy during the summer while the family was vacationing in resorts. Last week, at 45, Reis exposed himself to charges of Gold Cup hoarding. For the second year in succession, he won that trophy, speed-boating's most ancient emblem of supremacy.

This year the races (for boats without superchargers and limited to 625 cubic inches piston-displacement) were held on the deep-green waters of Lake George, N. Y. Not for twenty years had ace powerboat chauffeurs bounced over the lake's waves. So enthusiastic were civic leaders over the publicity Lake George would receive that they laid out the two and one-half mile oval course last Winter when the lake was still frozen. They bored holes through the ice and dropped anchors.

The big moment came last Saturday. Five other pilots and Reis, a local hero, lined up for the first of three 30-mile heats, each twelve laps. Reis drove El Lagarto, oldest and ugliest boat in the race.

The first heat was a procession. It finished as it started. Driving at an average clip of almost 58 miles an hour, Reis hummed past the judges' stand a quarter-mile in front. Then came Bennett Hill in Hornet and Bill Horn in Delphine IV, winner in 1932.

The second heat was crucial. If the blue-shirted Hill could make his black Hornet travel a bit faster than in the first heat, a real dark horse might come through.

Hornet took an early lead. Reis let El Lagarto out in the fourth lap. Trying to resist the challenge, Hill kept the throttle wide open, his sixteen-cylinder motor turning at 4,200 revolutions a minute. The strain was too much.

Hornet's motor sputtered and slowed down. Hill and his mechanic peered sadly at the wounded motor while the tail-enders sped past. El Lagarto was first again, Delphine IV second.

First place in a heat meant 400 points, second 361, third 324, fourth 289. Reis entered the final heat in a comfortable position. All he needed was a fourth place to win the Gold Cup. There were only four boats able to start, two having withdrawn because of engine trouble. Reis coasted in taking third place.

Gar Wood, whose boats skim two miles a minute (twice as fast as Reis's), was a spectator. Wood is the annual king of the Harmsworth Races, contest for the speediest boats afloat.

Reis loves boats and has long enjoyed setting records. Back in 1901 he was one of the first men to pilot a boat at the unheard-of speed of five miles an hour. He had a one-cylinder engine.

He will defend his National Sweepstakes title in Baltimore this week-end, and his President's Cup in Washington Sept. 21 and 22.

When not tuning up motors, he often tunes up musical instruments. He plays most of the stringed variety fast and well. If he needed money, he could go on the stage. Every Winter he takes his wife to Pasadena, Calif., where he stars in amateur theatricals.

(Reprinted from Newsweek, August 11, 1934, p.17)