1940 National Sweepstakes

Notre Dame Smashes Records in Speedboat Sweepstakes Race

Detroit Craft Averages 76.14 M.P.H. for First Heat of Test, Runs a 76.923 Lap

By Everett B. Morris

Red Bank, N. J., Aug. 24 [1940] — Those members of the speed-boating fraternity who have contended long and loudly that a good 225-cubic inch hydroplane could blister the paint off the topsides of a Gold Cup boat any time they met in competition were silenced this afternoon when the first heat of the National Sweepstakes race was run under almost perfect conditions on the Shrewsbury.

Herbert Mendelson's Notre Dame argued the question for the Gold Cuppers and did it so well and so thoroughly that there was no rebuttal by the opposition. Notre Dame won the fifteen-mile test from here to there and back again, left the best 225's in the country hull down astern and smashed all sweepstakes records in the process.

Driven cleverly and fearlessly by young Danny Arena, the mahogany-hulled Detroit Yacht Club boat averaged 76.14 miles an hour for the six circuits of the two and one-half-mile oval course. Her fastest trip, the third, was 76.923 m.p.h. Until Notre Dame made the placid Shrewsbury's waters steam in her wake, the sweepstakes heat record stood at 64.439 m. p. h., a figure put on the books in 1937 by Tops II, a 225-cubic inch hydroplane driven by Jack Cooper, the ever youthful grandpop from Kansas City.

Today, in Tops III, a newer and faster 225, Cooper was second to Notre Dame and averaged 67.839 a m.p.h. The previous lap record, 65.589 m. p. h., was made in 1936 by the Gold Cup hydroplane_Jay-Dee, with Mrs. Maude Rutherfurd at the wheel.

When the starting gun for the sweepstakes sounded nine 225's and three Gold Cup boats bolted over the line, Upholding Gold Cup class prestige with Notre Dame was Lou Fageol's So Long, from California and George Cannon's triple-engined Gray Goose [III], which was allowed in the race under special dispensation because the sweepstakes is limited to single-engined boats. On the 225 side were Tops, George Schrafft's Chrissie S. IV [??], Tom Chatfield's newest Viper and Jack Wood's Miss Fireball, to mention some of the faster outfits.

Miss Fireball hit the line with the gun and right with her were three more 225's. The Gold Cup boats being larger and not so nimble in crowded quarters had hung back out of the jam. But as soon as Arena saw daylight he shoved his throttle foot down to the floorboards, let Notre Dame's twenty-four-cylinder supercharged engines scream and when the first turn was reached Notre Dame bailed into it ahead.

When the first lap was over she was already romping away from pursuit. Tops was second and Fageol was coming up with So Long. Viper was fourth. Gray Goose fifth and. Chrissie sixth. On the second lap, So Long whizzed past Tops and into second place but was making no impression on Notre Dame's lead. Gray Goose then moved up to challenge Tops for third place but did not quite have speed enough in her three motors to get around Tops.

At the finish the order was Notre Dame, Tops, Gray Goose, Chrissie, Eaglet III and So Long. Fageol's Gold Cupper went sour on the fifth lap and staggered home in sixth place. Gray Goose never showed the speed of her two classmates and Horace Dodge's Miss Syndicate, the fourth Gold Cup boat here for the Sweepstakes, never showed at all. Something broke in her starter just before the race.

Best Gold Cup Performance

In a word the Gold Cuppers ran pretty much true to form. One of them ran — and fast — two of them finished under difficulties and one never got started. But when a Gold Cup boat really gets running there isn't anything in this country short of Miss America X that can touch her. Notre Dame's heat and lap records today are the best competitive performances ever turned in by a Gold Cup boat. They are better than the three-mile lap record of 72.7 m.p.h. and thirty-mile heat mark

Tomorrow's second and third heats promise action aplenty also for the 225 Class in its own race. Today in the opening five-mile test, one of the also-rans of past years, Frank Ripp's Meadowmere III from Rockville Center, L. I., came out of the pits tuned to a fine edge. In speed boating they call this "souping up."

To the complete surprise of everyone, Ripp not only shot into an early lead but held it throughout to finish with white wakes of surging water ahead of such favorites as ' Chauncey Hamlin's Voo Doo from Buffalo, driven by John Olmstead Jr., Jack Cooper's Tops III, Tom Chatfield's Viper and George Schrafft's Chrissie.

The inboards took up right where the outboards left off. The first heat of the 91-cubic-inch hydroplane class race for the championship of the North Branch of the Shrewsbury was won by Tom Chatfield's Scoundrel, which set a class record of 43.813 miles an hour at Havre de Grace, Md. a month ago. Today Scoundrel was faster, leading the pack all the way at 50.876 m.p.h.

The 135's, out in force for the first of their national championship heats, were led by Henry Davis jr.'s Eight Ball, which beat Edison Hedges's Little Eagle in a hair-raising finish. It was a wild race. Andy Crawford's Ednandy capsized after colliding with a competitor after rounding the lower turn on the first lap and Mort Auerbach quit the race to go back and pick up Crawford, who was unhurt.

(Reprinted from the New York Herald Tribune, August 25, 1940)