1940 President's Cup

Notre Dame Captures First Heat For President’s Cup On Potomac

Miss Syndicate Nosed Out For Second By My Sin; Pop Cooper’s Boat Sinks

By Everett B. Morris

Washington, Sept. 28 [1940] — Bumping around the course at a speed ten miles an hour slower than the record, Herbert Mendelson’s mahogany-and-blue Notre Dame, from the Detroit Yacht Club, won the first fifteen-mile heat of the President’s Cup race this afternoon while the nation’s air armada droned overhead in a mass flight incident to the dedication of the new national airport on the Virginia shore of the Potomac.

The intricate maneuvers of aerial squadrons in the cloudless blue sky attracted eyes which otherwise would have followed the relatively decorous progress of Notre Dame and her pursuers up and down the muddy, yellow river in quest of the big golden bowl which the White House first sponsored for speed boats in 1928.

With young Danny Arena, of Oakland, California at her wheel, Notre Dame took the lead with one real burst of speed on the fourth lap 1 and coasted home, a winner by twenty seconds over My Sin, owned and driven by Zalmon G. Simmons, of Greenwich, Conn. The 1939 Gold Cup winner took second place from Horace Dodge’s venerable Miss Syndicate on the last circuit, after running third all the way:"

Why Worry, one of the Ohio River 725-cubic-inch hydroplanes, in which Bill Cantrell, of Louisville, had sped over the measured mile this morning at 97.168 miles an hour, for a new Gold Cup time trial record for non-supercharged engines, was fourth. A classmate, Marion Cooper’s Mercury, was a widely out-classed fifth. The sixth starter in the fixture, which brings the major speedboat schedule to a close, was Hotsy Totsy III, the little boat in which Sidney Allen, of Southampton, L. I, unexpectedly won the Gold Cup at Northport last month. Hotsy trailed the fleet for two laps and then went out on the third with a broken drive shaft.

Notre Dame’s average for the fifteen miles was 59.289 miles an hour and her fastest two and one-half-mile lap, the fourth, was 82.5. My Sin, in overhauling and passing the fifteen-year-old Miss Syndicate on the final lap, was clocked at 62.937 miles an hour, the best effort of any of the contestants. Water conditions were not conducive to the speed of which Notre Dame and My Sin are capable in competition. Both have reeled off two and one-half-mile laps in previous races at 70 miles an hour, but the slop between the Hains Point seawall and the line of vessels anchored in midstream .made wide-open driving altogether too dangerous for these fast, but unseaworthy, madrines.

Old Miss Syndicate, a long, heavily built, V-bottom hull, was right at home in the heavy going which prevailed for the early part of the race. She led for three laps, but when the river smoothed out she was unable to hold either Notre Dame or My Sin, which were new in 1940 and 1939, respectively.

Straggling Start Staged

The start was a straggling affair that reflected no credit on a group of drivers supposed to be the best in the business. Hotly Totsy was the only one on the line with the gun, and the others, followed. at irregular intervals. Miss Syndicate’s long black hull wound around the north turn in first position, with Notre Dame and My Sin well astern, in that order. Why Worry was fourth, Hotsy Totsy fifth and Mercury last coming into the back stretch.

The order among the leaders remained unchanged as the boats tooled around the bumpy oval at reduced throttle. Old-timers on the committee boat thrilled at the spectacle of Miss Syndicate, which won the President’s Cup here in 1927 at fifty-one miles an hour, leading the procession for lap after lap. When the water improved Arena bore down on the accelerator on the straightaways and he put Notre Dame in the lead soon after the fourth lap started. Simmons bided his time until the last lap and then moved, past Miss Syndicate, a gallant old gal who was making dignified and comfortable progress and just could not go any more rapidly.

The second and third heats will be run tomorrow, and everyone except Eddie Hudson, Miss Syndicate’s driver is hoping for smooth water. The cup will go to the boat which scores the most points in the three heats. There are bonuses for the fastest total time for the forty-five miles, so all of the boats, except Hotsy Totsy, are still theoretically in the running.

225s Better 63 M. P. H.

As frequently happens, the little 225-cubic-inch hydroplanes put on a show that made the Gold Cup fleet blush. With Pop cooper, George Schrafft and Tommy Chatfield pressing leaden feet against their throttles, the topnotch 225s whipped around at better than sixty-three miles an hour. Conditions were no better for the 225s than they were in the late stages of the President’s Cup contest.

Cooper, who is on the dark side off sixty, but who is as courageous and skillful a driver as there is in the sport, won the first heat by a few lengths and Chatfield nipped Schrafft right on the line for second position. All three of them were well over sixty-three miles an hour; for the five-mile whirl.

Chatfield got the jump in the second heat, but old Pop poured the coal to his little white flyer down the backstretch and roared into the lead. Going into the lower turn, though, Pop’s boat turned a somersault and pitched the wiry little veteran into the river. While Cooper was being fished out of the drink unharmed, his boat went to the bottom and Chatfield went on to win the A. P. B. A. championship of the class. Cooper’s accident puts him out of the running for the John Charles Thomas Trophy contest tomorrow in which the national title for 225’s will be at stake.

(Reprinted from the New York Herald Tribune, September 29, 1940)