1941 Pacific Motor Boat Trophy

Pacific Motor Boat Trophy

Another skein from that marvelous yarn of which motorboat history is made, was woven on the waters of Newport Bay, November 9, as larruping Lou Fageol of San Marino won his third straight inscription on the Pacific Motor Boat trophy.

In contrast to the moniker which has been fastened to it — "the Gold Cup regatta of the west" — the classic race this year was fought out by the 225's. Fageol, who won in 1939 and again in 1940 with his Gold Cup challenge boat, So Long, this year went into the fray with his new So Long, Jr., a Division I 225.

For two heats it was nip and tuck right to the finish line with Tommy Ince's So What of Hollywood but Fageol's sleek Ventnor job was well under her peak and won all three heats. Respective times of So Long, Jr., for the 15-mile trips around the 2½-mile oval course on county channel of the bay, were:

First heat 15:35.5; second heat, 16:36.1; third heat, 16:32.0.

A pair of seconds, in the first and third heat, earned second spot for Ince, though the Hollywood driver was disqualified the second heat for leaving the course. The veteran warhorse of the present active western 225's, Firecracker (remember her as Miss Arcadia?), was still very much on deck and earned third for young Bud Meyer of Hollywood, by taking second in the second heat. A fourth entry, Don Tank with Tattoo of San Diego had tough luck getting started and managed only to finish part of a lap in the third heat.

It was a bit on the unfortunate side that the fixture followed so close upon the devastation wrought two weeks previously at Salton Sea. Kenny Harmon's Zephyr, which sunk at Salton, wasn't ready for another baptizing. Although Al Jepsen and Bob Stack worked until sunrise trying to get the Hollywood movie star's Thunderbird on the go side, they couldn't cut it. Helen Torcher, and Gene Crawford's Hi Ball, also slated to go, were hors d' combat.

Ince and Eddie Meyer, brother of auto king Lou Meyer, had So What turning more consistently than at any time this year, however, and gave the several thousand fans who lined the course a taste of bow and bow action that bad them wading in the water.

From the thriller-diller point of view there was plenty to please and not the least of it came in the four rousing heats put on by the 135's and the Pacific One Design Hydroplanes. The PODH's were this year added to the program for the first time and proved well their right to a place.

In both classes, however, it was all of the spoils to the winners. As Fageol had done in the Pacific Motor Boat trophy heats, Clay Smith with Roy McCullough's Yankee Doodle II, copped both 135 heats going, away and Dorrance Williamson's Fridy of Compton, also fresh from setting up two world records for the class on Salton Sea won both PODH skirmishes.

McCullough's amazing Long Beach streak, which came out of 11-months retirement at Salton Sea and Newport, has in her two appearances this season proved claim to being one of America's boats of the year.

Both Gil Ozonne's newly-built Suds of Hawthorne, second place, and Rich Hallet's third-place Holiday III of San Gabriel, were blistering the water at around 54 mph, which in anybody's 135 competition isn't snaffling it. But the Yankee, turning 1,200 rpm shy of her peak 7,000, was trundled, by the rangy Smith to win hands down at a best heat speed of 57.235 mph. Suds turned the second heat at 54.479. Holiday III's best time was 53.571.

As always, the PODH competition was potent, though it was apparent right oft the bat that Fridy was the baby to beat. Williamson had the boat hot, and said "We've burned plenty of midnight oil to do it." Fridy continued in the Pacific Motor Boat trophy regatta the swift pace she displayed at Salton to stave of respective challenges of, Bud Hagerman's Jericho of Garden Grove and Kenneth Ingram's Excalibur of El Monte. Excalibur edged out Jericho for second place on best average time. Elmer Cravener of Los Angeles, the new owner of Little Butch, hasn't had time to put the 1940 champion up to the peak which owners Brownie Schuber and Larry Walker attained, and took fourth spot in both heats.

As nearly always happens in those races for the Pacific Motor Boat trophy, there pops up a story within a story.

It happened again in one of those sudden, unexpected mishaps which are manna for the thrill-thirsty. This time it was at the expense of that grand young Los Angeles sportsman, Marvin Erisman. The hero was ten-year-old Noel Wroolie, son of Vern O. Wroolie of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.

The 135's were coming out for the second heat. Erisman started the motor of his rebuilt Hot Saturday. A sheet of flame flared upward 16 feet and in a little shorter than nothing flat the boat was a lot hotter than any Saturday was meant to be.

Both the Newport Harbor fire department boat and young Wroolie arrived on the scene in less than half a minute. The fireman doused water on the flames. Noel, however; went into action with a Foamite gun. This did the business. As a result, what looked like a boat gone bye-bye suffered only a burned-off deck and a badly scarred but not lost motor. Chairman Walt Olsen postponed the heat for 30 minutes, then the 135's went at it. '

In retrospect the November 8 regatta maintained the tradition of a noble award, but there has been but there has been some talk that it might be advisable to scale down conditions and make it a race strictly for the 225-class. Gold Cup competition at present is moribund on the west coast and certainly hasn't proved very much in any other sector in 1941. But there are 225's kicking around — and some mighty good ones.

It appeared the consensus of thought that they are large and fast enough to do noble duty by the hoary tradition of the trophy.

Certainly they would be in grand company when you part the shades of the past and recall the days when such old timers as doughty Joe Fellows, Sr., Gar Wood, Sr., Dustin Farnum, Frank Garbutt and Cecil B. DeMille went out for the trophy in the early 1920's.

There have also been great past races since it was brought back to competition. It was Danny Arena, remember, who drove the Gold Cup boat, Miss Golden Gate, to triumph in 1936 and repeated victory in 1937. Don Steans and Bill Zartman wheeled Art Bobrick's El Torbellino II to win the 1938 inscription. The next year Fageol hit the top deck, where he has since remained.

Lending itself more importantly than ever as a pre-fillip to the regatta was the competition this year of the power cruisers, run down the coast from Long Beach. The cruisers raced on Saturday, laid over at night and the next day all were tied up along the shore east of the judges stand. On top of this several of the cruiser owners pitched in to aid the operating committee all of which is of more' than a light contribution toward bringing two distinctive branches of a kindred sport closer together.

Five entries competed in Class A. First place went to Hollis Strait's Alice C., which completed the run with a 2.347 percentage error, mighty close navigating. Second, Frank Ruppert's Reveller, had 3.175; third, Dr. E. H. Riesen's Lucille, 4.813; fourth, Jack Griffin's Una C., 6.283; fifth, Don Allison's Hoaloha, 6.704. In Class B, first went to Cal Smith's LaJota, 4.355; second to Don Banks' Teddy, 4.418; third, to Ven Lindblade's Lazy Daze, 4.940.

California Yacht Club did a gland job of sponsorship, its usual, this year assisted by the Associated Speedboat Clubs of Southern California and the Newport Harbor Junior Chamber of Commerce. The veteran live wire, C. King Brugman, served as chairman of the CYC committee, assisted by Charles Pausing, Joint Stick, Mark Pierce and J. H. Griffin, Jr., Kent Hitchcock, chairman, Anthony Plummer, John Callahan, R. I. Morris, Richard Torrance and Dave Deihl served for the Junior Chamber.

The operating committee, headed by Walt Olsen, comprised Dr. Lee C. Demming, referee; Fred Thatcher, Jr., chief timer; Clay Smith, measurer and pit manager; Robbie Robinson, chief scorer; R. L. (Bob) Reed, chronometer; Harbormaster Thomas E. Bouchey, course patrol.

(Reprinted from Pacific Motor Boat, December 1941)