1956 Season Summary


1 23-Jun Maple Leaf Trophy Windsor, Ontario
2 30-Jun Prince Edward Trophy Picton, Ontario, Canada
3 07-Jul Mapes Mile High Gold Cup Tahoe City, California
4 15-Jul St. Clair International Boundary St. Clair, Michigan
5 05-Aug Seafair Trophy Seattle, Washington
6 12-Aug William Conners Memorial Buffalo, New York
7 18-Aug O.J. Mulford Silver Cup Detroit, Michigan
8 19-Aug Copper Cup Polson, Montana
9 28-Aug Harmsworth Trophy Detroit, Michigan
10 01-Sep APBA Gold Cup Detroit, Michigan
11 16-Sep President's Cup Washington, D.C.
12 16-Sep Wm. Rogers Memorial Washington, D.C.
13 30-Sep International Cup Elizabeth City, N.C.
14 07-Oct Indiana Governor's Cup Madison, Indiana
15 14-Oct Sahara Hotel Trophy Las Vegas, Nevada


  Date Winner Driver
1 23-Jun Dora My Sweetie Don Wilson
2 30-Jun Miss Supertest II Bill Braden
3 07-Jul Shanty I Russ Schleeh
4 15-Jul Gale VI (1) Lee Schoenith
5 05-Aug Shanty I Russ Schleeh
6 12-Aug My Sweetie (2) Joe "Doc" Terry
7 18-Aug Miss U.S. II Don Wilson
8 19-Aug Miss B&I (1) Bob Gilliam
9 28-Aug Shanty I Russ Schleeh
10 01-Sep Miss Thriftway (1) Bill Muncey
11 16-Sep Miss Thriftway (1) Bill Muncey
12 16-Sep Hawaii Kai III Jack Regas
13 30-Sep Miss U.S. I (1) Danny Foster
14 07-Oct Miss U.S. I (1) Fred Alter
15 14-Oct Hawaii Kai III Jack Regas


  Winner Crew Chief Designer Builder Engine
6/23 My Sweetie, Dora Frank Nickolits John Hacker Les Staudacher Allison
6/30 Miss Supertest II Victor Leghorn Les Staudacher Les Staudacher Rolls-Griffon
7/7 Shanty I Jack Ramsey Ted Jones Les Staudacher Allison
7/15 Gale Vi Bud Meldrum Ted Jones Les Staudacher Allison
8/5 Shanty I Jack Ramsey Ted Jones Les Staudacher Allison
8/11-12 My Sweetie (2) Frank Nickolits John Hacker Les Staudacher Allison
8/18 Miss U.S. II Al Simon Les Staudacher Les Staudacher Allison
8/19 Miss B & I Bob Gilliam Bob Gilliam Bob Gilliam Allison
8/25,27,28 Shanty I Jack Ramsey Ted Jones Les Staudacher Allison
9/1 Miss Thriftway Mike Pavone Ted Jones Les Staudacher Allison
9/15-16 Miss Thriftway Mike Pavone Ted Jones Les Staudacher Allison
9/16 HawaII Kai III Mike Welsch Ted Jones Les Staudacher Rolls-Merlin
9/30 Miss U.S. I Al Simon Dan Arena Dan Arena Allison
10/6-7 Miss U.S. I Al Simon Dan Arena Dan Arena Allison
10/13-14 HawaII Kai III Mike Welsch Ted Jones Les Staudacher Rolls-Merlin


  Built Boat High Points  
1 1956 Shanty I 3465
2 1955 Miss Thriftway (1) 2745
3 1955 Gale VI (1) 2565
4 1956 Hawaii Kai III 2280
5 1951 Miss Seattle 2055
6 1956 Miss U.S. II 2025
7 1955 Miss Wayne (2) 1890
8 1950 Miss Pepsi (2) 1845
9 1954 Gale IV 1710
10 1955 Maverick (1) 1530
11 1956 Gale V (2) 1395
12 1956 Miss Wahoo 1080
13 1950 Slo-mo-shun IV 1080
14 1953 Dora My Sweetie 735
15 1953 Such Crust III (2) 600
16 1953 Miss U.S. I (1) 585
17 1954 Miss Supertest II 585
18 1956 Tempest (1) 450
19 1954 Short Circuit (1) 405
20 1955 Tempo VII 360
21 1951 My Sweetie (2) 315
22 1952 What-A-Pickle (1) 210
23 1953 Muvalong 165
24 1956 Miss B&I (1) 150
25 1955 Scooter Too 90
26 1951 Wha Hoppen Too 90
27 1952 Let's Face It 45
28 1954 Breathless 0
29 1949 Crusty 0
30 1940 Miss Ricochet 0
31 1956 Miss Skyway 0


  Driver High Points  
1 Russ Schleeh 1250
2 Chuck Thompson 1125
3 Bill Muncey 900
4 Jack Regas 825
5 Lee Schoenith 780
6 Joe "Doc" Terry 705
7 Jack Bartlow 690
8 Roy Duby 615
9 Don Wilson 555
10 Bill Cantrell 540
11 Norm Evans 495
12 Bill Stead 480
13 Joe Taggart 450
14 Fred Alter 450
15 Frank "Bud" Saile 435
16 Bill Braden 350
17 Mira Slovak 330
18 Marv Henrich 120
19 Howard Gidovlenko 105
20 Bill Tonkin 90
21 John Bridge 90
22 Gordon Deneau 75
23 Jay Murphy 75
24 Bob McElroy 75
25 Bob Gilliam 75
26 Lin Ivey 60
27 Danny Foster 45
28 George Simon 0
29 Roger Murphy 0
30 Ron Webber 0



After five years of trying Detroit finally got the Gold Cup back from Seattle albeit by a lucky break. However, judged by the way the season ended it looked like the Gold Cup would be in Detroit for 1957 also.

Tempo VII had won her last five races if you counted the Copper Cup in Poison, Montana. She had about 4 m.p.h. on the field on smooth water. On rough water she still won but by a slim margin. Even though she was owned by Guy Lombardo of New York, she was running out of the Detroit Yacht Club.

Gale V had won the Gold Cup and did not fail in a heat all season long. Gale IV had taken the Ford Memorial and was the most formidable Gale before the Gold Cup. Although being inconsistent at the end of year, Miss U.S. with Jack Bartlow at the wheel, was the only boat that could really run with Tempo VII at that time on both rough and smooth water not to mention defeating Miss Pepsi twice in the Rogers Memorial. Pepsi for her part would have won the President's Cup if she had not jumped the gun in the final heat. She had the fastest lap at the Silver Cup.

In Seattle Slo-mo-shun V, an unstable boat for the past three years, had not been repaired. Slo-mo-shun IV, apparently retired by owner Stan Sayres, had the fastest qualifying, lap and speed and the fastest competition lap and heat in the 1955 Gold Cup. However with the improvement of Tempo VII since that time, there was a question whether the Slo-mo could run with her.

Miss Thriftway had looked good in the Gold Cup, but driver Bill Muncey had made many mistakes in the Silver Cup. At the President's Cup Thrifty was in a position to win--as at the Silver Cup--with two boats jumping the gun in the final heat, but was passed by a poor starting Tempo VII.

Then things started to turn against Detroit and for Seattle.

Gale V was damaged in a November 1955 test run and was replaced by a new lighter Gale V. Tempo VII was left outside all winter preventing her sale - her driver Danny Foster having shifted to the Supertest camp. And Miss Pepsi’s status became uncertain.

Miss Thriftway, which was to run a souped up engine, was joined in Seattle by two hull copies - Shanty I owned by millionaire oil man Bill Waggoner and Miss Wahoo owned by Bill Boeing whose father started the Boeing Company. In due course Waggoner bought the Rebel, Suh and renamed her Maverick.

With Gale V out and Gale IV shunted to the background, Detroit's main hope was the twin engine Gale VI designed by Ted Jones. Jones had redesigned the double engined Such Crust III in 1953 and made her the fastest boat of that year according to lap times. Supporting the twin engine strategy was the success of Miss Pepsi which had markedly outperformed her single engine counterpart My Sweetie. And of course Gar Wood had always maintained that the more horsepower the better.

The new Gale V was lighter and potentially faster than her predecessor. Miss U.S II was Les Staudacher's effort to duplicate the Thriftway hull and replaced the Miss U.S. I which was not expected to run in 1956.

Miss Supertest II was slated to be driven by Danny Foster after the Harmsworth in the Gold Cup. At her best Miss Supertest II was competitive with the Gales. However at the 1955 Silver Cup Supertest was not impressive. Under the rules she would defend in Detroit if she won the race.

16 races were scheduled for the Unlimiteds in 1956 exclusive of the Harmsworth Trophy. This was the most ambitious schedule in the long history of motorboat racing - the previous high being 13.

Rough water marked the first three races in the east with the only fast track being the final heat at Picton, Ontario. In this heat the fastest lap was 95 m.p.h. -- 10 m.p.h. slower than Tempo VII and 7 m.p.h. slower than the next fastest entry in 1955 - Slo-mo-shun IV.

Thus the Seattle Seafair would be the first major test of the new boats and Seattle versus Detroit.

In this event the Thriftway copy Shanty I was overwhelming beating the competition lap record by 9 m.p.h., the heat record by 6 m.p.h. and the race record again by 6 m.p.h. In course speed comparisons Shanty I was about 4 m.p.h. faster than Tempo VII.

Slo-mo-shun IV was second at Seattle, but was clearly outgunned by Shanty I. Miss Thriftway ran an erratic race. However she was next quickest boat - down by about 5 m.p.h.

Detroit's Miss U.S. II had won a heat at Seafair and was in a position to win the race preceding the final heat being only a couple of m.p.h. down to Shanty before the latter stormed to a 116 m.p.h. lap in the third heat. The Gales, neither of which got above third place, were 10 m.p.h. short in comparison to the all conquering Shanty I. The Schoeniths only consolation was that Gale V had run a testing lap at 115 m.p.h. -- 1 m.p.h. slower than Shanty.

The Silver Cup produced another rough track, but a victory for Detroit's leading boat at the time Miss U.S. II. The U.S. had trouble with the likes of Miss Wayne and Gale VI and the Schoenith's Gale IV recorded the fastest lap.

Shanty I was selected as the Harmsworth defender and handily defeated the Canadian Miss Supertest II. Her best lap on the 5 nautical mile course was 110 m.p.h. In contrast Miss Pepsi had done 107 and Slo-mo-shun IV 106 on the same course in 1950. The speed spectrum had moved upward dramatically since 1950 so there was some real questions as to Shanty I's capabilities on the Detroit River. To add to Seattle's trepidation was the emergence of Miss Pepsi as a surprise contender one week before the race.

Slo-mo-shun IV was 7 m.p.h. behind Shanty I at Seafair which was demonstrated by the Bill Waggoner entry steadily drawing away from the Old Lady on the first backstretch of the final heat. As a result Slo-mo-shun's sponsons were changed for the Gold Cup.

The Thursday before the race Slo-mo came out to qualify. When approaching the Detroit Yacht Club she encountered a cruiser wake, sponson walked and capsized being wrecked beyond repair.

Some said the Slo-mo was very unstable on that backstretch and therefore the cruiser wake was not crucial. Others said the cruiser wake caused the demise of the world's most famous speedboat. At any rate the Slo-mo would run no more. Two weeks later Stan Sayres died.

He could not bear to look at his favorite after she cracked up.

The night before the start of the race only nine of the 20 boats at riverside had qualified. As a result an additional qualifying period Saturday morning was allowed before the regatta began. Six more entries qualified bumping Dora, My Sweetie from the race. Dora had made the field on Friday.

According to the rules under which Dora, My Sweetie entered the Gold Cup, qualifying was to be confined to a four day period before the race with no race day qualifications. In the years after its enactment in 1949, this rule had been honored by its violation. However in the years of its violation, a legally qualified entry had never been bumped from the field. This prompted Dora owner Horace Dodge to file a law suit to have the whole race declared no contest.

Prior to the start,the contest broke down to Shanty and Thriftway from Seattle versus Pepsi and Miss U.S. II for Detroit. Fortunately for Detroit and Miss Pepsi the water came up rough race day.

Miss Pepsi clearly won her section against Miss Thriftway. Then Seattle's Shanty led section B being closely pressed by Gale IV until it started to rain. Suddenly Miss U.S. I went by Gale IV for second and then incredibly passed Shanty I to take the lead. With visability almost nil due to the rain Miss U.S. I missed a buoy and Shanty I was back in first place until the heat was called.

After the rain subsided section A of heat two was called to the water - there being no redraw for the second heat. The water had calmed down considerably and Miss Thriftway took advantage of the situation to defeat Miss Pepsi.

The B section boats then came out to re-run heat 1-B. Muvalong had withdrawn allowing Hawaii Kai III in. Miss U.S. I had also bowed out due to damage sustained in the first running of 1-B. This provided a place for Dora, My Sweetie in the starting lineup, but she declined. Losing Miss U.S. I deprived Detroit of a possible winning player.

Shanty I took the measure of the field with a little less trouble from Gale IV in the re-run as she had been washed down. Shanty I placed first. Gale IV recovered to finish second, but Bill Cantrell would replace Roy Duby in the cockpit.for heat 2-B.

With heat one now completed the combined score was Shanty I (400), Miss Pepsi (300), Gale IV (225) and Miss Thriftway (169). All four had a chance although Miss Thriftway would need some help-she was down more points than she could make up in the next two heats.

Section B was then up again to complete heat two. Gale IV ran down to the first turn and died. Shanty I then easily took the heat, but she ran too easy and got third place points to Miss Thriftway (400) and Miss Pepsi (300),in the combined second heat scoring. This gave the lead to Shanty I at 625 points with Miss Pepsi (600) and Miss Thriftway (569) being the other contenders ready to take the Cup.

Both Thriftway and Pepsi could win the Gold Cup by winning the third heat since they were ahead for the fastest heat and fastest race bonuses respectively. Shanty I would have to win the final heat at a record pace to take the regatta.

Miss Thriftway got out in front in the final and Shanty I died on the first backstretch. Thriftway stayed in front of Miss Pepsi until lap 6 when the Dossin entry made her move. This forced Miss Thriftway into a defensive posture and she ran real close to the entrance buoy in the first turn of lap 7. The Willard Rhodes entry staved off the challenge and won the heat and apparently the Gold Cup.

Then reports of Thriftway hitting the buoy reached the judge's stand. These reports were confirmed to some extent by a course judge which resulted in the Miss Thriftway being disqualified and Miss Pepsi being awarded the Gold Cup.

Thriftway owner Willard Rhodes, not a man to take bad news lying down, then filed a protest that Miss Pepsi had hit a buoy. As a result the Gold Cup was taken away from Miss Pepsi to await a judgement of the Inboard Racing Commission.

When questioned closely the relevant course judge admitted that he did not actually see Miss Thriftway hit the buoy, but that the flags from the buoy were no longer present after Miss Thriftway passed. Nevertheless there was orange paint on Thriftway's sponson - the same color as the buoy.

On the other hand films of the final heat which had been taken by KING-TV of Seattle clearly showed that Thriftway had not hit the buoy. However this may not have been relevant since the rule stated damage and destroy with no reference to hit. The buoy was obscured on a subsequent lap and ironically Miss Pepsi ran over it.

As one Detroit writer put it: "If you want to award the Gold Cup on a technicality, give it to Pepsi. If you want to recognize what happened on the race course, give it to Thriftway."

The Inboard Racing Commission decided that Miss Thriftway had not hit the buoy and the Gold Cup went back to Seattle. The decision was really a done deal after a hearing two weeks later at the President's Cup, but the final award was not made until November at the A.P.B.A. meeting after the Detroit contingent had had a chance to voice their disaffection with the tentative decision.

Miss Thriftway won the President's Cup with no need of assistance from the Inboard Racing Commission. She trounced her major opposition Miss Pepsi and Shanty I in her first heat, held on in her second heat to nose out the Pepsi and then took second in the final heat to insure her victory. At the Gold Cup the U-60 had 3 m.p.h. on the field. At the President's Cup it was 2 m.p.h.

Hawaii Kai III, an also ran with an Allison engine and Howard Gidovlenko in her cockpit, became a front runner with Jack Regas and a Rolls Merlin engine.and the Slo-mo crew to watch over the operation. Hawaii Kai III decisively defeated Shanty I to win the Rogers Memorial. She also set a lap record for the Potomac River at 105.675 in contrast to Miss Thriftway with 104.449 and 103.647 for Tempo VII in 1955.

In the final race of the season at Las Vegas, Miss Thriftway had mechanical problems and was not a factor. Shanty and Hawaii Kai won both their preliminary heats and entered the final tied with 800 points. Shanty I outperformed Hawaii Kai 103 to 102 in competition lap times on the 2½ mile course. It is true in the second heat that the Kai did 105, but this was with only two boats on the course -- herself and Miss Thriftway.

Hawaii Kai III got off to a bad start in the third heat and it was all Shanty I for two laps. Then Shanty went dead and the Hawaii Kai had her second win of the season.

Nevertheless Shanty I was the National High Point Champion. Unlike previous years there were 6 other boats that went to as many races as the N.H.P.C. so the championship really meant something. In previous years except for 1951 when Miss Pepsi won, one maybe two boats went to as many races as the champion. Some years no boats went to as many races as the National High Point Champion.

The Horace Dodge law suit was settled when a new rule was passed allowing all qualified boats to run in the Gold Cup. As an upshot of the Gold Cup incident the Unlimited Racing Commission was formed.

The difference between this body and the Inboard Racing Commission was that it was composed of all Unlimited people. This meant that the A.P.B.A. was virtually out of the situation and the Unlimiteds for better or worse would run their own sport.

Although Shanty I won the High Point Championship, there was some question whether she or Miss Thriftway or Hawaii Kai III was the boat of the year. Shanty had won three of her seven races, but only her triumph in the Seafair Trophy was really impressive. In contrast Miss Thriftway took two of her four races with her victories coming in two of the four really important events of the year. Hawaii Kai III was victorious in her last two contests, but she backed in to win at Las Vegas and she had only Shanty I to contest her in the two heat Rogers Memorial.

Shanty I won the National High Point Championship and it was no small, matter as referenced above since six other boats were involved. However such major contenders as Miss Thriftway, Miss Pepsi and Slo-mo-shun IV were not among those six boats. Hawaii Kai III spent two races in a non contender status and Miss U.S. II was only a factor at Seattle although her sister had potential in all of her six races.

The others were not real players. As a result the most reasonable conclusion is that Miss Thriftway was the outstanding entry of 1956.

[Statistics from Greene, V.1]