The 2013 APBA Gold Cup Is Now!
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The APBA Gold Cup - 100 Years Ago
By Fred Farley - H1 Unlimited Historian
Officially known as the "American Power Boat Association Challenge Cup," the Gold Cup is the ultimate prize that every competitor strives to win at least once.
In terms of prestige, it compares on an international level to England's Harmsworth Trophy and Australia's Griffith Cup.
First contested in 1904, the trophy was created by Tiffany's at a total cost of $900. Millions have been spent and lives sacrificed in the pursuit of the APBA Gold Cup.
100 YEARS AGO (1913):
Popular Tom D'Eath, who has won three Gold Cups (1976-1989-1990), takes justifiable pride in his Polish-American heritage. But Tom is not the first Polish-American to win the Gold Cup.
That distinction belongs to Count Casimir Mankowski who won the 1913 race on the St. Lawrence River in New York at the wheel of ANKLE DEEP.
Mankowski's boat had sunk in the 1912 Gold Cup, but his luck would change the following year.
Powered by twin Sterlings, ANKLE DEEP was one of the first hydroplane hulls to enter competition. Mankowski and ANKLE DEEP won all three heats of the 1913 event and had a fastest heat of 44 miles per hour. This compared to the 33 MPH effort by DIXIE II, a displacement craft, in 1910.
75 YEARS AGO (1938):
The first and only challenger from another continent to win the Gold Cup was the 19-foot 7-inch ALAGI, powered by half of an Isotta-Fraschini aircraft engine, in 1938.
Owned and driven by Count Theo Rossi of Turin, Italy, ALAGI won all three heats and posted a 3-mile Gold Cup lap record of 72.707 miles per hour on the Detroit River.
Second-place in the 1938 Gold Cup went to a homebuilt boat from San Francisco, the MISS GOLDEN GATE, which utilized a V-8 "Hisso" engine and a new-style three-point hull design (two sponsons and a propeller).
MISS GOLDEN GATE driver Dan Arena and riding mechanic Danny Foster impressed mightily in the 1938 Gold Cup. Truly, a lot would be heard from both of these young men, barely out of high school, in the years to come.
50 YEARS AGO (1963):
Ron Musson and the "Green Dragon" MISS BARDAHL won their first of three consecutive Gold Cups together in 1963 at Detroit.
Musson reeled off three first-place finishes in the preliminary heats and took a safe second to Bill Cantrell and GALE V in the Final.
The Rolls-Royce Merlin-powered "Green Dragon" turned the fastest heat of the day at 109.489 miles per hour and established a Gold Cup 3-mile lap record of 114.649 MPH.
MISS BARDAHL effectively dethroned the defending Gold Cup championship team of Bill Muncey and MISS THRIFTWAY, which finished a surprising and disappointing sixth in 1963.
25 YEARS AGO (1988):
Heading into the 1988 Gold Cup at Evansville, Indiana, driver Chip Hanauer had an incredible string of seven consecutive Gold Cup victories going for him with Fran Muncey's racing team.
For a few brief moments in 1988, that victory string appeared to be at an end. Hanauer's MILLER HIGH LIFE entry suffered hull damage in a collision with another boat during the warm-up for Heat 1-A and had to be withdrawn.
Hanauer was subsequently offered the seat in the other Fran Muncey hydroplane. This was the MISS CIRCUS CIRCUS, which had been driven in the first two heats by John Prevost and which had likewise been damaged in a crash with another boat.
The crew members of the two Muncey boats then concentrated all of their energy and equipment into the casino-sponsored craft. They stripped parts off of the MILLER and installed them on the CIRCUS.
MISS CIRCUS CIRCUS, incongruously equipped with MILLER HIGH LIFE's tail assembly, went on to win Gold Cup Heat 3-B and the Final Championship Heat and thus preserved Chip Hanauer's victory string.