APBA Challenge Cup
|Formerly||APBA Challenge Cup|
|Claim to fame||The oldest active trophy in motor sports|
|Inaugural season||1916 in Detroit|
|Most recent champion(s)||2013 Spirit of Qatar - Kip Brown|
|Sponsor(s)||Detroit Yacht Club|
|Related competitions||H1 Unlimited|
|Official website||Detroit Gold Cup Website|
The Gold Cup is the oldest active trophy in motor sports. The trophy was first awarded in 1904 as the APBA Challenge Cup. Hydroplane racing became a tradition in Detroit when designer Christopher Columbus Smith (of the Chris-Craft boat company) built a Detroit-based boat that would crack the 60 miles-per-hour speed barrier, capturing the Gold Cup in 1915. The first major race to be run on the Detroit River was the 1916 APBA Gold Cup.
The Detroit Gold Cup races are held annually on the Detroit River in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Each summer the Detroit Gold Cup festival features hydroplane boat races, live music, non-stop entertainment and is capped off with one of the most exciting finals in all of racing as the top H1 Unlimited drivers battle for a chance to engrave their name on one of the most prestigious trophies in sports history, the Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is to power boat racing what the Super Bowl is to football, what the Kentucky Derby is to horse racing, what the World Series is to baseball, and what the Indianapolis 500 is to automobile racing.
The Detroit Gold Cup races will be held July 11–13, 2014.
The Gold Cup is the top power boat racing prize in the United States. The first race in this prestigious series took place on the Hudson River in June, 1904. The 59-foot Standard, powered by a 110-horsepower Standard engine, won all three 32 nautical mile heats, which were run on consecutive days. Each heat consisted of 16 miles up and down the Hudson. Standard set a Gold Cup record for the 32-mile distance at 23.613 in the second round.
The first Gold Cup race to be run on the Detroit River was in 1916. The community-owned MISS DETROIT won the Gold Cup in 1915 on Manhasset Bay, outside of New York City, and earned the right to defend it the following year on home waters. MISS DETROIT was a single-step hydroplane, equipped with a 250-horsepower Sterling engine. The designer was the distinguished Christopher Columbus Smith of Chriscraft fame.
The sport's first superstar rose to prominence winning the 1917 Gold Cup in Minneapolis. Named after two U.S. Presidents, Garfield Arthur Wood (aka "Gar") became the personification of power boat competition. This was Wood's first of five consecutive victories as a driver in "the race of races."
In 1920, at the wheel of his twin Smith-Liberty-powered MISS AMERICA, Wood averaged a phenomenal 70.412 miles per hour in the 30-mile Final Heat on a 5-mile course. The record would stand until 1946.
In the 1921 Gold Cup, Gar was simply unbeatable. For the next two decades, Gold Cup racing was restricted—supposedly for safety but halted Gar Wood's domination, and also to put the sport into the range of more pocketbooks than had previously been the case. Hydroplane hulls were outlawed and the engine size was limited to 625 cubic inches. Hydroplanes were re-admitted in 1929 and the cubic inch displacement was eventually raised to 732.
A field of thirteen "gentlemen's runabouts" appeared in the 1922 Gold Cup at Detroit. The winner was Jesse Vincent in PACKARD CHRISCRAFT with a 90-mile race average of 40.253. The race also marked the debut of the Packard Gold Cup engine, which would hold sway for the next fifteen years.
The first Gold Cup victory by a three-point hydroplane occurred in 1939. Unlike the step hydroplanes, the three- pointers rode on the tips of two pontoon-like running surfaces called sponsons and a completely submerged propeller. (Not until the late 1940s would the boats start to "propride.") The concept would forever alter the course of competitive power boating.
Following World War II, Gold Cup racing resumed. The introduction of converted Allison and Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engines, developed for the war effort, produced new enthusiasm for America's premier power boat racing event.
Starting in 1963, the Gold Cup race location was determined by the city with the highest financial bid, rather than by the yacht club of the winning boat. The race format was also changed from three heats of 30 miles to four heats of 15 miles. The high bid in 1963 was by Detroit. In the years since, more Gold Cups have been run on the Detroit River than any other location. Since 1990, all Gold Cup races have been contested in the Motor City.
Following the death of eight-time Gold Cup winner Bill Muncey in the World Championship Race at Acapulco, Mexico, in 1981, Lee "Chip" Hanauer took over as driver for the ATLAS VAN LINES team, now owned by Fran Muncey (Bill's widow). When the roostertails subsided, Hanauer and ATLAS had added a new chapter to American sports legend. This was the first of eleven Gold Cups won by Chip between 1982 and 1999.
Dave Villwock, who tied down his first Gold Cup with PICO AMERICAN DREAM, owned by Fred Leland, in 1996 and his second with Bernie Little's MISS BUDWEISER in 1997. Villwock has since claimed three additional Gold Cups for owner Little in 1998, 2000, and 2002. Dave's racing career almost ended following a serious accident in the 1997 Columbia Cup at the Tri-Cities, Washington. MISS BUDWEISER "blew over" in the Final Heat and Villwock suffered the loss of two fingers on his right hand.
The venerable Detroit Yacht Club, presenting sponsor of the 2014 Detroit Gold Cup, has long been associated with Gold Cup racing. As far back as 1917, Gar Wood was the winner with his DYC-registered MISS DETROIT II.
In 2016, the Detroit Gold Cup races will celebrate the 100th running on the Detroit River.
List of Gold Cup winners
NOTE: 1. Points from Detroit Unlimited Hydroplane Races will count. The American Boat Racing Association, which governs Unlimited Hydroplane Racing and sanctioned the Gold Cup as part of the High Points Championship, declared after the Gold Cup was called off Sunday as a no contest by the APBA that all previously conducted heat races during the meet count. Bernard and the U-5 Formulaboats.com scored the most points in qualifying and the heats conducted, thereby scoring a round win for championship purposes.
- "Hydroplanes find sponsor: Gold Cup goes on". 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2010-06-18. "Thanks to a Harrison Township company, the esteemed Gold Cup — first run on the river in 1916 — will be held July 9–11. Fears that organizers might struggle to finance this year’s race were shelved today when Jarvis Property Restoration signed on as title sponsor. The Gold Cup event officially will be known as the Grosse Point Yacht Club presents the Jarvis Property Restoration Detroit APBA Gold Cup."[dead link]