APBA Challenge Cup

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Detroit Gold Cup
Formerly APBA Challenge Cup
Sport Hydroplane Racing
Founded 1904
Claim to fame The oldest active trophy in motor sports
Inaugural season 1916 in Detroit
Country USA
Venue(s) Detroit, MI
Continent North America
Most recent champion(s) 2014 Oberto- Jimmy Shane
Sponsor(s) Detroit Yacht Club
Related competitions H1 Unlimited
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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.[1] 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.

Miss America hydroplane driven by Gar Wood in 1921

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[edit]

Year Driver Boat
1904 Carl C. Riotte Standard
1904 Willis Sharpe Kilmer Vingt et Un II
1905 Jonathan Wainwright Standard
1906 Jonathan Wainwright Chip II
1907 Jonathan Wainwright Chip II
1908 Jonathan Wainwright Dixie II
1909 Jonathan Wainwright Dixie II
1910 Frederick K. Burnham Dixie III
1911 J.H. Hayden MIT II
1912 A. Graham Miles P.D.Q. II
1913 Casimir S. Mankowski Ankle Deep
1914 Robert Edgren & Jim Blackton, Jr Baby Speeddemon II
1915 Jack Beebe & John "Freckles" Milot Miss Detroit
1916 Bernard Smith Miss Minneapolis
1917 Gar Wood Miss Detroit II
1918 Gar Wood Miss Detroit III
1919 Gar Wood Miss Detroit III
1920 Gar Wood Miss Detroit IV
1921 Gar Wood Miss America
1922 Jesse G. Vincent Packard Chriscraft
1923 Caleb Bragg Packard Chriscraft
1924 Caleb Bragg Baby Bootlegger
1925 Caleb Bragg Baby Bootlegger
1926 George H. Townsend Greenwich Folley
1927 George H. Townsend Greenwich Folley
1928 N.A. No Contest
1929 Richard. F. Hoyt I M P II
1930 Victor William Kliesrath Hotsy Totsy
1931 Victor William Kliesrath Hotsy Totsy
1932 Bill Horn Delphine IV
1933 George Reis El Lagarto
1934 George Reis El Lagarto
1935 George Reis El Lagarto
1936 Kaye Don Impshi
1937 Clell Perry Notre Dame
1938 Theo Rossi Alagi
1939 Zalmon Guy Simmons, Jr. My Sin
1940 Sidney Allen Hotsy Totsy III
1941 Zalmon Guy Simmons, Jr. My Sin
1942 N.A. No Contests- World War II
1943 N.A. No Contests- World War II
1944 N.A. No Contests- World War II
1945 N.A. No Contests- World War II
1946 Guy Lombardo G-13 Temp VI
1947 Danny Foster G-99 Miss Peps V
1948 Danny Foster G-4 Miss Great Lakes
1949 Bill Cantrell U-3 My Sweetie
1950 Ted Jones U-27 Slo-Mo-Shun IV
1951 Lou Fageol U-37 Slo-Mo Shun V
1952 Stan Dollar U-27 Slo-Mo-Shun IV
1953 Joe Taggart U-27 Slo-Mo-Shun IV
1954 Lou Fageol Slo-Mo-Shun V
1955 Lee Schoenith Gale V
1956 Bill Muncey Miss Thriftway
1957 Bill Muncey Miss Thriftway
1958 Jack Regas Hawaii Kai III
1959 Bill Stead Maverick
1960 N.A. No Contest- High Winds
1961 Bill Muncey Miss Century 21 Thriftway Stores
1962 Bill Muncey Miss Century 21 Thriftway Stores
1963 Ron Musson Miss Bardahl
1964 Ron Musson Miss Bardahl
1965 Ron Musson Miss Bardahl
1966 Miro Slovak Tahoe Miss
1967 Bill Schumacher Miss Bardahl
1968 Bill Schumacher Miss Bardahl
1969 Bill Sterret Miss Budweiser
1970 Dean Chenoweth Miss Budweiser
1971 Jim McCormick Miss Madison
1972 Bill Muncey Atlas Van Lines
1973 Dean Chenoweth Miss Budweiser
1974 George Henley Pay'n Pak
1975 George Henley Pay'n Pak
1976 Tom D'Eath Miss U.S.
1977 Bill Muncey Atlas Van Lines
1978 Bill Muncey Atlas Van Lines
1979 Bill Muncey Atlas Van Lines
1980 Dean Chenoweth Miss Budweiser
1981 Dean Chenoweth Miss Budweiser
1982 Chip Hanauer Atlas Van Lines
1983 Chip Hanauer Atlas Van Lines
1984 Chip Hanauer Atlas Van Lines
1985 Chip Hanauer Miller American
1986 Chip Hanauer Miller American
1987 Chip Hanauer Miller American
1988 Chip Hanauer Circus Circus
1989 Tom D'Eath Miss Budweiser
1990 Tom D'Eath Miss Budweiser
1991 Mark Tate Winston Eagle
1992 Chip Hanauer Miss Budweiser
1993 Chip Hanauer Miss Budweiser
1994 Mark Tate Smokin' Joe's
1995 Chip Hanauer Miss Budweiser
1996 Dave Villwock Pico American Dream
1997 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
1998 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
1999 Chip Hanauer Miss Pico
2000 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
2001 Michael Hanson Tubby's Subs
2002 Dave Villwock Miss Budweiser
2003 Mitch Evans Miss Fox Hills
2004 Nate Brown Dick Scott
2005 Terry Troxell Miss Al Deeby Dodge
2006 Jean Theoret Miss Beacon Plumbing
2007 Dave Villwock Miss Elam Plus
2008 Jeff Bernard No contest - 1 U-5 FormulaBoats.com
2009 Dave Villwock Miss Elam Plus
2010 Dave Villwock Spirit of Qatar
2011 Dave Villwock Spirit of Qatar
2012 Dave Villwock Spirit of Qatar
2013 Kip Brown Spirit of Qatar
2014 Jimmy Shane U-6 Oberto (Miss Madison)

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.


  1. ^ "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]

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