APBA Gold Cup

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APBA Gold Cup
APBA Gold Cup
Title sponsor UAW-GM Center for Human Resources
Dates August 27–28, 2016
Location Detroit River, Detroit, Michigan
Track length 2.5 mi (4 km) (TBD?)
First race 1904
Most recent winner U-5 Miss Graham Trucking
Driver - J. Michael Kelly
Website http://www.detroitboatraces.com/ (2016 race)

APBA Gold Cup is the premier hydroplane boat race in the United States, which is sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association and run as part of the H1 Unlimited season. The race has been contested annually since 1904, and, up until 1990, rotated regularly between locations.


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 Chris-Craft Boats) 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 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 Chris-Craft fame.

The sport's first superstar rose to prominence, winning the 1917 Gold Cup in Minneapolis. Named after two U.S. Presidents, Garfield 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 Chris-Craft 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 and led by D.J. Nolan "The White Haired Boy" and famed aeronautical engineer from GM' Allison Division in Indianapolis, for the war effort, produced new enthusiasm for America's premier powerboat 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. From 1990 to 2014, all Gold Cup races were contested in the Motor City. In 2015 the Gold Cup was held in Tri-Cities Washington for their 50th anniversary of Gold Cup racing, the 2016 event is in Detroit for their 100th anniversary.

Fran Muncey (Bill Muncey's widow) became the new owner of the Atlas Van Lines boat, and Chip Hanauer took over driving the boat and won the first of his eleven Gold Cups between 1982 and 1999.

Dave Villwock 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.

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 Tempo VI
1947 Danny Foster G-99 Miss Pepsi 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 U-37 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 Cancelled after Weather delay ABRA HPC Round *Note 1
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
2015 Jimmy Shane U-1 Oberto
2016 J Michael Kelly U-5 Graham Trucking

Exceptions: 1904 - The Gold Cup was run & awarded twice 1928 - No contest (no entrants to meet the new rules?) 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945 - No contest (WW II) 1960 - No contest because of high winds (no heats completed) 2008 - Gold Cup declared no contest because of high winds; High Points Championship round was declared completed.

  • Note 1: The American Power Boat Association, which sanctions the Gold Cup as part of the American Boat Racing Association season, declared the Gold Cup no contest because of high winds after two heats were completed, and attempts to start the third heat were unsuccessful after incidents. ABRA Unlimited series officials declared the round official and counted all points accumulated from Gold Cup qualifying and completed heat races (1A, 1B, 2A, 2B) towards the national High Points Championship as rules state once a minimum of three boats cross the start line in the first heat, the race is official for High Points purposes. The H1 Unlimited results sheet includes the 2008 Gold Cup race.[1][2]


External links[edit]