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1935 Gold Cup

Reprinted from TIME Magazine, August 5, 1935

No. I event of U. S. motorboat racing, in years when no one challenges Gar Wood for the Harmsworth Trophy, is the race for the Gold Cup in which specifications, changed from year to year, place definite limits on the size and power of competing craft. Put up in 1904, the Gold Cup cost $730, is gold plate on silver. Experts estimate that motorboat enthusiasts have spent $40,000,000 trying to win it. Last week, on Lake George, N. Y., five long-nosed hydroplanes zoomed over the dark green water getting ready for the start. On the eve of the race, two had broken down and withdrawn. Of the three remaining, the favorite was George Reis's El Lagarto, winner in 1933 and 1934 and one of the most remarkable boats afloat.

El Lagarto ("The Lizard") was built in 1922. That made her, compared to her rivals last week, a specimen of early Americana but antiquity is not El Lagarto's only distinction. For her first owner, Ed Grimm, who called her Miss Mary, El Lagarto performed miserably in the Gold Cup races of 1923 and 1924. Mr. Reis (pronounced "Rice"), who wanted a fast runabout for his Lake George summer home, bought her in 1925, renamed her for the reptile which he considers so lucky that he uses a large stuffed one with a hole in its back on his library desk for an ashtray. In 1931, after he built El Lagartito for the Gold Cup race, Driver Reis began to tinker with El Lagarto and the Packard motor with which he had replaced her original power plant in 1925. He had her bottom "shingled," to make her ride high in the water instead of cutting through it. When she outdistanced El Lagartito in trial spins, Mr. Reis decided to enter her in the 1931 race. She led for the first two 30-mile heats before breaking a connecting rod. In 1932, she finished a close second to Horace Dodge's Delphine IV, driven by Bill Horn.

Improving with age, El Lagarto won the Gold Cup at Detroit in 1933 with a heat record of 60.866 m. p. h. and then went on to win the two other major motorboat races of that year. Last year on Lake George, where, by the conditions of the race which gives the holder of the Cup the right to name the course, Driver Reis had the race run, she had a close call before she beat Delphine IV. Last month Driver Reis installed a new Miller motor. A few days before the race, a broken connecting rod turned this into a twisted pile of junk which could not be rebuilt in time for the start. Mr. Reis reinstalled his old motor, stopped tinkering and announced that his boat was ready to race, against Bill Horn's Delphine IV, with a new $7,000 supercharger and Victor Kliesrath's Hotsy Totsy II, with a brand new supercharged Wright motor. If she could win, it would be the first time one boat had taken the Cup three times.

El Lagarto ("The Lizard") was built in 1922. That made her, compared to her rivals last week, a specimen of early Americana but antiquity is not El Lagarto's only distinction. For her first owner, Ed Grimm, who called her Miss Mary, El Lagarto performed miserably in the Gold Cup races of 1923 and 1924. Mr. Reis (pronounced "Rice"), who wanted a fast runabout for his Lake George summer home, bought her in 1925, renamed her for the reptile which he considers so lucky that he uses a large stuffed one with a hole in its back on his library desk for an ashtray. In 1931, after he built El Lagartito for the Gold Cup race, Driver Reis began to tinker with El Lagarto and the Packard motor with which he had replaced her original power plant in 1925. He had her bottom "shingled," to make her ride high in the water instead of cutting through it. When she outdistanced El Lagartito in trial spins, Mr. Reis decided to enter her in the 1931 race. She led for the first two 30-mile heats before breaking a connecting rod. In 1932, she finished a close second to Horace Dodge's Delphine IV, driven by Bill Horn.

Improving with age, El Lagarto won the Gold Cup at Detroit in 1933 with a heat record of 60.866 m. p. h. and then went on to win the two other major motorboat races of that year. Last year on Lake George, where, by the conditions of the race which gives the holder of the Cup the right to name the course, Driver Reis had the race run, she had a close call before she beat Delphine IV. Last month Driver Reis installed a new Miller motor. A few days before the race, a broken connecting rod turned this into a twisted pile of junk which could not be rebuilt in time for the start. Mr. Reis reinstalled his old motor, stopped tinkering and announced that his boat was ready to race, against Bill Horn's Delphine IV, with a new $7,000 supercharger and Victor Kliesrath's Hotsy Totsy II, with a brand new supercharged Wright motor. If she could win, it would be the first time one boat had taken the Cup three times.

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