We're racing through history!
By Fred Farley - Unlimited Hydroplane Historian
Mr. Farley, I have a photograph of an old-time hydroplane from 1938 named MISS GOLDEN GATE with two men in the cockpit. Could you fill me in on the background of this particular craft? - Bill Drexel
MISS GOLDEN GATE from Oakland, California, measured 20 feet by 7-1/2 feet and was powered by a Wright/Hisso V-8 aircraft engine of World War I vintage.
The craft's three-point configuration resembled the popular Ventnor hulls of that era. She was designed by owner/driver Dan Arena and riding mechanic Danny Foster and built by E.A. McLean.
The team of Arena and Foster had won the prestigious Pacific Motor Boat Trophy in 1936 at Newport Harbor, California, with an earlier MISS GOLDEN GATE, a step hydroplane.
At the 1938 APBA Gold Cup in Detroit, the MISS GOLDEN GATE team was long on talent but short on cash. Still, they managed to survive all three 30-mile heats and to finish second overall to the Italian Count Theo Rossi and the Isotta-Fraschini-powered ALAGI.
Based upon their performance at Detroit, it was obvious that much would be heard from Arena and Foster in the years to come. And they were.
And the story of their finish in the Final Heat of the 1938 Gold Cup would become a racing legend. That was when, for the last 24 miles, Foster had to hang precariously out of the MISS GOLDEN GATE cockpit into the engine compartment, holding the gas controls open with his hands after the fittings connecting the foot throttle with the carburetors went adrift.
After time out for military service during World War II, Arena and Foster became heavily involved with the Allison-powered Unlimited Class and MISS GOLDEN GATE faded into obscurity. The craft made one post-war appearance at Lake Tahoe in 1953 as HONEYMOON, owned and driven by Dick Davis.