We're racing through history!
By Fred Farley - Unlimited Hydroplane Historian
Fred, what is the lineage of Horace Dodge, Jr.'s, MY SWEETIE boats? - Sam Winer
The original MY SWEETIE and driver Bill Cantrell won the 1949 APBA Gold Cup on the Detroit River when it was owned by a couple of Detroit marina operators named Ed Gregory and Ed Schoenherr. Shortly thereafter, the Dodge family purchased the hull from Gregory and Schoenherr, who then retired from the sport.
Horace Dodge, Jr., never actually owned any of his family's race boats. His mother did. Anna Thompson Dodge had control of Horace's money until the day he died (in 1964).
By mid-season 1951, the Gold Cup winner had seen its better days and needed to be retired.. But Horace was on the outs with his mother at the time. She wouldn't give him money for a new boat, but she would authorize repairs to the old one.. Horace and Les Staudacher cooked up a scheme. Horace and crew member Al D'Eath hauled the old boat up to Staudacher's plant in Bay City, Michigan, where they burned it and replaced it with a new hull. Staudacher sent Mrs. Dodge a bill for repairs to the old boat, but it was really for construction of the new boat. D'Eath told me that the identity of this second MY SWEETIE was deliberately shrouded in mystery to keep Mrs. Dodge unaware of the skullduggery.
By 1953, relations between Horace and his mother had obviously improved. He showed up at Washington, D.C., with a third MY SWEETIE, which was renamed DORA MY SWEETIE in 1954.
For 1954, Dodge ran three boats: a new JOHN FRANCES MY SWEETIE, the DORA MY SWEETIE, and the re-activated second MY SWEETIE (nicknamed "The Little MY SWEETIE"). By some miracle, all three of his boats made the Final Heat of the 1954 Detroit Silver Cup and, at one point, were running one-two-three. The DORA, driven by Jack Bartlow, won the race. This was Horace's last major win.
Dodge continued in racing until 1956, before descending into alcoholism.
The DORA vanished off the face of the earth after 1956. I saw the little MY SWEETIE in an extreme state of disrepair, exposed to the elements, at Al D'Eath's marina in Michigan in 1973. The JOHN FRANCIS was stored indoors and has been put back in the water. I saw it run at an antique boat exhibition in Toronto in 1984.