Miss US, Gale exhibitions to bring sights, sounds of '50s
Blasts from the Past
Thursday, July 03, 2014 11:00 AM
For the first time in 15 years race fans will be treated to the sights and sounds of piston-powered "conventional" style Unlimiteds this year at the Madison Regatta.
The vintage hydroplane Miss US IV (above) and a replica of the Gale V (below) will make exhibition runs on the Ohio River this weekend and veteran driver Jack Schafer will pilot the Miss US. Both boats were at Madison for exhibitions last year but that event was canceled by high water. (Courier file photo, above)
"It's going to be very exciting to watch two boats of that kind on the Ohio River again. It should be quite a scene." U1 Unlimited Historian Fred Farley
The Miss US IV and the replica Gale V, both 1950s style Unlimiteds, will be on hand to run exhibition laps on the Ohio River.
Not since the filming of the movie "Madison" in 1999 have Unlimiteds of this style been at Madison. The last competitive hull of the kind was the former "Winged Wonder" Miss Madison, which last raced in 1988.
"It's been a long time since we've had a chance to see these kinds of boats," H1 Official Historian Fred Farley said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Both boats were here last year and the Miss US IV was scheduled to do exhibition laps but the high Ohio River water level dashed those plans. Driver Jack Schafer Jr. thrilled the crowd however when he trailer-fired the boat on Vaughn Drive.
The Miss US IV does not have a distinguished past, despite being a member of the famed Miss US family of owner George Simon. The boat was built in 1957, raced competitively only twice and then was put into dry dock.
"I call it the forgotten Miss US," Farley said. "It was only one of three Unlimiteds that Henry Lauterbach built and just wasn't that fast."
Owner Simon commissioned two Unlimiteds that season, one from Lauterbach and the other from Jon Staudacher. The Staudacher hull became the Miss US I and won here in 1958 with Don Wilson driving. That boat ended up setting the world mile speed record of 200.420 mph at Lake Guntersville, Ala., four years later with Roy Duby at the wheel.
The Lauterbach hull, on the other hand, didn't see much action. As a favor to Lauterbach, Simon entered the boat in the 1957 season finale at Las Vegas and Wilson drove her to a second-place finish. Needing a fourth boat to fill out the field at Elizabeth City, N.C., the following year, Simon entered the IV and it finished fourth with Bud Saile at the wheel.
The only other action the boat saw was at Elizabeth City in 1957 when the Inboard Racing Commission booked two races on the same weekend, the other being at Madison. Simon sent the IV to North Carolina where, as it turned out, it was the only Unlimited to show up. Saile did some exhibition laps and was awarded the "first-place" trophy.
The boat was parked for good after the 1958 season and spent the next 50 years in Simon's warehouse in Detroit. There it sat undisturbed like a relic in an Egyptian tomb.
"Me and a friend of mine decided to try to find the boat in the mid-1980s," Farley said. "We knew it was in Simon's old warehouse, but it was a massive warehouse the size of a city block. We searched everywhere and never found it. About 20 years later, somebody found it in the one corner where we hadn't checked, covered in about eight inches of Detroit dust."
Jay Armstrong purchased the boat and restored it. In 2012, the boat made its return to the water at Chamberlain, S.D. Last year, it ended up turning laps on the Detroit River with Schafer, a veteran Unlimited driver, at the wheel.
Unlike the Miss US IV, the Gale V was a force in its brief tenure on the Unlimited circuit. Driven by Lee Schoenith, the boat won both the 1954 and 1955 National High Points Championships and took home the 1955 APBA Gold Cup in Seattle.
Owner Joe Schoenith's Gale Enterprises Race Team was one of the powerhouses of the sport in the 1950s and played a huge role in bringing Unlimited racing to Madison.
Gale team manager Bill Cantrell and then Madison Courier sports editor Phil Cole concocted a scheme to bring the Gale team's two boats to Madison, unbeknownst to the two other teams that were scheduled to run exhibition laps. With four Unlimiteds on hand, an official race could be run with Cantrell winning what became the first Indiana Governor's Cup for Unlimiteds aboard the Gale IV.
Lee Schoenith and the Gale V won five races through the 1954 and 1955 seasons and after the second year, Joe Schoenith retired the boat. Two other boats ran as "Gale V" but neither had the impact of the first.
Like a lot of wooden boats from the era, the original Gale V did not survive. A few years ago, Bill and Judy Black of Missouri began the task of recreating the boat.
Bill Black finally got the boat on the water last year and like Schafer, plans on running exhibition laps this year. The two boats are scheduled to run from 10-10:20 a.m. and 3:30-4 p.m. on Saturday, and again from 2-2:45 p.m. on Sunday.
"It's going to be very exciting to watch two boats of that kind on the Ohio River again," Farley said. "It should be quite a scene."2014 MADISON REGATTA
INDiANA Governor's Cup
(All times subject to change)
Saturday, July 5
9-10 a.m. - H1 Unlimited Testing Session No. 1
10-10:20 a.m. - Vintage Unlimited Exhibition Session No. 1
10:30-10:45 a.m. - Opening Ceremonies
11 a.m-Noon - Unlimited Hydroplane Testing Session No. 2
1:30 p.m. - "Pole Position" Unlimited Hydroplane Qualifications
3:30-4 p.m. - Vintage Unlimited Exhibition Session No. 2
3:45 p.m. - Tony & Phyllis Steinhardt and Family present the Fastest Unlimited Hydroplane Qualifier Award
4-4:30 p.m. - H1 Unlimited Testing Session No. 2 or Dash For Cash
Sunday, July 6
9-10 a.m. - Unlimited Hydroplane Testing Session No. 3
10:10-10:30 a.m. - Opening Ceremonies
11 a.m. - Clifty Engineering & Tool Company Unlimited Heat 1A
11:20 a.m. - Morgan Foods Unlimited Heat 1B
11:40 a.m. - Unlimited Heat 1C (if necessary)
11:50 a.m. - Awards Ceremony at Judge's Stand for Heat Winners
1:10 p.m. - American Legion Post No. 9 Unlimited Heat 2A
1:30 p.m. - Budweiser Unlimited Heat 2B
1:50 p.m. - Unlimited Heat 2C (if necessary)
2 p.m. - Awards Ceremony at Judge's Stand for Heat Winners
2-2:45 p.m. - Vintage Unlimited Exhibition Session No. 3
2:45 p.m. - Jacque Thacker Memorial Unlimited Heat 3A
3:05 p.m. - Active Military & Veterans Unlimited Heat 3B
3:15 p.m. - Awards Ceremony at Judge's Stand for Heat Winners
4:05 p.m. - The Indiana Governor's Cup Final Heat
4:30 p.m. - Indiana Governor's Cup Awards Presentation at the Judge's Stand