U-37 Slo-Mo-Shun V
From time to time this site covers something besides open-wheel auto racing history. The subject of today’s article is one of the famed hydroplane racers on display at the Museum of Speed which demonstrates the diversity of the museum in Wilsonville Oregon. The racer is the famous U-37 Slo-Mo-Shun V hydroplane race boat.
Slo-Mo-Shun V was the last in a series of hydroplane race boats owned by Seattle Washington’s Stanley St.Clair Sayres who owned the area’s largest Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. Sayres first started boat racing in 1936 when he was a car salesman in Pendleton Oregon and bought the Slo-Mo-Shon an 18-foot Ventnor 225 Cubic Inch Class hydroplane in 1938 from famed racer “Pop" Cooper of St. Louis, Missouri. The first Slo-Mo-Shun was lost after its Ford flathead engine broke a connecting rod, the boat caught fire and sank in Lake Washington in 1941.
Slo-Mo-Shun V designed by Ted Jones and built at Anchor Jenson’s Boat Works debuted at the 1951 APBA (American Power Boat Association) Gold Cup held on Lake Washington. This new boat powered by a 1710-cubic inch 1750-horsepower Allison aircraft engine was a “three-point prop rider,” meaning it trapped air under its 12-foot wide hull with only the two sponsons and the propeller in contact with the water. Slo-Mo-Shun V led all 60 official miles of racing under the command of its driver, bus manufacturer and Indianapolis car owner Lou Fageol.
Fageol and Slo-Mo-Shun V also won the 1953 President’s Cup held on the Potomac River near Washington DC and captured the 1954 Gold Cup on Lake Washington by winning all three heats over its sister boat Slo-Mo-Shun IV. With the 1954 win, owner Sayres had captured the APBA Gold Cup five straight years.
This famous painting by Jim Collier depicts the 1955 flip
During qualifying for the 1955 Gold Cup Fageol and Slo-Mo-Shun V averaged 124 mph for two and a half laps before the 28-foot long boat flipped over backwards 50 feet in the air at an estimated 165 miles per hour. Fageol miraculously escaped death but was hospitalized with broken ribs and spinal injuries which forced his retirement as a hydroplane driver.
Sayers sold the damaged Slo-Mo-Shun V to a group of Seattle businessmen who repaired the boat and raced it from 1956 to 1962 as Miss Seattle. Mr. Sayers died of a heart attack at age 60 in September 1956. In 1991 Ken Muscatel, Bruce McCaw and Howard Leendersten teamed up to buy the boat and funded the restoration.
Photos by the author