Guy Lombardo in Tempo VI, Miami, March 1948 Negative # 1984.187.119607F

In 1920, Guy Lombardo traveled from his home in London, Ontario to Detroit to watch the Gold Cup race. The Gold Cup race – officially known as “American Power Boat Association Challenge Cup” – is contested annually since the first race in 1904 (with the exception of WW II years).

In 1904 the boats plowed through the water instead of skimming the surface. The winning boat averaged 23 miles per hour. By 1916, the round-bottomed displacement boats were replaced with hydroplane hulls making 60 miles per hour or greater. While Guy Lombardo watched from the shore, Gar Wood set a Gold Cup heat record of 70.412 miles per hour in Miss America. The record would hold until 1946 when Lombardo himself would break the record in his boat Tempo VI (ex-My Sin).

Guy Lombardo began his career as a bandleader and violinist when he ventured to Cleveland in 1927 with his three brothers and friends seeking work as a dance band in ballrooms. Starting in 1929, Lombardo’s band brought in the New Year every year until his death in 1977. Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians were known to play “the sweetest music this side of heaven” – an effect that resulted from an inexperienced band avoiding the complexities of the music of the time. Lombardo realized that the band could play all the notes if the tempo of the tunes slowed down. With the lights of the halls dimmed down as well, it was an effect that dancers found enchanting. Although he had critics, the decision proved popular as he sold 300 million records during his lifetime.

The Gold Cup race of 1946 was the first major regatta since the war. Lombardo purchased My Sin for $6001.00, renamed the boat Tempo VI and won the National Sweepstakes in Red Bank, NJ. Almost half the field for the 1946 Gold Cup was 225-cubic-inch hydroplanes and Tempo VI considered the favorite. Lombardo won and set a new mark record of 73.295 miles per hour, beating Gar Wood’s record. He also set a new 90 mile average of 68.072 miles per hour.

Lombardo picked up the tempo further with his Ventnor-built hull in Miami in March 1948 by logging an average of 114.8 miles an hour over the measured mile of Indian Creek. Lombardo was forced to install a new power plant when Tempo VI’s engine wrecked after a broken connecting rod bolt broke both sides of the cylinder casing. (He had also lost the 1947 Gold Cup and the race at Red Bank to Miss Peps V, whose 1,700 horsepower beat Tempo VI’s 600 horsepower). Pictured here is Guy Lombardo in Tempo VI repowered with an Allison V12 aircraft engine, Miami, March 1948. It was the first time a boat powered by an aircraft engine developed during the war had been officially timed.

–Carol Mowrey