Live-ish From New York – It’s The Lake George Gold Cup Festival!

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The action packed Lake George Gold Cup Festival.

JUST YESTERDAY WE WERE HAVING A SPIRITED DISCUSSION HERE ON WOODY BOATER about classic boat shows and, what some people feel, is the need for more “Dynamic” events… And then we received the following Live-ish Report from fellow Woody Boaters Chris & Julie Bullen who were part of the action at Lake George.

The timing of today’s story was not pre-planned, it just happened naturally. Perfect timing though… Here’s their report. – Texx

el lagarto2

A refreshing and exciting ride in “El Lagarto 2” on Saturday.

Lake George Gold Cup Festival
Lake George, New York
Story & Photos by Julie & Chris Bullen

This year – on our way to the 2015 ACBS International in Minnesota (from Ontario, Canada – not the most direct route but it worked) we took a little side trip as Teri Hoffman invited us to attend the “Lake George Gold Cup Festival” in New York. Beautiful and historic Lake George is located at the base of the Adirondack Mountains, in the northeastern portion of New York state.

"Elusive" and "Miss Detroit III"

Race boats “Elusive” and “Miss Detroit III” ready do race on Lake George.

The Vision: A Re-Creation of the 1935 Gold Cup Race on Lake George

From the Gold Cup Festival website:

Lake George Gold Cup Festival organizers started getting involved in a recreation the Gold Cup Races in 2013. Local residents Norm Dascher, Jr., Teri Hoffman, Bob Phillips and Buzz Lamb are the founding members of the Gold Cup Committee of Lake George and they aim to re-create what was then powerboating’s most prestigious race.

El Lagarto, “The Leaping Lizard of Lake George”, owned/driven by George Reis and riding mechanic Anderson “Dick” Bowers won the 1933 Gold Cup Race in Detroit. Reis, Bowers and El Lagarto made it two Gold Cups in a row in 1934 at Lake George. In 1935, for the first time in history, a boat (El Lagarto) won three Gold Cups in succession. Reis and his 13-year-old “Lizard” would not be denied.

And who doesn’t like to see race boats – right? So here we are in Lake George.


A classic Gold Cup heat race on Lake George Saturday.

The inspiration for the event was to celebrate the “El Lagarto” nick named Leaping Lizard. George Reis was one of the most successful amateur drivers in speed boat racing. Reis teamed up with Dick Bowers and took an noncompetitive boat named “Miss Mary” and turned her into a real competitive Gold Cup winner.

The original “Miss Mary” ran 44 MPH and she ended up running 72.727 MPH. By adding steps and greatly improving the performance of the Packard engine they managed to win the Gold Cup in 1933, 1934, and on Lake George in 1935.

Its been 80 years since the last Gold Cup was held here. It was way over do for a party. And after all – we are always looking for a reason to party – so 80 years is a good one.

Day 1 – Friday

We have never been to Lake George before, and I have to say I think we will come back. It’s one beautiful place! Thirty-two miles long by Three miles wide and 176 islands make it a great lake to go classic boating.

A sold out list of boats means a total of 35 are here this weekend. Eight of those are the “real McCoy” which is a pretty darn good showing. Three of those, we will be chasing back to Minnesota as they are from the Lee Anderson collection. “Ethyl Ruth IV”, “Baby Skipalong” and “IMP II”. The others are “Scotty II”, “Juno”, “Baby Watercar”, “Dixie Baby”, “Zitoplane V” – the last 3 were land displays.

We had a visit to the tumblehome boat shop today. That’s a crazy nice shop. It has lots of landscaping very pretty and the show room, wow and the shop is a place anyone of us would be proud to call or own thanks to Ruben and his wife who gave us the tour and provided much needed refreshments and other treats.

tumble showroom

The impressive Tumblehome Boatshop in Warrensburg, NY near the Hudson River.

On exhibit in the Tumblehome showcase building "El Lagarto" Gold Cup Race Boat.

On exhibit in the Tumblehome showcase building is the amazing “El Lagarto” Gold Cup Race Boat.

George Reis and El Lagarto boathouse.

George Reis and the “El Lagarto” boathouse.

georges boathouse

Anothere shot of the beautiful George Reis / “El Lagarto” boathouse.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we have the show and get to run the boats in 3 Demonstration Heat Races that’s going to make for some good photos. Heats 2 and 3 have 9 and 10 boats in them. Not sure how this is planned yet, but will certainly be fun to both watch and participate in with “Riot” our 1996 25′ Clarion Gold Cup boat.

Here is a list of the boats scheduled to participate in the event courtesy of fellow Woody Boater Tom Keyes:

4 Today – 1990 21′ James Anthony Buzz & Cheryl Lamb
Baby Gar V – 1995 33′ GarWood Robert & Victoria Banister
Baby Grand – 2009 21′ Muller Bo & Kathy Muller
Baby Watercar – 1937′ 27 Dodge Antique Boat Museum
Curtis Wilgold – 1923′ 26 Hacker Mark Mason
Dixie Baby – 1921 24′ Ventnor Lorne Liebel
El Lagarto – 1923 26′ Hacker Adirondack Museum
El Lagarto – 2012 26′ Fish Bros. Matt & Lois Emmens
Elusive – 2000 32′ Golden Classics Don Price
Ethyl Ruth IV (Chloe) – 1935 27′ Hacker Lee & Penny Anderson
G-19 – 2014 26′ Fish Bros. Peter & Connie Fish
Greenwich Folley – 1924 27′ Nevins Lee & Penny Anderson
IMP II – 1930 28′ Purdy Lee & Penny Anderson
Impshi – 1925 27′ Dodge Mark Mason
Jacqueline – 2002 28′ Van Dam Chris Freihofer
Juno – 1937 20′ Ventnor Peter Kreissle
Just For You – 2010 28′ GarWood Jack & Denise Rifenburg
Lady Lori – 1992 35′ Hacker Thomas DeNooyer
Lady Shores – 1923 26′ Hacker Keith Kipp
Lulu – 2004 22′ GarWood GarWood Boats
Miss APBA – 2014 26′ Hacker Hacker Boat Company
Miss Detroit III – 2005 20′ Michaud Kenneth Muscatel
Moonshine – 2012 30′ Sawmill Boatworks Paul & Lori Jordon
My Buddy – 1995 25′ Hacker Daniel & Ellen Hogarty
Not Forgotten – 1930 40′ Hutchinson Jack & Denise Rifenburg
Retirement Plan – 2011 26′ Reets Boatworks Adam & Jessica Retersdorf
Riot – 1996 25′ Clarion Chris & Julie Bullen
Scotty Too – 1929 26′ Hacker Judy Larter
T-14 – 2001 26′ Wilson Teresa Hoffman
Thunder – 2001 27′ Ditchburn Michael & Beverly Thompson
Troublemaker IV – 1997 27′ Fish Bros. John & Nancy Chimento
Zitoplane V – 1931 27′ Zito John & Marilyn Freeman


It’s crazy warm here for September 19th in the Adirondacks of NY. But we are happy the sun is shining for this special event.

it got roughRiot lady shores2

Saturday Heat Races – “Riot” and “Lady Shores 2” mixing it up on Lake George.

Teri Hoffman dreamed this up 10 years ago and she was overwhelmed at all the support she received from the boating community – both in the very generous field of boats in attendance and also for the huge team she was able to assemble in order to pull this event off.

She gathered some of the finest wooden boats and they were all ready to take to the water for the very large crowd. The anticipation was high to hear the sounds of those amazing engines of a forgotten era.

Well it was almost perfect except for one minor detail – the wind… Oh the September winds! It just got worse as the day progressed with 4 to 6 foot waves, which made many decide stay on shore or just go out for a couple of laps. So unfortunately we did not see the rarest boats show in their awesomeness.


The wind and the waves made for some challenging demonstration heat races – but everyone sure had fun includinmg the spectators, race boat crews and photographers. But we are a hardy bunch…


Just like in the good-old-days!

Black & White Lake George

Vintage Gold Cup racing on Lake George. Which shot (the color or the B&W) looks more chaotic to you?

We did however see many of the lesser rare boats out on the water and they did put on a show. We all left the course knowing very well the temperature of the water – from our head to our toes.


“Ethyl Ruth IV” from the Lee Anderson Collection got wet in the waves on Saturday.

The day ended with a parade of sorts and a helicopter fly-by to take some photos and we all raced to the ramp to get out of the water and head for dinner.

Mark out with his grandson

Fellow Woody Boater and vintage race boat restoration expert Mark Mason out with his grandson on calmer waters in “Impshi”.

LuLu at speed

“Lulu” 2004 22′ Gar Wood Boats racer at speed. on smooth water.

The dinner was also special as we saw some rare footage of a few Gold Cup races staring “El Lagarto” from a private film collection. The night ended with a few thank-you’s and super award for all in attendance. A memorable experience for us, glad we were able to make to down Lake George.

Chris & Julie Bullen

Special thanks to Chris & Julie for sharing their farm-fresh story with us today, it’s so great to see and learn about these wonderful vintage race boat events and the vision of the event organizers and volunteers.

Congratulations to the Lake George Gold Cup Festival organizers, including local residents Norm Dascher, Jr., Teri Hoffman, Bob Phillips and Buzz Lamb. Nice work everyone!

For more information on the Lake George Gold Cup Festival you can check out their great website by Clicking Here.


13 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Now that’s what anyone can call a “dynamic” event. What a collection of great racers, getting wet just like they were meant to. It would be great to do something similar on the Detroit River some day. Thank you Chris, Julie and Texx for sharing.

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    For some reason the B&W pic seems more chaotic to me.

    Looks and sounds like a fabulous event. Now I just need to buy a Gold Cup Racer.

    So many boats, so little time and money. 🙂

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    That looks like a rather rough day on the water. Not as bad as a Matt Smith rainout, but not quite Texx perfection. I bet that was a lot of fun as long as you didn’t lose any fillings.

  4. Jon Peele
    Jon Peele says:

    Great show. Pre war high powered racers on the water racing. That should create interest among those who think that wood boats are slow moving pieces of polished furniture.

  5. G Gordon Gray
    G Gordon Gray says:

    The pictures are GREAT, fun to look at. But what about the SOUND of the engines ? Make us drool at the sound of a race boat starting or maybe ..running.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      We don’t have any video / audio of the Gold Cup boats running, but if you need a fix you can always go to Part 2.2 of the EVANGELINE story from last Friday to hear the 450 HP Liberty V-12 fire up.

  6. R. Harris
    R. Harris says:

    I grew up on Lk. George and that water does not look uncommon. I’ve seen it go from dead calm to what you see in the picks in a matter minutes. So nice to see the El Lagarto out of its dusty corner in the museum. Nice job Terry ! A-711

  7. Russ
    Russ says:

    Great reporting of what looks like it was a great event! Thanks to organizers, participants and reporters. We spent summers living on the “east side” of the lake and our rides up the lake and through the “Narrows” (location of most of the referenced “176 islands”) would always include cruising by the Reis boathouse hoping that the door was open so that we could see the El Lagarto more or less hanging from the rafters.

    It truly is a great cruising lake and I think the boathouse is now a B&B.

  8. Ray Hull
    Ray Hull says:

    Great reporting! From one who was a Course Monitor in the steady SE wind and chop, I know that took effort. I asked for the SW corner so that I could photograph the action and my wish was granted; what I didn’t count on was that being the busiest boat-spectator corner where everybody was constantly being blown onto the course.

    Due to all the spectator ‘shooing’ activity, I gave up trying to photograph until the parade lap, but still landed some decent shots. You can see some shots here:
    Dockside Saturday morning shots are here:
    And finally, the genuine article El Lagarto at Tumblehome Boat Works where Reuben Smith had worked his magic:

    Click twice on each shot to fully enlarge.

    Buzz and Cheryl Lamb of Bolton Landing were the real anchors and their efforts were most appreciated.

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