For most people, Guy Lombardo is remembered as the legendary Canadian musician and bandleader of the red-jacketed Royal Canadians best-known for “The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven”. What isn’t as well known to many is that he was also a highly successful hydroplane racer.
Born in London, Ontario, Guy originally caught the boat racing bug as a young boy by running his fathers flat bottom row boat up and down the Thames River in London. “Papa” had evidently purchased the first outboard motor in London and attached it to the rowboat. Even though the top speed of this motor was only about six miles an hour, the sense of speed and control of this power was enough to set the stage for Guy’s future racing exploits.
But, it was many years before Guy officially entered the world of boat racing. Despite missing the start of his first race because he couldn’t hear the starters pistol, Lombardo quickly demonstrated that he was a fast learner and very talented. In 1942, in the 225 Cubic Inch class, Guy won 20 of the 21 races he entered. He did not race again until after World War II.
When Guy resumed racing, he stepped up to the elite Unlimited Hydroplane racing class following the purchase of MY SIN, the 1939 and 1941 American Power Boat Association Gold Cup Unlimited Class Winner piloted by Zalmon Simmons. In 1948, Guy renamed the craft TEMPO VI.Between 1946 and 1953, Guy is credited with fifteen Unlimited or Gold Cup victories. His two major victories were the 1946 Gold Cup and the 1948 Ford Memorial Contests, both run in Detroit with TEMPO VI.Other wins include the 1946, 1950, and 1951 National Sweepstakes Trophy Races in Red Bank, New Jersey; the 1949 and 1950 Star Spangled Banner Regattas in Baltimore, Maryland; and the 1950 and 1951 Buffalo Launch Club Regattas. At Miami Beach in March 1946, Lombardo broke the record for super-charged Gold Cup class boats with a one-mile straightway average of 113.031 mph, eclipsing the former mark of 100.987 set in 1940. In doing so, he became the second Gold Cupper in history to clear the then elusive 100 mph.
Guy continued racing TEMPO VI until 1953 and appeared occasionally in the cockpits of other well-known boats.Skipping the 1954 campaign, Guy reappeared in 1955 with a new TEMPO VII – which the press labelled “The Sweetest Boat This Side of Heaven”.
Image via The Hydroplane and Race Boats Museum