Chairman Steve David had a smile on his face and excitement in his voice Saturday night. More than 200 individuals in attendance along with emcee Brad Luce celebrated the sport of unlimited hydroplane racing at the Annual H1 Unlimited Awards Banquet at the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59.
“I always enjoy the annual banquet, but this year it is very special,” said the new H1 Chairman David. “I believe we have a realistic outlook at the standing of our sport, and we had two days of high energy, team oriented meetings during our annual meeting. And tonight, we honor and thank the individuals and the teams who gave this sport an extraordinary effort in 2014.”
It was probably apropos that David in his first year as H1 Chairman and retired driver of the Oberto boat was able to hand out the top awards to the night to driver Jimmy Shane and the Oberto team. Shane won the 2014 National High Point Champion while his Oberto team was awarded the Martini and Rossi National High Point Championship Trophy for winning the high point boat championship. The Oberto brand was also named as H1 Unlimited Sponsor of the Year.
Larry Hanson, crew chief for the Oberto team, and Graham Trucking crew chief Tom Anderson were named co-recipients of the Mechanix Wear Crew Chief of the Year Award.
Ted Porter, the owner of the two Graham Trucking hydroplanes, also took home some hardware honored as the Owner of the Year. And the entire Graham Trucking crew was named Crew of the Year. The two Graham Trucking teams along with drivers J. Michael Kelly and Cal Phipps were runner-ups to the Oberto team this past season in the high point chase.
Director of Operations Ted Grange was honored for his outstanding contributions not only as the ‘Pit Boss’ but for all the extra work he provided helping teams with travel to and from Doha, Qatar and providing the plan and hard work to ensure the races run as a professional event.
Brian Hajny not only was named Chief Referee for 2015 on Saturday, he was also awarded the Official of the Year honor at the banquet while the Tri-City Water Follies were named Site of the Year as it prepares to host their 50th annual unlimited hydroplane race and the APBA Gold Cup, July 24 thru 26.
Kim Forsell was honored with Vic Nelawake Spirit Award. She attended her first race at the age of 14 and started volunteering at Seafair in 1995. To fill her time between races she takes on volunteer positions such as Royal Order of The Turbine (R.O.T.T) banquet coordinator, Seafair Boat Club Commodore, Seafair Milk Carton Chairman, Seafair Landside Section Chief as well as volunteering with Tastin’ & Racin’ and Mahogany & Merlot. And she also works as a volunteer for the U-17 team.
Steve Montgomery, the longtime broadcasting, media and PR man for the unlimited hydroplanes, was taken by surprise Saturday night when Luce not only announced Montgomery with the Lifetime Achievement Award, H1 Unlimited also named the annual media award for the Washington State alumnus.
Dave Goricki, a sports writer for The Detroit News and a graduate of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, was then named the winner of the Inaugural Steve Montgomery Excellence in Media Award.
Goricki has covered the Super Bowl, the World Series, the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup finals, a plethora of college sports including basketball and football and, of course, motors sports. A fixture at the auto races in Michigan, Goricki has also become a fixture in the Bill Muncey Memorial pits in Detroit over the last decade. Not only has he has helped publicize the sport of unlimited hydroplane for almost a decade with his outstanding coverage in The Detroit News, he is a journalist who cares about the sport and would like nothing better than to see the unlimited hydroplanes back on The Detroit River.
The 2015 H1 Unlimited season is scheduled to start with the Madison (Indiana) Regatta on the Ohio River, July 3-5.
THE 2014 H1 UNLIMITED AWARD WINNERS
Crew of the Year – Graham Trucking
Mechanix Wear Crew Chief of the Year – Larry Hanson (Oberto) and Tom Anderson (Graham Trucking)
Owner of the Year – Ted Porter
Race Site of the Year – Tri City Water Follies
Sponsor of the Year – Oberto
Official of the Year – Brian Hajny
Vic Nelawake Volunteer Spirit Award – Kim Forsell
Outstanding Contribution – Ted Grange
Lifetime Achievement to Steve Montgomery
Inaugural Steve Montgomery Excellence in Media Award – David Goricki
High Points 3rd Place Driver & Team – Cal Phipps and Graham Trucking 7
High Points 2nd Place Driver & Team – J Michael Kelly and Graham Trucking 1
National Champion Driver – Jimmy Shane
Martini and Rossi National Champion – Oberto