TRI-CITIES, Wash. — When the Tri-City Water Follies celebrate “50 Years of Racing”, 12 H1 Unlimited Hydroplane drivers might be thinking about the history of the sport on the Columbia River, but their first thoughts will be winning the gold—the HAPO APBA Gold Cup to be exact.
The action starts Friday, July 24th with testing and qualifying. Racing will take place on Saturday, July 25 with more heat racing and the championship final on Sunday, July 26.
“When we had the opportunity to change venues for the APBA Gold Cup, all the race sites on our circuit agreed unanimously that the 50th anniversary of the Tri-City Race on the Columbia River was the perfect choice for the biggest of all boat races,” said H1 Unlimited Chairman Steve David. “The Gold Cup is the oldest active trophy in motorsports, and to have it in Tri-Cities on the 50th anniversary of its unlimited history is exciting for the fans and all of us in the sport.”
The Gold Cup race, first contested in 1904, was America’s answer to the highly touted International Harmsworth Trophy. Since ’04, the Gold Cup has been run each year except during World War II and when weather conditions forced a cancellation. This weekend’s race is the 106th running of the Gold Cup and the fifth time Tri-Cities has hosted this prestigious race. It will also be the first time the APBA Gold Cup has been raced outside of the City of Detroit since 1989.
With the last Friday’s addition of the only piston powered Allison powered, the U-3 Griggs presents Miss Ace Hardware piloted by Jimmy King, 12 drivers, 11 racing turbine powered hydroplanes, will compete for the title.
Of the dozen drivers looking to win the most prestigious trophy in boat racing, only two current drivers have ever won the Gold Cup.
Jean Theoret won the 2006 race for Billy & Jane Schumacher and he returns to the H1 series full-time this year in the U-96 Elam Plus. The new U-96 hull, christened last year at this race, is one of the front runners for this year’s Gold Cup.
Jimmy Shane drove the Oberto/Miss Madison to victory last year in the APBA Gold Cup in Detroit. The victory gave the City of Madison community-owned boat its first win since 1971 in boat racing’s marquee event.
Shane’s job was made easier when his main competitor J. Michael Kelly in the Graham Trucking was assessed a one-lap penalty prior to the start of the championship heat.
Not only is Shane the defending APBA Gold Cup champion, but Shane and the Oberto team also scored its only other victory at last year’s HAPO Columbia Cup in Tri-Cities.
This weekend’s APBA Gold Cup race will be the first national high point race of the 2015 season. High Ohio River water levels forced H1 to put on a non-high point shootout event in Madison, Ind. on July 5th. In the shootout, Kelly edged Shane in the final heat setting the up Shane and Kelly as the two favorites for the 2015 Gold Cup.
Besides the 12 H1 Unlimited Hydroplanes, the Grand Prix West automotive powered boats, the APBA One-Litre class and Vintage Unlimited Hydroplanes will take to the Columbia River. The high-speed action on the water will also be complimented by the Tri-City Water Follies Air Shows.
For ticket and more information on this week’s HAPO Gold Cup go to http://www.waterfollies.com/