DougBernsteinI would like to thank everyone who participated in the H1 Unlimited Annual Meeting and Gala, which was held January 13 and 14 at the beautiful Seattle Marriott Waterfront, which proved to be a great venue.

Although I have attended several prior H1 Unlimited meetings and banquets, this was the first while serving as Chairman. We had the privilege of having most of our team owners attend and participate, together with representatives from our current race sites in Madison, Tri-Cities, Seattle and Detroit, and from our future sites in Phoenix and Guntersville, Alabama. Drivers Jimmy Shane, Kevin Eacret and Andrew Tate also provided their perspectives, as did several crew members.

We had a terrific presentation from Tena Hanson and Larry Oberto, who outlined the results of a recent survey which we commissioned to give us an idea of how H1 Unlimited is perceived, what we do well, and what we need to do to improve. It was clear that we need to listen to what people are saying, to allow our sport to continue to develop and evolve, rather than ignoring possible new ways of doing things.

The Gala was a wonderful opportunity to honor the successes of our various teams in 2016, including the Home Street Bank/Miss Madison team winning the High Points Championship, Jimmy Shane again taking the Drivers’ Championship, J. Michael Kelly’s breakthrough win at the APBA Gold Cup, and Rookie of the Year Andrew Tate’s victory at the Albert Lee Appliance Cup in Seattle. We also acknowledged the many contributions of those we lost in 2016, including Bill Wurster, Sven Ellstrom, Niles Mayfield, Fred Farley and Kirk Pagel. All those who attended need to give thanks to Shannon, Emily and Ashley Raney, Lisa Courneya, Walt Ottenad,  and the world’s greatest hydroplane racing banquet emcee, Brad Luce, for making Saturday a great celebration of our sport.

Reflecting on the weekend, it is clear we have work to do. With the help of our outstanding fans, team owners, sponsors, crews, race sites and officials, we will strive to improve our product and our performance. The H1 Board of Directors has vowed to be more accountable to its stakeholders, and to keep them better informed of what we’re working on. We are still tinkering with the 2017 schedule, and hope to release it in the near future. Whether the Annual Meeting was a success will be determined by what happens over the course of the next weeks and months, when we see if H1 Unlimited actually followed through on what was discussed.

Finally, I need to acknowledge and thank the late Gary Garbrecht, Sam Cole and Steve David for allowing me to be involved in the sport at a higher level, and the H1 Board of Directors in having the confidence in me to serve as its Chairman. Best wishes and thanks to all; we’ll be in touch!