DETROIT— As the eight boat teams with H1 Unlimited Hydroplane prepare for this weekend’s Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Hydrofest (August 25-27), they must be thinking about more than just going fast. The teams need to figure out how to handle the cantankerous Detroit in two separate races.
The weekend has been restructured this year to include a new two races in two days’ format. On Saturday, the H1 boats will run for the President’s Cup. Then on Sunday, the H1 teams will race for the most prestigious trophy in all of boat racing—the APBA Gold Cup. This format has not been seen in the modern era of the sport.
“The Detroit River course not only gives spectators a close-up view of the action, but it is also one of the toughest on the circuit for the teams,” said Mark Weber, a former unlimited hydroplane driver, president of Detroit Riverfront Events Inc. and Race Chairman of the Detroit Chevy Dealers Hydrofest. “Not only does it have the Roostertail turn which is the tightest in all unlimited racing, the southwest end of the course, alongside the MacArthur Bridge (more commonly known as the Belle Isle Bridge), features the biggest turn on the H1 Unlimited circuit.
“Fortunately, these drivers are in good physical shape because the two races will take its toll on the body and, of course, on the boat.”
While the Gold Cup is among the most active prestigious of motorsport trophies, the unlimited hydroplanes will run for the President’s Cup for the first time since 1977. The President’s Cup was contested by Unlimited Hydroplane teams between 1926 and 1977, with time out for World War II (1941-1945). After 1977, the President’s Cup became an APBA Inboard event for several years.
The APBA Gold Cup is the Super Bowl for H1 Unlimited Hydroplanes. It is the oldest active trophy in all of the motorsports and was first awarded in 1904. In comparison, the first Indianapolis 500 race was held in 1911, and its Borg-Warner trophy was first presented in 1936.
J. Michael Kelly, in the U-12 Graham Trucking, is the defending Gold Cup champion, winning his first title one year ago, in August 2016 in the 100th running of an Unlimited race on the Detroit River. Kelly added one H1 championship to his credit this year, winning the HAPO Columbia Cup in Tri-Cities, Wash. in late July.
Jimmy Shane, the driver of the U-1 Miss HomeStreet, is the defending National High Point champion and is looking for his second consecutive win of 2017. Shane won the Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seattle (Wash.) Seafair on August 6th. Shane is the current H1 National High Point leader.
Andrew Tate, the driver of the U-9 Les Schwab Tires, is looking for his first high point championship of 2017, Tate, the 2016 H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Rookie of the Year, won the Mainsource Bank Indiana Governor’s Cup, a four-boat shootout in Madison, Ind. on July 2nd.
Qualifying and testing will take place on Friday, August 25. For ticket, event schedule and more information go to http://detroitboatraces.com/. The HRL Grand Prix and H-350 Hydroplanes will also be part of the 2017 Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers HydroFest.