GUNTERSVILLE, ALABAMA (June 28, 2019)—After an hour delay due to severe weather that brought nearly an inch of rain and winds guts clocked at over 40 m.p.h., only three of the six H1 Unlimited hydroplanes were able to qualify for this weekend’s Guntersville Lake Hydrofest before race officials postponed the remaining qualifying for Saturday morning.
J. Michael Kelly in the U-12 “Graham Trucking” topped today’s leader board with a top speed of 154.506 m.p.h. on what is dubbed the “fastest water in the South.”
Kelly said, “It (boat) feels good. We have a fast boat and we need to keep doing what we are doing to maintain top qualifier tomorrow.”
Kelly whose team did not attend last year’s race in Guntersville said he is pleased with the team’s result having no data from last year’s race to fall back on.
“It’s nice to be on top but we will be looking to increase out speed in tomorrow’s qualifying,” Kelly said.
Another team that did not attend last year’s race, Bert Henderson, driving the U-7 “Spirit of Detroit”, followed Kelly. Henderson turned a qualifying speed of 149.385 m.p.h. In the first H1 Unlimited hydroplane he has attended drove of Detroit.
Dustin Echols in the U-440 “Bucket List Racing” managed to qualify at 145.723 m.p.h., the fastest his boat has ever qualified.
Echols said, “ I am impressed with our speeds but I am more impresses at the consistence of all three qualifying laps we made on the 2-1/2 mile aqua oval.” He continued, “I got more in the boat for tomorrow.”
There was one other boat, U-98 “Graham Trucking American Dream” with Corey Peabody driving who attempted to qualify but lost power on the race and had to be towed in.
Peabody’s crew chief, Brooke Tyler, said, “the problem is definitely inside (power-train) and most likely the gear box but until we get a look at it we haven’t found the smoking gun.”
The remaining three H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series teams will have a chance to qualifying Saturday morning and today’s qualifiers will have chance up increase their speeds as well.
If the remaining hydroplanes qualify in the morning, race official say they will have four-hydroplane preliminary heats that lead up to Sunday’s six-hydroplane Southern Cup championship race.
H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series Qualifying
1) U-12 “Graham Trucking,” J. Michael Kelly, 154.506 m.p.h.
2) U-7 “Spirit of Detroit,” Bert Henderson, 149.385 m.p.h.
3) U-440 “Bucket List Racing,” Dustin Echols, 145.723 m.p.h.