The 2022 H1 Unlimited Racing Series starts next weekend with the Gold Cup in Alabama

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — The fastest race boats in the world will put on a spectacular show when the 2022 H1 Unlimited Racing Series gets underway next weekend in Guntersville, Alabama. The season, which is expected to be one of the most competitive in recent years, will begin with the 112th running of the APBA Gold Cup, the oldest trophy in American motorsports.

Seven hydroplanes will compete in the Gold Cup on June 25 and 26 on Lake Guntersville, one of the fastest racecourses on the circuit. The boats and their talented drivers will careen across the water at speeds reaching 200 miles per hour. Races also will be held this year in Madison, Indiana; the Tri-Cities, Washington; Seattle; and San Diego.

Among the competitors will be two boats that combined to win the 2021 national championship for the Miss Madison Racing Team out of Madison, Indiana. Jimmy Shane, 36, of Covington, Washington, is the defending Gold Cup champion and will drive the U-1 Miss HomeStreet. Shane has won 20 races during his career and his victory last year in the Gold Cup was his fifth, which tied him with the legendary Gar Wood.

The other entry from the Madison team is the U-91 Goodman Real Estate, which will be driven by Jeff Bernard, 37, of Kent, Washington. His boat has been among the most successful in the sport’s history with eight national titles and four Gold Cups to its credit.

Another organization with two boats in the event will be the Strong Racing Team, which is owned by Vanessa and Darrell Strong of the Tri-Cities, Washington. Last year, in their first season as boat owners, the Strongs won three of the season’s four races.

The winner of two of those races, including last year’s Guntersville race, and the defending driver’s national champion is J. Michael Kelly, 43, of Bonney Lake, Washington. Kelly will be in the cockpit of the U-8 Miss Tri-Cities. His teammate is Corey Peabody, 43, of Kent, Washington, who won his first H1 Unlimited race last year with his victory in the Tri-Cities. He will be driving the U-9 Lynx Healthcare.

Another headliner in the race will be Dave Villwock, 68, of Monroe, Washington, the driver of the U-40 Miss Beacon Plumbing. Villwock is the sport’s all-time greatest champion with 67 career victories and 10 national titles. He has also won 10 Gold Cups, which puts him only one victory short of the sport’s all-time Gold Cup champion, Chip Hanauer. The Miss Beacon Plumbing is owned by Sharon and Kelly Stocklin of Edmonds, Washington.

A fan favorite will be the U-3 Griggs presents Miss Ace Hardware, which operates out of Evansville, Indiana, and will be driven by Jimmy King, 61, of Memphis, Michigan. It is the only boat that will use a V-12 Allison engine, a powerplant built for World War II fighter planes that hydroplanes commonly used from the late-1940s until the mid-1980s. The other boats in the race will use Lycoming T-55 gas turbine engines.

Another entry will come from the Unlimited Racing Group of Cle Elum, Washington. The U-11 will be driven by Jamie Nilsen, 37, of Gig Harbor, Washington.

The APBA Gold Cup was organized by the American Power Boat Association in 1904 and was first held on the Hudson River in New York City. The winner of that first Gold Cup was a boat named Standard, which averaged just over 23 miles per hour. Today’s boats are about 30 feet long, weigh more than three tons, and will skim across the surface of Guntersville Lake at lap speeds averaging about 150 miles per hour.

The “Greatest Show on H-2-O” will begin with testing on Lake Guntersville at 8 a.m. CDT on Saturday morning, June 25. Preliminary-heat competition will get underway at 11:30 a.m. CDT later that day. Additional preliminary heats are scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. CDT on Sunday, June 26, with the winner-take-all final heat scheduled for 5 p.m. CDT.

Tickets to the Gold Cup in Guntersville are available at www.guntersvillelakehydrofest.com.

For those who can’t attend, the race also will be streamed live on the H1 Unlimited YouTube Channel. You can find the link on this website.