Jimmy Shane retired at the conclusion of the 2022 season winning his seventh National Championship. Finishing his career with twenty-five victories, what is your favorite Jimmy Shane memory and what do you think his legacy will be in the sport?
Craig Fjarlie (Unlimited News Journal Writer & H1 Unlimited Volunteer)
Thinking back on the career of Jimmy Shane, there are many things that come to mind. One that stands out for me is from the 2021 season. There were only four races, and the Madison team decided to run their older boat at the first two events, Guntersville and Madison. Goodman Real Estate was the sponsor, and Jeff Bernard drove at the first race. He jumped the gun in the final heat. Shane was back in the cockpit at Madison for the Gold Cup. He won, taking first place in every heat. The boat handled the rough Ohio River water well, and as Shane put it, “We had the only boat that got through the entire race without any damage.” The Madison team ran the new hull at Tri-Cities and San Diego, and Miss HomeStreet was clearly the fastest boat. They claimed the National Championship, but because Shane had allowed Bernard to take the cockpit at Guntersville, the driving championship went to J. Michael Kelly. In hindsight, Shane put the interests of the team ahead of himself, and it demonstrated his character in a most positive light.
Brad Luce (H1 Unlimited PA Announcer)
My favorite Jimmy Shane memory occurred in 2012 when Jimmy had his first full time “ride” driving for Ted Porter and Graham Trucking. The race was the APBA Gold Cup on the Detroit River. Jimmy had driven for Ted Porter before, but this was his first full-season driving assignment, and his first APBA Gold Cup. I was anxious to get to know Jimmy and watch him handle the Detroit River. My broadcast partner that day, Jeff Ayler, was much better acquainted with Jimmy than I, and assured me I would come to really like this youngster, adding also that he was a very talented driver. Jimmy qualified third fastest that weekend, trailing only the two favorites, Dave Villwock and Steve David. When race day came, Jimmy claimed a heat victory in his first heat of Gold Cup competition. It was impressive. But he wasn’t done. He claimed his second heat victory the next time out, and made it three in a row later in the weekend. I interviewed Jimmy following each triumph, and couldn’t help but be impressed. He was so articulate, and seemingly took everything in stride. He handled himself like the seasoned veteran, and I knew I was looking at a future legend in our sport. Jimmy didn’t win that 2012 APBA Gold Cup, but it was clear his time was coming. Two weeks later in Tri-Cities Washington, Jimmy Shane claimed his first H1 Unlimited victory in the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup. He was on his way.
As for Jimmy’s legacy, his racing accomplishments are well documented. In various categories, he finds himself tied with Bill Muncey, Chip Hanauer, Dean Chenoweth, and Gar Wood. That is unlimited hydroplane racing royalty at the highest level. But there is so much more to this man. Jimmy was raised in a tight knit family, and grew up around boat racing. His dad, mom, and sister were all successful behind the wheel of various race boats. If you were fortunate to know Jimmy personally, you also came to know his family. They were always close by, and supportive of his efforts. Family was very important to Jimmy Shane. So much so, he walked away from H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing at the top of his game in order to spend more time with his own family and children. Truly one of the great personalities to ever participate in our sport: Jimmy Shane.
Andy Muntz (Unlimited News Journal Editor & H1 Unlimited Board Member)
Among the 25 times that Jimmy Shane stood in the winner’s circle, the one that I recall the most was his win in Seattle in 2017 when he battled side by side with Andrew Tate in the final heat. Tate had managed to pass him just before crossing the finish line, but Shane ended up winning because Tate had demolished a buoy before the start.
I think Shane will go down in history as one of the sport’s best drivers. His victory total puts him among the greatest to ever drive an Unlimited hydroplane, but what’s most impressive to me is that he also was able to accomplish that record in a relatively short time. He retired from the sport while he was still only in his mid-30s! Most Unlimited drivers are just getting going at that age. That’s pretty remarkable. Just imagine the kind of record Jimmy Shane would have accomplished if he had a career as long as the other top names in boat racing.
David Newton (Publisher of Roostertail Talk Podcast)
Jimmy Shane shocked the H1 fanbase at the end of the 2022 racing season by announcing his retirement from the sport. Tied for fourth with Dean Chenoweth for H1 Unlimited career wins with 25 victories and 7 National Championships he undoubtedly is leaving behind a legacy that may not be matched in our current H1 Unlimited era. The most impressive stat from his list of victories, championships and records is that he did so without flipping or crashing an Unlimited. He was a master of floating a hydroplane.
My favorite memory of Jimmy Shane however took place off the racecourse. Jimmy was an ambassador of the sport in many ways. He took his lessons from those before him, like Bill Muncey and Steve David, to treat each fan of the sport with kindness and respect. Each time I saw Jimmy in the pits outside of his camp he always gave time to fans for photos, autographs and to answer questions. He did the same for my family a few years ago when my son was only a few years old. Jimmy took the time to talk with him about the “blue boat”, pose for a photo op and help him to sit in the cockpit. He always found time for fans. Jimmy will always be remembered as a fan favorite.