It’s Gold Cup week and the H1 Unlimited Series heads into the season’s final race in Seattle, Washington. Among the active drivers three have previously won the sport’s most prestigious trophy, J. Michael Kelly, Andrew Tate, and Corey Peabody. When the final heat concludes on Sunday, will one of these drivers win their second APBA Gold Cup or will another driver add their name to the nation’s oldest motorsports trophy?
Craig Fjarlie (Unlimited News Journal Writer & H1 Unlimited Volunteer)
Attempting to predict the winner of the APBA Gold Cup can be a challenging assignment. The allure of the oldest active trophy in motorsports makes it a prize that has often produced an unexpected champion. The course on Lake Washington is frequently rough, which means a driver who throws caution to the wind is likely to be disappointed when the race is over.
I’m reluctant to choose whether J. Michael Kelly, Andrew Tate, or Corey Peabody will emerge the winner. On paper, at least, Peabody has the fastest boat, and he is a charger. Kelly and Tate, however, have kept pressure on Peabody. Jamie Nilsen, driver of Legend Yacht Transport, is having the best season of his career and is looking for his first race win. Dustin Echols, driver of Flav-R-Pac, set a record at the first race in Guntersville, and picked up second place at Tri-Cities when he avoided jumping the gun in the final heat. I refuse to discount Dylan Runne, the new driver of Miss HomeStreet. Just maybe, it will be his turn to win. Whatever happens, the competition will be intense and there will be plenty of action on the Gold Cup racecourse.
Jeff Morrow (Former Sports Editor of the Tri-City Herald)
Judging off of last week’s race in the Tri-Cities, Corey Peabody seems to have things clicking. He had a perfect weekend on the Columbia River (fastest qualifier, won three preliminary heats, and won the final). He was never threatened, really. But whatever the Madison team put into Andrew Tate’s boat on Sunday was incredible. It looked like a completely different boat on the water. And Tate has won twice in Seattle.
Here’s the deal, though: J. Michael Kelly has won in Seattle four times now (the last two by virtue of a penalty). Even those wins via penalty, though, Kelly was near the front. Last weekend he told me that in order to win a national championship, now’s the time to be avoiding penalties. I liken Lake Washington to a big ol’ bathtub. There’s no water flow like there was on the Columbia River last week, and this will make for a different racecourse.
Kelly has a fast boat. He knows how to win in Seattle. He’s a veteran driver, and he still leads the national high points race.I’m liking J. Michael Kelly for the Gold Cup win and taking the national title.
Andy Muntz (Unlimited News Journal Editor & H1 Unlimited Board Member)
I’d say the odds are good that there will be a repeat winner of the APBA Gold Cup on Sunday afternoon, but it’s definitely not certain.
Except for falling into a hole in the first turn at Madison, Corey Peabody has had an excellent season so far; winning every heat he has finished. J. Michael Kelly has also consistently and quietly been right in the thick of things, which shows in his first-place position in the national point standings going into Seattle. And, Andrew Tate has the experience and a competitive boat that means he will always be a factor. All three of them could easily win.
But, maybe this will be a year where the Gold Cup winner is a surprise—like Miss Al Deeby Dodge winning in 2005, Miss Foxhills Chrysler-Jeep in 2003, or Tubby’s Grilled Submarines in 2001? Wouldn’t it be fun if Dustin Echols was holding that trophy when the day was over? He and his team certainly deserve it after the misfortunes they’ve had last year and this year, and it would be a great welcome to the sport for their new sponsor, Flav-R-Pac.
Or, how about Jamie Nilsen? He and his team have been surprising us all season. As he showed in winning his preliminary heat last Saturday, all it might take is an excellent start, which is something he has demonstrated time after time. And, maybe it’s time for Dylan Runne to show the fans why he was selected to drive the defending national champion? His team’s sponsor would certainly appreciate that after the continued support they have given this sport and the Madison Race Team for nearly a decade.
When it’s over, though, I predict that the big winners will be the Seattle race fans, who will see a Gold Cup where the winner won’t be determined until the final lap, of the final heat, of the final race of this short but competitive 2023 season.
David Newton (Publisher of Roostertail Talk Podcast)
The Gold Cup returns to Seattle this weekend for the first time in 38 years! Fans want to know which driver will claim the Gold Cup trophy at the end of race day this Sunday.
The odds on favorite has to be Corey Peabody in the U-9 Beacon Plumbing. The U-9 team comes off a perfect Columbia Cup race, getting top qualifier and winning every heat. Corey was able to do this impressively as he won every heat in an outer lane, showing off impressive speed.
It would be easy to choose Corey as this year’s Gold Cup Champion, but there will be someone else crowned this weekend. We can talk about speed all day long, but we can’t forget the great equalizer in Seattle, rough water. Seattle is notorious for having some of the roughest water on the circuit with the parallel rollers that bounce off the log boom. One boat that has always done well in Seattle is the older hull in the Madison fleet, the Goodman Real Estate. This hull, which was built in 2007, has won in Seattle an impressive 5 times. Veteran driver Andrew Tate (who has 2 victories on Lake Washington) is going to shake off his mistake from last weekend and will make a perfect start to outlast the water conditions and competition to get his 2nd Gold Cup victory!