Jimmy Shane has already earned a notable place in the 115-year history of the sport. Though relatively young at 33 years old and with 11 years of driving in the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series, he has already become only the second driver in history to win five consecutive national driving championships. With 17 race victories to his credit, he also stands as the most successful active driver in the series.
Born in Havre de Grace, Maryland, and now a resident of Maple Valley, Washington, and Shane is another competitor who grew up in a boat racing family. His parents, Stuart and Robin, as well as his sister Kelly, have all been national champions in various American Power Boat Association’s inboard hydroplane divisions. With strong influences from his family and boat builder Bill Roberts, Shane started driving boats at 10 years old and steadily moved up through outboard and inboard classes.
His first ride in an H1 Unlimited hydroplane came when he was 21 years old and was given the opportunity to test a boat in 2006. His debut on a racecourse came the following year when he became the backup driver for Ted Porter’s Precision Performance Race Team, where he saw action in the U-1/U-7 Formula Boats for two seasons. He didn’t see any unlimited action for a year but rejoined Porter’s team in 2010, and in 2012 became an instant front-runner in the U-7 Graham Trucking. Just three races into that season, he scored an impressive win in the Lamb-Weston Columbia Cup in Tri-Cities.
After strong finishes at the Albert Lee Cup in Seattle and the Bill Muncey Cup on San Diego’s Mission Bay, Shane then won a closely contested final heat to become the champion of the 2012 Oryx Cup U.I.M. World Championship in Doha, Qatar. That win secured an impressive second place in the 2012 driver and team series high-point standings.
Just one month later, Shane again found himself holding the Oryx Cup and U.I.M. World Championship trophies, this time after returning to Doha and winning the 2013 season opener. He then went on to finish the season strong with wins in Seattle, Coeur d’Alene, and San Diego, and edged Steve David and his U-1 Oberto for the driver and team national high points titles.
He joined the Miss Madison Race Team in 2014, where he became the latest in a long line of drivers for the only community-owned boat in the sport. He won just two races that season, but earned enough points along the way to win the national championship for his team and claim his second straight driving title. Among those two victories was the APBA Gold Cup in Detroit, which was only the second Gold Cup win in the 53-year history of his new race team.
Shane says his favorite thing is the spectacle of a 7,000-pound boat turning a sharp corner at 200 mph, and he has certainly seen a great deal of that during the last several years. He won another prestigious Gold Cup and another national championship in 2015, the final year that the team raced with the Oberto partnership. He then added three more race victories to the tally and another national championship in 2016 with the boat racing under the banner of Miss HomeStreet, then won a third Gold Cup as well as a victory in Seattle last year to capture his fifth consecutive national title.
When he is not driving hydroplanes, Shane is employed as an integration engineer with Blue Origin, the company that builds rockets and spaceships for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. His favorite activities are playing golf and being with his family: his wife, Bianca, and children, Colton and Hudson.