Bert Henderson
Bert HendersonDriver

Bert Henderson got his first chance at driving an H1 Unlimited hydroplane in 2016, when he took the U-57 Spirit of Detroit out for a few exploratory laps during the Detroit event. He showed enough skill as a driver that owner Dave Bartush hired “Hot Foot” Henderson last year to drive his newly purchased hull, the U-7, also named the Spirit of Detroit. In 2017, he qualified as an H1 Unlimited driver and received his license at the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Hydrofest on the Detroit River.

Although Henderson ran just two races in the 2017 H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series he is still considered one of two rookies in 2018.

During last year’s President’s Cup and American Power Boat Association’s Gold Cup, Henderson qualified for both events with speeds in the 148 mph range, then took second place in four out of five preliminary heats and placed fourth in the President’s Cup’s winner-take-all final.

He crashed out of the Gold Cup final and was disqualified when H1 Unlimited officials ruled that he caused the collision with the U-12 Graham Trucking. Fortunately, Henderson was not injured, but the damage to the boat forced him and the Spirit of Detroit racing team to sit out the remainder of the season.

“Hot Foot” Henderson says he likes H1 Unlimited hydroplanes because they are “very BIG, very FAST, very STABLE (mostly), and BAD ASS.”

A naturally humble and first-class competitor, Henderson insists that he shakes the hand of his opponents before each race. For him, the handshake is an important way to consider his competitors and the sport at fair value.

Henderson also attaches great importance to his preparation before each heat of racing. He isolates himself from fans and crew and thinks of the strategies he will use while visualizing the race in his head several times from start-to-finish.

His goal throughout the season is to be a contender in every heat and make forward progress.

With a degree in business marketing from Sir Sanford Fleming College, the 46-year-old Henderson operates a successful race boat building and repair company, Henderson Hydroplanes. During the off-season, his company repaired the U-7 boat, making several upgrades in the process. His company also upgraded a second H1 Unlimited hydroplane, the U-2, which is also owned by the Spirit of Detroit race team.

When Henderson isn’t building and repairing boats he continues to compete in the 2.5 litre and Grand Prix hydroplane classes of racing, adding to his 22-years of racing experiences. Those experiences include two Canadian Boating Federation’s 2.5 Litre Hydroplane National Championships (1998, 2000), a one-mile world record of 112.786 mph average in a Grand Prix hydroplane, and three Hydroplane Racing League Grand Prix national championships (2012, 2015, 2017).

A resident of Brockville, Ontario, Canada, a city south of Ottawa that borders upstate New York, Henderson and his wife, Jennifer, have two children: daughter, Kaitlyn (16), and son Owen (14).

Career Highlights:
1996 Rookie of the Year
1998 CBF National Champion 2.5L stock
2000 CBF National Champion 2.5L stock
2001 CBF National Champion 5L
HRL National Champion in Grand Prix class: 2012, 2015, 2017
Grand Prix 1 mile world record: 112.786 mph 5 laps
5L Canadian Record holder 2010
2010 Triple Crown winner in 5L and Grand Prix
Winner of 5 of 8 Grand Prix races in HRL series 2017
5 time Valleyfield Winner in the Grand Prix class: 2010,2012,2014,2016,2017

Jeff Bernard
Jeff BernardDriver

A fourth-generation boat racer who first raced a powerboat when he was only 9 years old, Bernard has collected an impressive number of trophies in his racing career.

Bernard got his first ride in a H1 Unlimited hydroplane in 2005 when he was 20 years old, driving Fred Leland’s U-99 Miss Lakeridge Paving in Seattle. A year later, he joined the Precision Performance Engineering’s team driving the U-5 Formula Boats from 2006-2010.

Born in Allen Park, Michigan, and currently a resident of Kent, Washington, Bernard earned his first unlimited race victory at the 2008 Indiana Governor’s Cup in Madison, Indiana, driving the U-5 Formula Boats, then won the Bill Muncey Cup in San Diego later that season. His third career win came in 2009 at Evansville, Indiana. He also has collected a total of 27 preliminary heat victories during his H1Unlimited hydroplane career and finished second in the final national driver point standings three times.

In more recent years the 33 year-old raced the U-7 Graham Trucking in 2016, U-21 Fox Plumbing and Heating in 2014, and the U-17 Miss Red Dot in 2012.

He also has been the back-up driver and radio spotter for the Spirit of Qatar race team when Kip Brown was driving that boat in 2013 and served that role for the Miss Madison race team in 2015.

Bernard holds nine national championships in limited hydroplane racing, 11 regional championships, three Summer National titles, two world championships, three Western Divisional titles, one Eastern Divisional title, one North American championship, and holds several world speed records. He also has been inducted into the A.P.B.A. Hall of Champions three times.

Bernard is employed by the Boeing Company, is married to Christabelle, and has two children: Blakely (5) and Rilynn (1).

Dave Bartush
Dave BartushOwner

Prior to moving up to the Unlimiteds in 2005, Dave Bartush raced since 1997 in the very competitive 5 liter class. Along with a partner, raced the only 3 boat team on the APBA inboard circuit, and was co-owner of the 5 liter 1999 APBA National high points champion.

Became the first and only team in APBA history to win all 3 top spots in a National event, pulling off this feat at the 1999 North American Championship in front of a hometown crowd on the Detroit River.

Bartush Served 4 years in the US Air Force and Graduated from Loyola University, New Orleans with a BA with a Major in Accounting.

He is an avid history buff and long time collector of vintage race cars. He also maintains a large collection of unlimited hydroplanes for future Detroit development.

More information on the team can be found at www.detroitunlimited.com

CREW CHIEF: Bill Guckian

CREW:
Engines:
Dean Boike

Engineering:
Jamie Auld
Doug Peterson
Sam Stechishen

Gears & Props:
Tom Kelly
Len Bartush
Andrew “Goober” Werling
Chip Van Antwerp
Danny Doyle

Webmaster:
Lenny Bartush

West Coast Rep:
Jim Harvey

Consultant:
Ted Porter
Emily Porter

Home Port: Detroit, Michigan
Boat Colors: Red
Engine: Lycoming T55 L7C
2017 Boat Points: 1374
2017 Driver Points: 1374
2017 Season Finish: 6th