Aaron Salmon is one of two rookie drivers in the 2018 H1 Unlimited hydroplane season. The 26-year-old resides in Bonney Lake, Washington, is known sometimes as “Fish,” and has raced every class of outboard hydroplane, honing his driving skills along the way. His hydroplane racing involvement reads like a novel any aspiring race fan could dream.
A first-generation boat racer, Salmon began his career in the J-Stock outboard hydroplane class at the age of 15. With the help of his mom and dad, he built his first boat through the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum’s Junior Hydro Program, which allows kids from 9 to 16 years old an affordable way to enter hydroplane racing. The kids learn wooden boat building skills and rigging while building their own J-Hydro at the museum’s facilities in Kent, Washington. After the families complete the building of the outboard hydro, the kids race on lakes around the United States.
That’s where Salmon caught the hydroplane bug. By the end of his first season driving outboard hydroplanes, he was racing in five different outboard hydroplane classes.
Salmon continued racing and when while attending Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, Washington, he built a larger C-Stock Hydroplane as his senior project. It was during his high school years he began volunteering on the U-11 Unlimited Racing Group’s H1 Unlimited hydroplane. After a few years volunteering, the team hired Salmon full-time, applying the craftsmanship he learned on his smaller outboard hydroplanes to the larger, more powerful H1 Unlimited hydroplane.
During his five years with the team, Salmon was fortunate to travel with the Unlimited Racing Group team to race in Doha, Qatar, and an exhibition in Coniston, England. During the Coniston Power Boat Records Week in 2011, which had brought together all classes of boat racing from all over the world since its inception in 1970, he raced his outboard hydro that he brought along.
In 2014, Salmon stepped up to the more powerful and larger inboard hydroplane class running a 5-litre. He has also raced the 1-litre inboard hydroplanes, in which he won first place in the 2017 San Diego Bayfair event while capturing third place in the 1-litre class national championship.
The newest chapter in his colorful story has been a dream come true for Salmon. In the 2017 offseason, he was contacted by Stacy Briseno who operates the U-99.9 Leland Racing Team to see if he would be interested in driving for the team. Without hesitation, Salmon agreed to drive in the 2018 season.
Salmon is now the team’s 16th rookie driver since 1978. Like the early days at the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum building his first boat, both his mom and dad are on the crew of the U-99.9 Miss ROCK presents Carstars.
When not at the Kirkland, Washington, boat shop, Salmon is employed in the engine department at Blue Origin, where he works on turbo machinery, the same company where the current H1 Unlimited driver’s champion, Jimmy Shane, is employed.
Salmon, who is single, says he enjoys the competition in racing, but also says his favorite things are the family, friends, and experiences made along the way.