The fastest race boats on the planet will be in Tri-Cities next weekend
KENNEWICK, Wash. — Six of the world’s fastest race boats will compete for the HAPO Columbia Cup next weekend on the Columbia River at Tri-Cities, Washington. It will be the third stop of the 2022 H1 Unlimited Racing Series, which features hydroplanes that careen across the water at speeds reaching 200 mph.
Among the competitors will be the defending national champion Miss HomeStreet, which will be driven by Jimmy Shane, 36, of San Antonio, Texas. Shane is coming off a victory in the previous race at Madison, Indiana, and dominated the APBA Gold Cup at the start of the season before being disqualified in the event’s final heat.
Corey Peabody, the winner of last year’s race in the Tri-Cities and the winner of this year’s Gold Cup will not be in the field because his boat, the Lynx Healthcare, flipped during the final heat at Madison. Peabody was not injured in the accident, but his boat was severely damaged.
As a result of the accident, the other boat in the Strong Racing Team, which was racing as Miss Tri-Cities, will compete in the race as the U-9 Lynx Healthcare presents Miss Tri-Cities. Its driver will be J. Michael Kelly, 43, of Bonney Lake, Washington, who won the 2021 driver’s national championship and won two races last season.
Another boat returning from an accident in Madison will be Miss Beacon Plumbing, which is driven by Dave Villwock, 68, of Monroe, Washington. Villwock, with 67 career race wins and 10 national titles, is the greatest champion the sport has ever known.
During a test run in Madison earlier this month, the boat hit a log that caused enough damage to force it out of the race. The bottom of the boat has now been rebuilt and the team says it is ready to compete in the Tri-Cities.
Finishing second in both races so far has been Jeff Bernard, 37, of Kent, Washington, and his boat Miss Goodman Real Estate. That hydroplane has been among the most successful in the sport’s history with eight national titles and 25 race victories, including seven on the Tri-Cities course.
The third-place finisher in both H1 Unlimited Racing Series events so far has been Jamie Nilsen, 37, of Gig Harbor, Washington. His boat, which operates out of Cle Elum, Washington, raced earlier this season as Miss Colleen and will compete at Tri-Cities as Miss Joker’s Casino.
A fan favorite in the race will be Griggs presents Miss Ace Hardware, which will be the only hydro in the field that is powered by a V-12 Allison engine, a powerplant built for World War II fighter planes and an engine commonly used by the boats from the late-1940s until the mid-1980s. The boat will be driven by Jimmy King, 61, of Memphis, Michigan.
The “Greatest Show on H-2-O” will begin with testing on the Columbia River on Friday, July 29. Preliminary-heat competition will get underway on Saturday and will continue on Sunday, then the event will conclude with a winner-take-all final on Sunday afternoon. Tickets to the race are available at waterfollies.com.
Nothing compares to the unique visual beauty of watching the spectacular H1 Unlimited hydroplanes race in person. But for those who can’t attend, the next best thing is to watch the event’s live streaming broadcast, which boat racing fans around the world can catch on the H1 Unlimited YouTube Channel. You can find a link at H1Unlimited.com.