The fastest race boats in the world will put on a spectacular show when the 2022 H1 Unlimited Racing Series gets underway next weekend in Guntersville, Alabama.
The season, which is expected to be one of the most competitive in recent years, will begin with the 112th running of the APBA Gold Cup, the oldest trophy in American motorsports. Seven hydroplanes will compete in the Gold Cup on June 25 – 26 on Lake Guntersville, one of the fastest racecourses on the circuit.
Philip Mosley, chairman for the 2022 Guntersville Lake HydroFest Planning Committee said,
Our race for 2022 will celebrate several decades of hydroplanes and the impact our water has had on the sport of boat racing. With three racing classes as well as the appearance of a few vintage craft, this event will be one of our best. Our race weekend will also celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Roy Duby setting the World Speed Record of 200.419 MPH at Lake Guntersville.
Among the competitors will be two boats that combined to win the 2021 national championship for the Miss Madison Racing Team. Jimmy Shane is the defending Gold Cup champion and will drive the U-1 Miss HomeStreet. Shane has won twenty races during his career and his victory last year in the Gold Cup was his fifth, which tied him with the legendary Gar Wood.
The other entry from the Madison team is the U-91 Goodman Real Estate, which will be driven by Jeff Bernard. His boat has been among the most successful in the sport’s history with eight national titles and four Gold Cups to its credit.
Another with two boats in the event will be the Strong Racing Team, which is owned by Vanessa and Darrell Strong of the Tri-Cities, Washington. Last year, in their first season as boat owners, they won three of the season’s four races.
The winner of two of those races, including last year’s Guntersville race, and the defending driver’s national champion is J. Michael Kelly who will be in the cockpit of the U-8 Miss Tri-Cities. His teammate is Corey Peabody who won his first H1 Unlimited race last year with his victory in the Tri-Cities. He will be driving the U-9 Lynx Healthcare.
Another headliner in the race will be Dave Villwock the driver of the U-40 Miss Beacon Plumbing. Villwock is the sport’s all-time greatest champion with sixty-seven career victories and ten National titles. He has also won ten Gold Cups, which puts him only one victory short of the sport’s all-time Gold Cup champion, Chip Hanauer.
A fan favourite will be the U-3 Griggs presents Miss Ace Hardware driven by Jimmy King. It is the only boat that will use a V-12 Allison engine, a powerplant built for World War II fighter planes that hydroplanes commonly used from the late-1940s until the mid-1980s. The other boats in the race will use Lycoming T-55 gas turbine engines.
Another entry will come from the Unlimited Racing Group who’s Jamie Nilsen will drive the U-11.
The APBA Gold Cup was organized by the American Power Boat Association in 1904 and was first held on the Hudson River in New York City. The winner of that first Gold Cup was a boat named Standard, which averaged just over twenty-three miles per hour. Today’s boats are about thirty feet long, weigh more than three tons, and will skim across the surface of Guntersville Lake at lap speeds averaging about 150 miles per hour.
H1 races also will be held this year in Madison, Indiana; the Tri-Cities, Washington; Seattle; and San Diego. For those who can’t attend they will be streamed live on the H1 Unlimited YouTube channel.
Images by Digital Roostertails and Steve Conner