The tiny town of Madison, Indiana is known for its vast historic district – the largest in the country – as well as its quaint shops and its beautiful views of the Ohio River. But on the first weekend of July the city comes alive with the sites and sounds of H1 Unlimited hydroplanes racing on the river.
The race boat series swings into Madison this weekend for the 68th running of the Indiana Governor’s Cup at the Midwest Tube Mills Madison Regatta.
Madison, located roughly halfway between Louisville and Cincinnati in southeastern Indiana, has deep roots in the sport, putting on its first boat race in 1911. Since 1951, the city has hosted the Indiana Governor’s Cup race with H1 hydroplanes making their debut at the site in 1954.
The clear local favorite will be Jimmy Shane (Maple Valley, Wash.) and the U-1 Miss HomeStreet, which is owned by the citizens of Madison, Indiana. The only community-owned team on the circuit, the Miss Madison Race Team has campaigned a boat every year since 1961.
With 16 career wins, Shane is already one of the best drivers in the sport’s history and sits tied for eighth on the all-time list. He has won the past five National High Points championships and the Madison race twice, in 2015 and 2016.
Andrew Tate (Walled Lake, Mich.) driving the U-9 Auxier Marketing presents Delta Realtrac is the defending champion of the Madison Regatta, winning the non-points race a year ago. In just 11 starts on the H1 Unlimited tour, Tate already has four wins and has quickly established himself as one of the rising stars in the sport.
Tate drove the Lori and Mike Jones-owned U-9 Delta/Realtrac to victory in the season opener at Guntersville, Alabama two weeks ago by four-tenths of a second over Shane and the U-1 Miss HomeStreet in one of the most exciting finishes in recent years.
Another close duel between the two drivers is expected this weekend.
“I’m not trying to think about it too much. If I drive my race the points will come and we will make the final,” Tate said.
Thanks to a perfect weekend in Guntersville, Tate holds the lead in the National High Points standings with 1,700 points. Shane is currently third in the standings, 520 points back, with 1,180.
“We came out with a perfect weekend in Guntersville, the most that could be earned. We plan on continuing that consistency and repeat our success we had here last year at the Regatta, “ said Tate.
Sitting in between Tate and Shane in the standings is Tom Thompson (Cambridge, MD) and the U-11 Reliable Diamond Tool presents J&D’s, which had a strong opener in Guntersville with three second-place finishes in preliminary heats and a third in the final. Thompson has 1,195 points, 505 behind Tate and 15 ahead of Shane.
“We come to Madison hoping to improve our performance and maintain our points status. The Madison Regatta fans deserve a great boat race, and we intend to be a major part of that,” said Thompson.
Madison marks the second stop on the 2018 H1 Unlimited tour. Two other teams are expected to compete in Madison.
Dustin Echols (Sultan, Wash.) and the U-440 Bucket List Racing posted the fastest qualifying speed in the team’s history at Guntersville at 140.265 mph, but blew a propeller blade off during preliminary Heat 1A and had to withdraw due to damage to the boat.
Rookie Aaron Salmon (Bonney Lake, Wash.) was well on his way to completing his rookie qualifications at Guntersville aboard the U-99.9 CARSTAR presents Miss Rock but electrical issues forced the team to withdraw without competing in a preliminary heat. Salmon needs just six more laps, two at over 130 mph, to qualify for the circuit.
Qualifying for the 2018 Midwest Tube Mills Indiana Governor’s Cup will be Saturday from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. (EST) and will feature an added incentive for drivers and teams. Midwest Tube Mills CEO Rick Russell has offered a $5,000 cash prize out of his own pocket for any driver that beats the existing course record of 148.692 mph on the 2-mile Ohio River course.
“I love competition and I wanted to give an added bonus to the drivers on the H1 Unlimited series,” Russell said. “Hopefully this will provide an added incentive and create more excitement for the fans.”
It always adds a little excitement when there is some money at stake,” said Shane, who narrowly missed the record four years ago. “We certainly give it our best and this year will be no different. Madison is the hometown for the Miss HomeStreet so breaking this record would be very rewarding.”
All preliminary heats of racing will be on Sunday with the winner-take-all final scheduled for 3 p.m. (EST). Tickets are $20 for the weekend.
H1 UNLIMITED HYDROPLANE RACING SERIES NATIONAL POINTS STANDINGS
1) Andrew Tate, U-9 Auxier Marketing presents Delta Realtrac — 1,700 points
2) Tom Thompson, U-11 Reliable Diamond Tool presents J&D’s — 1,195 points (-505 behind)
3) Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet — 1,180 (-520 behind)
4) Brian Perkins, U-21 Darrell Strong presents Payne West Insurance — 1,094 points (-605 behind)
5) Cal Phipps, U-27 Chase Building Group — 625 points (-1,075 behind)
6) Dustin Echols, Bucket List Racing — 60 points (-1,640 behind)