Eight H1 Unlimited hydroplane race boats are expected to compete June 22-24 on the fastest race water in the South.
The weekend of racing marks the return of the world’s fastest race boats on Guntersville Lake who have not competed on the lake since 1969.
Teams qualify on the 2-1/2 mile Southern Cup race course on Friday, and race on Saturday and Sunday.
In the 1960s the boats were known to post world record speeds on Guntersville Lake.
Those records have fallen, but with advanced racing technologies and the return to the lake, today’s drivers are looking forward to possibilities of setting new world records in Alabama.
Last year during an exhibition run on Guntersville Lake, Jimmy Shane (Maple Valley, Wash.) driving the U-1 Miss HomeStreet looked at his speedometer and raised his eyebrows.
When he got back to the pits, he just grinned:
I can tell you, just from the area that we tested, were running fast, like 196 mph on the lake.
It was fast!
The world record for the fastest qualifying lap on a 2-1/2 mile course is 164.759 mph held by Dave Villwock on San Diego’s Mission Bay in 2011.
We are excited.
Last year I was fortunate to test here and there must’ve been 5,000 people just for the exhibition.
I can’t wait for our fans in the Southern region of the country to see Miss HomeStreet and numerous other H1 Unlimited hydroplanes all racing together, deck-to-deck.
Although it will be the season opener, it also becomes the sixth event added to the H1 Unlimited hydroplane season. And, there is plenty of optimism to go around about it.
Drivers such as Andrew Tate (Walled Lake, Mich.), who finished second in the national high points race with the U-9 Delta/Realtrac, warm to the idea of a brand new course that none of the current drivers have competed on.
I’m really excited.
This is my third year driving an H1 Unlimited hydroplane.
A new course makes for an even playing field.
The other drivers don’t have notes on the course either.
Local team owner Charley Wiggins (Birmingham, Ala.), owner of the U-27 Greater Gadsden presents Chase Building Group hydroplane knows the water perhaps better than anyone on the H1 Unlimited hydroplane circuit. Guntersville Lake could be a double-edged sword.
The Guntersville course, being on a much wider body of water than the Tri-City (Wash.) and San Diego 2-1/2 mile courses should provide either a smoother course or it could produce a much rougher course if the winds come from the west-southwest directions.
Having duck hunted on various parts of Guntersville Lake for many years, wind direction can take a smooth mill pond lake and create treacherous white caps for a 16-foot flat bottom boat, which unlimited hydroplane drivers don’t like either. So if the winds are down, it will be smooth like San Diego.
In other words, teams better be prepared for anything on a course they don’t know much about.
The U-27 Greater Gadsden presents Chase Building Group is considered the hometown race boat, based in nearby Rainbow City, Ala.
Their driver Cal Phipps (Avon Lake, Ohio) said they cannot wait to get back to racing.
When we take the checkered flag on Sunday fans are going to hear one of the best renditions of the song ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ they have ever heard.
In addition to Phipps, expect a battle to be waged by top contenders Shane in the U-1 Miss HomeStreet and Tate in the U-9 Delta/Realtrac.
Tate, with Jeff and Mike Campbell leading his crew, is especially excited for the new season.
At Jones Racing, with the wisdom of the Campbell brothers and the boat setup, we have it down pretty well.
I couldn’t be happier with the boat.
Shane expects more teams to be in the title hunt:
There are as many as five boats that could win the national championship.
The U-11 (Reliable Diamond Tool presents J&D’s) is going to be faster this year, and (U-7 Spirit of Detroit driver) Bert Henderson is going to be a player this year.
The other boats expected to fill the field include, U-21 Darrell Strong presents Payne West Insurance, driven by Brian Perkins (North Bend, Wash.), U-99.9 CARSTAR powers Miss Rock driven by rookie driver Aaron Salmon (Bonnie Lake, Wash.), and U-440 Bucket List Racing, driven by 2017 rookie-of-the-year, Dustin Echols (Sultan, Wash.).