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The roar of H1 Unlimited Hydroplanes will make raceboat music in Motown

Chris Davies on 21st August 2018

The Detroit region has a place and experience for everyone. It is home to several world-class museums, one of the world’s finest symphonies, is home to five professional sports, is filled with state parks, and thousands of inland lakes.

Long recognized as the historic heart of the American automotive industry and home to the Motown sound, one weekend a year H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series adds to the city’s rich history and entertainment when they race on the Detroit River, August 24-26. This year’s race is the city’s 102nd year hosting a power boat race.

Six of the world’s fastest race boats are entered in Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Gold Cup, the 54th time the Gold Cup has been held on the river east of downtown Detroit.

One of the six entries is local resident and driver Andrew Tate (Walled Lake, Michigan).

Tate has a commanding lead in the H1 Unlimited Hydro’s national high points over the field and is 1,998 point ahead of driver Jimmy Shane (Maple Valley, Washington) in the U-1 Miss HomeStreet who is in second place.

The 29-year-old Tate has won three of the four races this season in Guntersville, Alabama, Kennewick, Washington and Seattle. He was top qualifier at two of those races, Guntersville and Madison, Indiana.

In his third season driving for the U-9 Delta/Realtrac team, based in Kent, Washington, has yet to win the Gold Cup, the oldest actively awarded trophy in motor sports.

Tate knows the history and importance of winning the Gold Cup trophy. His father, Mark Tate, drove an H1 Unlimited hydroplane from 1990 to 2004 and has won the coveted trophy twice.

Jeff Campbell (Covington, Washington), long-time crew chief of the U-9 Delta/Realtrac team has been looking forward to the Gold Cup all summer and likes the challenges the Detroit River race course offers “because of the tight ‘Roostertail’ turn and the long straightaways, yacht club (wake) and the grandstand seawall.”

The most experienced crew chief racing this weekend, Campbell has six Gold Cups wins, 54 race wins and nine national championships.

“Trying to set up a boat to get around the Detroit river course is tough on the boat and driver. We look forward to racing the river and save the best equipment for the Gold Cup,” Campbell said. “It’s always an honor to race on the same water as the legends of the sport once did.”

Despite a frustrating season plagued with penalties, last year’s Gold Cup winner, Shane, driving the U-1 Miss HomeStreet is expected to add to Tate’s pressure as both want to win this year’s Gold Cup.

“It has been a challenging season and we are looking at the Detroit race to turn the corner and have a great race,” Shane said.

Last year, Shane became the eighth driver to win at least three Gold Cups (2017,’15, ’14). He also holds the 2.72-mile course qualifying record at 162.613 mph, set in 2014.

“The Gold cup is the most prestigious award of the season and a chance to race for it again is an honor,” Shane said.

Shane is second in high points and was the winner of the MidWest Tube Mills Indiana Governor’s Cup in July. He will be driving a new race boat that made its debut at the Albert Lee Appliance Cup in Seattle earlier this month.

Shane said, “We are excited to get our new Miss HomeStreet race boat on the larger race course to see how it performs. It was amazing when we debuted it in Seattle (last race), in fact, it was the fastest lap the team has ever run on a two-mile course.”

Shane’s team, based and owned by the citizens of Madison, Indiana, is the oldest active team in this weekend’s race having competed in every Gold Cup race since 1961. The team has four Gold Cup trophies (1971, 2014, ’15,’17).

Third in the high points chase is Tom Thompson (Cambridge, Md.), driver of the U-11 Reliable Diamond Tool presents J&D’s. Thompson who has yet to win a race in his seventh year driving an H1 Unlimited hydroplane has been consistent all year and is looking forward to adding his name to the historic Gold Cup trophy.

“The Detroit Gold Cup is a very exciting race course. After qualifying so well last year then having trouble that took us out for the weekend was disappointing,” Thompson said. “So we are looking forward to coming back and running well.”

Thompson finished third in two races, and won his first preliminary heat of his career this year.

Appearing in their first race of the season is the Detroit based, U-7 Spirit of Detroit, driven by rookie driver Bert Henderson (Brockville, Ontario). Last year, Henderson was involved in a crash in turn two prior to the start of the Gold Cup and his boat sustained heavy damage. The team has spent most of the year repairing damage to the boat.

“It has been a huge amount of anticipation waiting for my return to H1 Unlimited racing. Watching on-line has been difficult as I really wanted to be on the water competing,” Henderson said. He understands why the team did not participate until this weekend “as the team wanted the boat to be prepared and look like something they would be proud of. The team is as stocked as I am.”

Other teams entered include the U-440 Bucket List Racing, driven by Dustin Echols (Sultan, Washington) and 57-year-old Jimmy King (Whales, Michigan) driver of the U-3 The Roostertail hydroplane. King’s race boat is the only hydroplane left racing with an Allison V-12 piston power plant, designed and assembled to fly World War II fighters.

Qualifying is scheduled for Friday, August 24 a 5:00p, followed by preliminary heat racing on Saturday, August 25, with more preliminary heat racing and the Gold Cup final scheduled for Sunday, August 26.

1) Andrew Tate, U-9 Delta/Realtrac, 6,785 points
2) Jimmy Shane, U-1 Miss HomeStreet, 4,787 points
3) Tom Thompson, U-11 Reliable Diamond Tool presents J&D’s, 3,971 points
4) Brian Perkins, U-21 PayneWest Insurance, 3,388 points
5) Cal Phipps, U-1918 Oberto Beef Jerky, 2,969 points
6) Dustin Echols, U-440 Bucket List Racing, 2,645 points
7) J. Michael Kelly, U-12 Graham Trucking, 1,724 points
8) Aaron Salmon, U-99.9 CARSTAR powers Miss Rock, 1,399 points
9) Jimmy King, U-3 The Roostertail, 146 points

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