Sunny weather and a slight breeze greeted four unlimited hydroplanes as they kicked of the 2018 H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series season with a day-long preseason test session.
The event was hosted by the Tri-City Water Follies on the Columbia River on Friday.
The U-440 Bucket List Racing driven by Dustin Echols (Sultan, Wash.), U-1 Miss HomeStreet driven by national champion Jimmy Shane (Maple Valley, Wash.), U-9 Les Schwab Tires driven by Andrew Tate (Walled Lake, Mich.) and U-11 Reliable Diamond Tool present J&D’s driven by Tom Thompson (Cambridge, Mass.) all participated and accomplished their testing goals prior to the first race of the season at Guntersville Lake, Ala. in three weeks.
The U-440 Bucket List Racing were the first and last boat on the temporary 2-1/2 mile race course and racked up the most testing laps of the four boats. The team made four attempts and completed 16 laps for the day.
2017 rookie-of-the-year driver Echols said,
We are looking good now. Really good.
Each time out we got better and better and I am excited on how fast the boat is now.
Echols said this is the fastest the boat has ever gone, easily eclipsing the mandatory 130 mph qualifying lap required at each of the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series six races.
We accomplished all our objectives and then some.
His team spent much of the off-season building new gearboxes and custom-made propellers that contributed to the team’s success today.
Miss HomeStreet and Shane completed 14 laps, having gone out on the racecourse three separate times.
We did everything we set out to do.
Our team dynamic is great and we verified that we got the boat back together in the off-season.
The Miss HomeStreet team made three engine changes as well during the course of the day and the team feel they are ready for the expected fast waters at the Southern Cup in Guntersville, Ala. on June 22-24.
The U-9 Les Schwab Tires driver Tate said the slight aero changes to the race boat made the boat faster and said:
The boat felt great.
Now we have to get next to the other teams in competition to see how the boat reacts.
Preparation wins boat racing and the nine laps we ran today will put us in good shape going into the Guntersville Lake race.
The U-11 Reliable Diamond Tool presents J&D’s said they experienced some issues when Thompson felt a vibration throughout the boat and chose to shut the boat down on lap two.
As it turned out, Thompson was correct in shutting the boat down.
After getting it back to the dock, the team discovered they had propeller shaft issues that could have been catastrophic to the boat had Thompson not shut it down.
It was a long, short day.
This is why we test prior to the season.
Had this happened at the first race, the team would have had to spend the night working in the pits to get the boat ready.
Now the team can return to the Seattle area to make the necessary repairs in their shop.
It is a relief to know we have changes that worked and we have a race course set-up for our first race.
Because this was a preseason test and it was a temporary race course, no average speeds were recorded.
The four teams that tested today are all expected to be at the first race of the season in Guntersville and are expected to be joined by four additional H1 Unlimited hydroplane teams.