Seafair, an icon of summer in Seattle, celebrating their 69th year of hosting an unlimited hydroplane race on Lake Washington, are expecting several thousand race fans to the shores of Lake Washington for this weekend’s HomeStreet Bank Cup.
Eight H1 Unlimited hydroplanes, the world’s fastest powerboats, take to the 2-mile racecourse beginning on Friday and continue through Sunday.
Defending national champion and 2018 defending HomeStreet Bank Cup champion, Andrew Tate, of Walled Lake, Mich., pursues his third win on Lake Washington. Tate also saw the victory stage after winning in 2016 aboard the U-9 “Les Schwab Tires.”
Now driving the U-1 “Delta/RealTrac,” Tate also will be chasing U-12 “Graham Trucking,” piloted by J. Michael Kelly of Bonney Lake, Wash., victor in last weekend’s race in Tri-Cities, Wash. Kelly, also with two wins at this event won in 2014 and 2015.
Kelly said, “We have been trying a lot of different set-ups including the gears, motors, and propeller combinations this year and we are making a lot of progress & have been learning a lot about what this boat likes and doesn’t like.”
He said although this is a shorter course than “what we won on last weekend, we have ran on two other courses this size this year, & we feel pretty confident.”
Kelly said, “I looking forward to being back racing on my home racecourse in front of family and friends and I would really like to win my third race in Seattle in front of them.”
Tate and “Delta/RealTrac” dominated the circuit last season and winning certainly is something which has escaped the “Delta/RealTrac” race team this year and Tate would like nothing more than to win his third Seafair race.
Someone who has dominated the first two races, Jimmy Shane from Maple Valley, Wash. and driver of the U-6 “Miss HomeStreet”, is coming off a perfect weekend last month at the Gold Cup trophy race in July — topping qualifying, winning all his preliminary heat races and the final, will try to get back on track after a streak-breaking third place finish last weekend.
A driver this weekend that has yet to experience the consistently choppy backstretch in Seattle is U-7 “Boitano Homes” driver, Bert Henderson from Canada. The oldest driver in the field at age 47, Henderson is from Brockville, Ont., just North of Syracuse, NY. Prior to this year, Henderson had only raced H1 Unlimited hydroplanes on the Detroit River. Despite his inexperience at West coast races, he is currently in third place in national championship points, trailing the leader, Shane, by 1,845 points.
Former minor league professional baseball player, Jamie Nilsen, driver of the U-11 “J&D’s presented by Reliable Diamond Tool” who replaced Tom Thompson as driver after the first two races has re-qualified as an H1 Unlimited hydroplane driver and his permit license restrictions have been lifted by H1 Unlimited hydroplane officials.
“Felt really good to be back racing on the water,” Nilsen said. “We feel the boat is really close to where it needs to be and I’ll be on no restrictions as a driver at Seafair.” Nilsen and his team would like nothing more to be the spoiler this weekend.
After developing a new hydroplane for ten years, a new race boat that was christened last weekend. The U-99.9 “CARSTARS powers Miss Rock KISW” driven by Brian Perkins hopes for a change of luck. On only the boat’s second run, it lost its custom escape hatch to the bottom of the Columbia River. After a scramble to find a replacement the team found one on Mark Evans’ hydroplane boat in storage in Chelan, Wash.
Two teams, the Miss Madison Racing team, owned by the citizens of Madison, Ind. and Rob Graham’s team will field two boats this weekend.
In addition to the “Miss HomeStreet,” the Miss Madison Racing team will field a boat for long-time hydroplane sponsor, Oberto Specialty Meats. Jeff Bernard will drive for Oberto who first sponsored a hydroplane in 1974 after a directing a TV telethon to save the race.
Rob Graham, owner of the U-12 “Graham Trucking” will field a second boat driven by 40-year-old rookie, Corey Peabody. The second entry is the U-98 “Graham Trucking American Dream” has a throw-back paint scheme from one of Graham’s first sponsorships.
Seattle’s romance with roostertails began on June 25, 1950, when Stan Sayres drove his “Slo-Mo-Shun IV” to a world straightaway record – 160.323 miles an hour – on Lake Washington. The event caught the city by surprise – few had ever heard of a hydroplane – but by the time the Gold Cup starting gun sounded a year later, “hydromania” had infected the populace.
After Sayres’ record, Ted Jones took the “Slo-Mo-Shun IV” to Detroit and won the Gold Cup – bringing the trophy and the hydroplane fleet to Seattle for 1951.
Excited Seattleites even sponsored two races that first year.
The history of hydros here is a rich one, dotted with tragedy, bitter rivalry, fist-shaking arguments and lots of thrills — Seattle’s annual lakeside party.
How to watch & view the H1 Unlimited hydroplane races:
Seafair Festival tickets are free on Friday and available to purchase for Saturday and Sunday. See the full Seafair Weekend schedule.
This weekend there will be several ways to watch and listen to the hydroplane races. This year, KONG-TV is proud to present live coverage of the H1 Unlimited hydroplane finals and much more on Sunday, August 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Watch all the action on KONG-TV channel 6/16, online at king5.com, or streaming on the brand new KING 5 app.
You can listen on Log Boom Radio, 88.9 FM or tune into H1 Unlimited’s YouTube channel for traditional complementary live coverage Friday through Sunday’s checkered flag.
HomeStreet Bank Cup Schedule
9:00 – 10:00 am H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Testing
11:45 – 1:05 pm H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Qualifying
9:00 – 9:30 am H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Testing
9:50 – H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Testing
2:25 – H1 Unlimited Hydroplane preliminary Heat Race 1A
2:40 – H1 Unlimited Hydroplane preliminary Heat Race 1B
9:00 – 10:10 am H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Testing
11:50 – 12:05 pm H1 Unlimited Hydroplane preliminary Heat Race 2A
12:10 – 12:25 pm H1 Unlimited Hydroplane preliminary Heat Race 2B
2:20 – 2:35 pm H1 Unlimited Hydroplane preliminary Heat Race 3A
2:35– 2:50pm H1 Unlimited Hydroplane preliminary Heat Race 3B
4:30 – 4:45 pm HomeStreet Bank Cup winner-take-all final
Awards Ceremony to follow
HomeStreet Bank Cup Line Up
U-1 “Delta/RealTrac” | Andrew Tate (29), Walled Lake, Mich. | Home port: Enumclaw, Wash.
U-6 “Miss HomeStreet” | Jimmy Shane (33), Maple Valley, Wash. | Home port: Madison, Ind.
U-7 “Boitano Homes” | Bert Henderson (47), Brockville, Ont. | Detroit, Mich.
U-11 “J&D’s presented Reliable Diamond Tool” | Jamie Nilsen (34), Gig Harbor, Wash. | Home port: Edmonds, Wash.
U-12 “Graham Trucking” | J. Michael Kelly (40), Bonney Lake, Wash. | Home port: Milton, Wash.
U-99.9 “CARSTARS powers Miss Rock KISW” | Brian Perkins (34), North Bend, Wash. | Home port: Covington, Wash.
U-98 “Graham Trucking American Dream” | Corey Peabody (40), Kent, Wash. |Home port: Milton, Wash.
U-1918 “Oberto Super Salami” | Jeff Bernard (34), Kent, Wash. | Home port: Madison, Ind.
H1 UNLIMITED HYDROPLANE RACING SERIES HIGH POINTS TOTALS (Pre HomeStreet Bank Cup)
1) U-6 “Miss HomeStreet” 5,950 points
2) U-12 “Graham Trucking” 4,539 pts
3) U-7 “Boitano Homes” 3,805 pts
4) U-1 “Delta/RealTrac” 3,152 pts
5) U-98 “Graham Trucking American Dream” 2,711 pts
6) U-11 “J&D’s presented Reliable Diamond Tool” 2,190 pts
7) U-440 “Bucket List Racing” 2,020 pts
8) U-1918 “Oberto Super Salami” 1,313 pts
9) U-99.9 “CARSTARS powers Miss Rock KISW” 958 pts
10) U-3 “Griggs presents Miss Ace Hardware” 630 pts
2019 H1 UNLIMITED HYDROPLANE RACING SERIES SCHEDULE
June 28-30, 2019 • Southern Cup • Guntersville, Ala. • Lake Guntersville • Winner Jimmy Shane
July 5-7, 2019 • Indiana Governor’s Gold Cup • Madison, Ind. • Ohio River • Winner Jimmy Shane
July 26-28, 2019 • HAPO Columbia Cup • Kennewick, Wash. • Columbia River • Winner J. Michael Kelly
August 2-4, 2019 • HomeStreet Bank Cup • Seattle • Lake Washington
September • HomeStreet Bank Bill Muncey Cup • San Diego • Mission Bay