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Offseason updates from the Unlimiteds
Courier Sports Staff
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 10:00 AM
NEW TO THE HALL OF CHAMPIONS: Jimmy Shane, pictured after locking up the 2013 national championship, was inducted into the APBA Hall of Champions recently. Shane, who drove the 5 Graham Trucking to the title last year, is currently a free agent after resigning from that team late last year. (H1 Unlimited photo/Chris Denslow)
Extremely low water levels on Folsom Lake have forced H1 Unlimited to officially cancel its race in Sacramento, Calif., in 2014. The series raced there in 2013. (H1 Unlimited photo)
H1 2014 Tentative Schedule
(Events & Dates Subject to Change)
Madison, July 4-6
Detroit, July 11-13
Tri-Cities, Wash., July 25-27
Seattle, Aug. 1-3
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Aug. 29-31
San Diego, Sept. 12-14
Doha, Qatar, Nov. 20-22
A record drought in northern California has taken one race from the 2014 H1 Unlimited hydroplane schedule but the big boats may be making a trip back to an old site this year if a new promoter has its way.
The race in Sacramento, Calif., has officially been canceled this year due to extremely low water levels on Folsom Lake. How low? There is virtually no water left in the man-made lake that serves as a major water source for the state's capital.
As a result, there are only seven races on H1's tentative 2014 schedule. The season kicks off in Madison on July 4-6 and is followed by races in Detroit (July 11-13), Tri-Cities, Wash. (July 25-27), Seattle, Wash. (Aug. 1-3); Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (Aug. 29-31), San Diego (Sept. 12-14) and Doha, Qatar (Nov. 20-22).
These dates are not yet set in stone as the final paperwork between the sites and H1 has not been filed. But each of the dates coincide with the traditional dates for those race sites.
One race that is not on the schedule is in Evansville, where the Unlimiteds have not competed since 2009. But Nauticpromo, a new group that has shown interest in taking over management and administration of the sport this winter, put out a feeler on its Facebook page on Monday about a possible exhibition in the Pocket City.
"Currently seeking sponsors for the Evansville H1 exhibition," wrote Nauticpromo on its Facebook page. "The plan is to have 3-4 boats running a two-day exhibition. It will be an opportunity to see the first examples of the new match racing format. There are lots of sponsorship opportunities, so if you are keen to see the boats back in Evansville and want to help then let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org."
Nauticpromo has approached the H1 owners about a new business model which would include, among other things, a board of directors that is independent of the teams and sites, a new format for racing and a separate group to control officials. So far, there has been no word on where talks between Nauticpromo and the owners stand.
Ellstrom ride nearing completion
Ellstrom Racing Team, which last competed on the circuit in early 2013 under the sponsorship of the Spirit of Qatar, is nearing completion of a new boat, the team's first since 2001.
The team's old craft was badly damaged by fire at Doha last January and rather than repair the hull, the team simply decided to build a new one. The team sat out last season while working on the boat and its Qatari sponsorship was transferred to the Our Gang Racing team.
Team owner and crew chief Erick Ellstrom told H1's official website that the project is on schedule.
"Pretty close. The sponsons are hung and the shoes will be added soon," Ellstrom said. He added that the systems for the boat (fuel, electrical, hardware, etc.) are ready to go in and that process will begin soon.
Ellstrom expects the new Spirit of Qatar to be completed early in the spring and, when asked who will drive the new high-tech craft, said: "We will announce our new driver when the boat is ready."
Shane inducted into HOC
Jimmy Shane was officially inducted into the American Power Boat Association Hall of Champions during the APBA banquet in Reno, Nev,. last week.
Shane won the H1 title aboard the Graham Trucking last season, his first on the Unlimited level. The Hall of Champions annually honors championship drivers from each of the APBA racing categories, including the Unlimited level.
Shane resigned from the Graham Trucking team shortly after the season and is currently a free agent. Media reports in November stated that Shane had been hired to drive for the Miss Madison team this season, but the team has not confirmed nor denied the report.
Driver Jack Regas dies
Former National High Point and Gold Cup champion Jack Regas died at his home in Nampa, Idaho, last week. He was 90.
Regas, currently 17th in all-time wins with nine, was best known for his stint as driver of the Hawaii Kai III, also known as the "Pink Lady."
Regas was the only Unlimited hydroplane driver in the 1950s to win 45 percent of his races and was the first Unlimited driver to ever win six races in a row, en route to the 1957 National High Points championship. It was during that run that Regas scored a win at Madison for his lone Indiana Governor's Cup. The following year he took home the Gold Cup.
Regas wrote his name in the record book when the Hawaii Kai III became the fastest propeller-driven boat in the world. On Nov. 29-30, 1957, the Kai raised the mile straightaway record by 9 miles an hour to 187.627, a mark which would stand until 1960. The Kai also raised the world kilometer record by 10 miles per hour to 195.329, a mark that would stand until 1962.
During the time trials on Lake Washington, the Kai made one pass through the kilometer trap at 199.726 mph. The boat's raw time for the run was 11.162 seconds, which under APBA rules was rounded off to 11.2 seconds for the 199 mph clocking. If the raw time had been used, the speed would have been 200.409 instead. Thus, Hawaii Kai III was the first propeller-driven craft to turn an "official" 200 mile-an-hour lap.
Regas later drove the Miss Bardahl and Notre Dame until a string of accidents forced him to retire in 1968.
The family of Jack Regas has established a memorial fund in Jack's name to either the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Kent or the Diamond Cup Hydromaniacs group in Coeur d'Alene.
Donations may be sent to: Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum, 5917 S 196th St., Kent, WA 98032 or Diamond Cup Hydromaniacs, C/O John Tietz, 1401 E Best Ave., Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
Both organizations are non-profit organizations, so donations should be considered tax deductible.
Ole Bardahl to be inducted
Unlimited racing great Ole Bardahl, the late owner of the Miss Bardahl, will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on Aug. 6 at Detroit's historic Fillmore Theater.
In addition to Bardahl, other inductees include Raymond Beadle, John Bishop, Ricky Graham, Arie Luyendyk, Marshall Teague and Rusty Wallace.
Bardahl, a Norwegian immigrant, had achieved success in Indianapolis auto racing before joining the thunderboat ranks. He saw his Unlimited hydroplane as the perfect vehicle to promote his world-famous Bardahl Additive Oil.
Bardahl tested the Unlimited waters in 1957 by sponsoring one of the lower echelon teams at selected races. By the following year, he was a full-time owner.
The Miss Bardahl won more races (24) in the1960s than any other team. Between 1957 and 1969, Miss Bardahl accounted for 27 race victories, five Gold Cups, six National Championships, and was the first boat to average 116 miles per hour in a heat of competition (in 1965).
Billy Schumacher drove the Miss Bardahl to two victories at Madison, in 1967 and 1968.
Bardahl officially retired after the 1969 season, selling his boat to Bernie Little. The last Miss Bardahl competed as Miss Budweiser II and Miss U.S. in 1970. Her career ended in 1971 when she crashed to the bottom of the Ohio River during the Gold Cup at Madison as the Hallmark Homes.
All '13 races now online
The entire 2013 H1 season, including the ill-fated Madison race, have now been archived on the H1 website.
The races can be accessed by visiting www.h1unlimited.com/2013/11/2013-h1-races-on-cbs-sports/
H1 banquet scheduled
The annual H1 Unlimited awards banquet will be held on Saturday, March 15 at the Snoqualmie Casino near Seattle.
The winter meetings will be held on March 14-15 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Issaquah, Wash.
The meetings and banquet were originally scheduled and subsequently postponed for the Belterra Resort and Casino for last November but details could not be worked out.
The banquet is open to the public. More details for tickets and hotel reservations should be available on the H1 website soon.
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