A drone provides an unique look at the U-1918 Oberto Super Salami/Miss Madison and the U-8 Oh Boy! Oberto vintage boat (above) during the test session on Lake Washington in Seattle last week.(Photo courtesy Oberto Racing)
A drone provides an unique look at the U-1918 Oberto Super Salami/Miss Madison and the U-8 Oh Boy! Oberto vintage boat (above) during the test session on Lake Washington in Seattle last week.(Photo courtesy Oberto Racing)
Miss Madison fans will be seeing double this weekend when they tune in to watch the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series race in the Tri-Cities, Washington.

For the first time in the team’s 58-year history, Miss Madison Racing will field not one, but two entries in an Unlimited race thanks to an agreement with the Oberto Specialty Meats company. Jimmy Shane will continue to drive the team’s primary entry, the U-6 Miss HomeStreet, while Jeff Bernard will climb into the team’s backup boat, the U-1918 Oberto Super Salami.

While one team running multiple boats is not unheard of in the long history of the sport, it represents a serious step forward for Miss Madison Racing, which spent much of its first 45 years of existence just fighting to get one boat on the water.

But the Miss Madison team has emerged as the preeminent team in the sport over the past decade in a half, winning National High Points Championships in eight of the past 12 seasons and that run looks like it is in good shape to continue.

Shane has the Miss HomeStreet well ahead of the field after a dominating run through the first two races of the season. Shane has emerged victorious in nine of the 10 heats that have been run — including both final heats — and has set two new course records while claiming top qualifying status in both Guntersville, Alabama and at Madison earlier this month.

That hot start has allowed Shane to build a 1,081-point lead over J. Michael Kelly and the U-12 Graham Trucking, with Bert Henderson and the U-7 Spirit of Detroit sitting 1,406 points back in third. Last year’s National Champion, Andrew Tate, is 2,578 points back in the U-9 Delta/Realtrac thanks to skipping the season opener.

While Kelly and Tate figure to be contenders on the incredibly fast 2.5-mile course on the Columbia River — Kelly won the race in 2017 and Tate won in 2018 — Shane’s top competition could very well come from the adjecent pit stall.

Bernard has three H1 Unlimited wins under his belt and the boat he is driving is the same one that Shane won four-straight national crowns in from 2014 through 2017. The Oberto, which was built in 2007 and won 24 races as Miss Madison’s primary hull through July of last year, is still an incredibly fast boat. The only question is, how much equipment will Bernard and his crew have in which to work.

“We’re obviously down on parts running two Madison boats; it’s taking all of the spare parts from the HomeStreet guys to run this thing,” Bernard said. “We’ve got to be a little bit conservative, but from what I’ve been told, we’ll go out and run the final just as any other boat would. I’m looking forward to getting to the Tri-Cities and Seattle and having some fun.”

Two other boats and three other drivers will be making their season debuts this weekend in the Tri-Cities.

Jimmy King and the Allison-powered U-3 Grigg’s Ace Hardware will be racing for the first time while Brian Perkins will steer the brand-new U-99.9 PayneWest Insurance, a boat that was just completed last month. Jamie Nilsen will make his first H1 start as a driver in five years when he takes over the U-11 J&Ds from Tom Thompson.

Testing for the HAPO Columbia Cup in the Tri-Cities is set for Friday at 11 a.m. EDT with qualfying scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EDT and the annual Dash for Cash going off at 8:05 p.m. EDT.

Like previous years, the Columbia Cup will be a four-heat affair with first two sets of heats on Saturday and the next two on Sunday. The winner-take-all final heat will be run at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

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2019 HAPO COLUMBIA CUP

Weekend H1 Schedule

(All times EDT)

Friday, July 26

11:00 a.m. — Testing

12:45 p.m. — Testing

4:30 p.m. — Qualifying

8:05 p.m. — Dash for Cash

Saturday, July 27

1 p.m. — Testing

4:50 p.m. — Heat 1A

5:15 p.m. — Heat 1B

7:20 p.m. — Heat 2A

7:45 p.m. — Heat 2B

Sunday, July 28

1:55 p.m. — Heat 3A

2:20 p.m. — Heat 3B

5:25 p.m. — Heat 4A

5:50 p.m. — Heat 4B

7:30 p.m. — HAPO Columbia Cup Final Heat