The Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison.
The Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison.
Fans were denied a chance to see Unlimited hydroplane racing on the Ohio River this weekend, but Jimmy Shane still found a way to bring home the victory in the APBA Gold Cup in Madison.

Shane steered the U-1 Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison to victory in the H1 Unlimited Drivers Invitational race which was held virtually on the HydroSim program and broadcast live on H1’s YouTube and Facebook platforms on Sunday.

The victory was Shane’s second in as many weeks in the series and, like the win in Guntersville, Alabama the week before, came after a wreck by his chief competitor.

“Oh man, I’m pumped up right now. That was one of the hardest races I’ve ever driven,” said Shane, who has won 19 races on the real H1 circuit.

Shane, who has only been driving the computer-simulated boats for a week and a half, found himself behind real-life teammate Jeff Bernard for the entire race. Bernard, who has been competing in HydroSim leagues for over a month, was the fastest qualifier and won each of his three preliminary heats in dominating fashion aboard the U-91 Goodman Real Estate/Miss Madison.

“I got all the equipment about a month ago and have been practicing with the regular E-League guys. And the race they were working in was Madison,” Bernard said. “So I feel like I have a little bit of an advantage over the other guys.”

Bernard secured lane one in the final with Shane in two and J. Michael Kelly in lane three aboard the U-12 Graham Trucking. But it was Shane that nailed the start, hitting the line right at zero and at full speed while Bernard and Kelly faltered.

Bernard recovered quickly and used his lane position and superior straightaway speed to catch up. But Bernard got loose on lap two and went into the air. He never flipped over and landed hard, rightside up, but the incident was all that Shane needed to cruise away with the win.

“I just knew how hard it was going to be with Jeff inside of me and I wanted a good showing for both of the Madison boats but obviously I also really wanted to win the race,” said Shane, cruised up both virtual shorelines to acknowledge “the fans”, just as he does after his real wins. “It came down to that start. I had my timing right on it and I was fortunate to beat Jeff and the other boats down that turn one. And that’s the key in this sport and any other race.

“It took me until the final heat to figure out the start,” Shane said. “I jumped the gun in one heat, I was about three seconds late in another heat. Finally I was able to get it all figured out at the right time and it all worked out for the Miss HomeStreet.”

Bernard recovered to place second giving Miss Madison Racing a 1-2 finish on its home course. Taylor Evans, who is the crew chief for Bucket List Racing, placed third in the U-99.9 Bucket List Miss Rock while Kelly was fourth. Jaime Nilsen placed fifth in the U-11 J&Ds and Aaron Salmon, who jumped the one-minute gun, placed sixth.

The win was Shane’s second-straight in the series and the third-straight for the Miss HomeStreet. Kelsey Best won the E-League Madison Regatta last month in the boat.

The H1 Unlimited E-League returns this weekend with the regular HydroSim drivers competing in the HAPO Columbia Cup in th Tri-Cities, Washington on Saturday. The E-League will then race in Seattle on Aug. 8 and in San Diego on Aug. 22.

The H1 Series drivers will have two more races on the season. They will compete in the Tri-Cities on July 25 and in Seattle on Aug. 1. Those dates coincide with the original dates of those actual races.