The original U-99.9 Miss Rock's Hull, Circa 1995. (Source: Bing.com images)
Hopefully this year's season opening Unlimited Hydroplane regatta on the Madison will go more smoothly than last year's aborted race. As the sport seems to be in a holding pattern, with the same five races on the cards, i.e.; Madison, Tri Cities, Seattle, Detroit and San Diego, albeit last year Detroit was on shaky ground after originally having its storied Gold Cup event cancelled.
Although H1 Unlimited has confirmed scant weeks ago that the series would be returning to Lake Guntersville in 2018, where they last raced in 1969!
Meanwhile, there will be less Hulls in the water, at the very least for Round-1 with only eleven Hydros taking part, one less than last year's count, albeit most likely there will be more than last year's five competitors in the water overall when the 2016 season kicks off this weekend.
For Mwah, there appears to be four legitimate competitors vying for the National High Points crown, with Jimmy Shane as the defending champion aboard the newly minted U-1 Miss Home Street, the same Miss Madison outfit that for years successfully campaigned as the Oh Boy Oberto, which sadly ended its association as the team's sponsor last year.
Shane's fiercest rival most likely will be J. Michael Kelly aboard the potent U-5 Graham Trucking I, as the team has put its second Hull, the U-7 Graham Trucking II on hiatus, presumably to focus upon winning the elusive championship, along with the monetary savings it'll incur, which leaves Jesse Robertson currently without a ride in Thy B-I-G BOATZ', nee Unlimiteds this season.
And I'll put Eric Ellstrom's U-96 Elam-plus's Jean Theoret ahead of Cal Phipps for the simple reasons that Theoret's a proven winner, with Ellstrom's Hulls having won multiple championships before.
As the U-27 Dalton Industries is still relatively new to the scene, being the only team not based in Washington, residing in Alabama instead. While veteran driver Phipps is still in search of overall victory, having won multiple Heat Races to date, with Messer Phipps becoming my favourite Thunderboat Jockey last year.
A few more Hulls of interest, albeit not sure of whether they'll be successful this season or not? Include the likes of the U-3, U-18 and U-99.9.
The U-3 Unlimited Hydroplane piloted by Jimmy King is the only non-turbine powered Hull in the Unlimiteds fleet, being propelled by a World War II era Allison V-12 that's twin turbocharged, and most definitely is a Fan Favourite harkening back to the throaty roar 'O Yesteryear! And even better yet, the boat seems well suited for the lumpy waters of Detroit.
Meanwhile, Kelly Stockman, the owner/driver of the U-18 Bucket List Racing Hull, who suffered injury in a spectacular Blow over accident at San Diego last year has completely rebuilt the boat along with recovering, and is ready to go Full Throttle once again this season.
And although Diehard Pacific Northwest Hydroplane Aficionados have seen the demise of Miss Budweiser, Squire Shop, Atlas Van Lines and now Oh Boy Oberto disappear from the scene. Fans will rejoice with the return of another 'Ol Mainstay, as Miss Rock will once again race upon Lake Washington this summer.
While certainly the title sponsors of our yearly Seafair regatta known as the Albert Lee Appliance Cup will be hoping for Brian Perkins to at least skipper the U-21 into the final heat on Lake Washington later this year...
No. Name Driver
U-1 Miss Home Street Jimmy Shane
U-3 GO 3 Racing Jimmy King
U-5 Graham Trucking I J. Michael Kelly
U-9 Les Schwab R-Andrew Tate
U-11 Miss Peters & May Thom Thompson
U-14 Centurion Racing Dave Warren
U-18 Bucket List Racing Kelly Stockman
U-21 Miss Albert Lee Brian Perkins
U-27 Dalton Industries Cal Phipps
U-96 Ellstrom Elam Plus Jean Theoret
U-99.9 Car Star Miss Rock Kevin Eacret