Monday, June 20, 2022

HYDROS: Series Stays Afloat During 2021 Season

But the Season’s races sure got Washed Down with No Seafair in Seattle for the Second Year in-a-row…


Ok, I’ll admit that I’ve somehow completely forgotten about the Unlimited Hydroplanes the past two Summers, since they didn’t Spin Up any of Thar Lycoming T-55 Turbines during the Cancelled 2020 H1 Unlimited season due to COVID-19.


And with this sudden realization of completely forgetting about the Fastest Boats On Water, I just so happened to Drop in for the first time in forever on the Official H1 Unlimited website on the Friday of last year’s Tri Cities Hydroplane race (July 25th) and was very surprised by how much turnover had occurred in the fleet. Or the fact that this was the season’s penultimate round.


But first I’ll “Jump the Shark” to note what presumably still known as the APBA National High Points Championship points standings were, entering the season finale at San Diego’s Mission Bay, in what effectively seemed like a proverbial “rubber Match.”


J. Michael Kelly led Jimmy Shane by 210 points by my Rith-Muh-tickin’; 4,035 to 3,825 with my memory saying 400 points were awarded for a Heat win. Which I looked up and indeed 1st thru 7th place awards points in the following: 400-300-225-169-127-95-71.


While Thars also a sliding scale points payout for Qualifying with a maximum of 100 points to a minimum of 30 for the slowest Hydros’. While those not qualifying above the mandatory minimum of 130mph are awarded 0. Preliminary Heats are three laps each and the final is five laps winner takes All…


2021 Season Reset

Shakeup was the theme of the elongated 2020 Offseason, with Mike & Shelly Jones of longtime Jones Racing, owners of my favourite Hull and Driver, the U-9 Les Schwab and Andrew Tate having sold their equipment to previous sponsor Darrell Strong, who along with his wife Vanessa effectively became the new “Powerhouse” team.


As Strong Racing, which plans to ultimately become based in Eastern Washington, also acquired the assets of the Ellstrom Racing/Elam Racing operation, including it’s U-3 Hull, Engines, Gearboxes, etc. Being one of the newer Boats which presumably became the U-8 Miss Tri cities with J. Michael Kelly behind the wheel. While the U-9, which I’d read awhile ago was the oldest Hull in the series was piloted by Cory Peabody in the renamed Pinnacle Peak Consultants Hydroplane.


The other major change was the return of the Sport’s winningest Unlimited Hydroplane Driver Dave Villwock, who at age 67 made his return to the cockpit of the U-40 Beacon Plumbing after a five year layoff, as part of Bucket List Racing’s two Hull entry.


Graham Trucking which previously ran two boats has slimmed down to a single entry with Andrew Tate taking over J. Michael Kelly’s U-12 vacated seat. While I’m still Cornfuzed why proverbial Championship winner Jimmy Shane was reportedly splitting Seat time with Jeff Bernard in the U-1 Miss Home Street.


2021 Season Recap

The season began with what’s now it’s traditional opening round on Lake Guntersville in Georgia, where Strong Racing impressed upon it’s Debut, with lead driver J. Michael Kelly winning, teammate Cory Peabody second and Dave Villwock third.


Strangely, and I Don’t understand why? The Defending National High Points Team and Drivers Champion Jimmy Shane shared His U-1 Miss Home Street ride with Jeff Bernard. As Bernard drove Heats 1B, 3B and the Final, with Shane just running Heat 2A. As I cannot ever remember such a scenario in the Big Boats…


Yet Jimmy Shane claimed his fifth Gold Cup victory in the second round at Madison, Indiana. Then Cory Peabody captured his Debutante H1 Unlimited victory at the Tri Cities race in late July, before the Unlimiteds went on Hiatus until September.  


2021 Bayfair Season Finale

The 2021 H1 Unlimited Drivers Championship came down to the wire at San Diego’s Mission Bay last September 19th, between J. Michael Kelly and the Defending Champion Jimmy Shane in a pathetic five Boat field…


As Shane Beat Kelly not only in Qualifying, but also in both of Saturday’s preliminary Heats, carving Kelly’s High Points Standings lead to a razor slim 80 points!


As Sunday’s final Winner take All Heat was further whittled down to a four Boat field, since the U-11 JnD’s Hydraulics Hydroplane driven by Jamie Milsen had Done Blown Up it’s Lycoming Turbine engine during Saturday’s preliminary Heat, for which the Crew worked late night and early morning to No Avail! AS they engine just wouldn’t keep running.


Thus it was Shane in the U-1 Goodman Real Estate/Home Street, the Strong Racing Duo of it’s U-8 & U-9 with Kelly and Peabody respectively, and Villwock’s U-40. And although Shane led wire-to-wire, with Villwock second and Kelly running third. It was quickly deemed that both Shane and Peabody had Jumped the Start and were both assessed One lap Penalties.


Then following what appeared to be Villwock’s first W’ since returning to the cockpit. Subsequent review of the Boats “Data Boex’s” (recorder) determined that Villwock had been running too Slow during the five minute Pre-race “Milling” period, where boats need to maintain a minimum 80mph speed. Automatically Disqualifying Him.


Hence, J. Michael Kelly was the winner with Shane second and Peabody third, giving Kelly the National High Points Drivers Championship Crown to Him and Strong Racing in their Debut season, with the team also winning three of the season’s four races.


As interestingly, Jimmy Shane could have very easily once again been the National High Points Drivers Champion if He Hadn’t missed those three rounds during the Season Opener. Especially since I believe Kelly only won the title by 180 points, and I know that Jeff Bernard at least won Heat 1B at Lake Guntersville…