The great State of Washington is abuzz as the H1 Unlimited fleet sets its sights on HydroTown USA, also known as Tri-Cities, Washington, for the 50th running of the Columbia Cup. Adding intrigue and importance to this years HAPO Columbia Cup is the prestigious Gold Cup Trophy; the oldest trophy in motorsports. After a 24-year stranglehold, Detroit relinquished its grasp on the grand old trophy and the Water Follies wasted no time whisking the Gold Cup westward for its golden anniversary. Just as the Daytona 500 is in NASCAR, in hydroplane racing the Gold Cup is still very much the race.
With only select boats seeing action in Madison, Indiana due to high water, the fleet will arrive intact and largely untested. Several teams, like, for example, the U-18, U-22, U-27, U-96, and U-100, have yet to get wet in 2015. Also untested and perhaps a bit rusty will be the Allison-powered U-3, which will make her return to racing after a five-year hiatus. The Go3 team will delight many hydroplane fans worldwide who still root for that WWII-era powerplant.
The Gold Cup offers an extra set of heats worth 400 points on the line and a full fleet of 12 of the fastest race boats in the world. Indeed, this 50th running of the Columbia Cup may be the most anticipated hydroplane race in Washington State in decades. After the roostertails are done flying in TC, it’s anyone’s guess who will be left standing to hoist the Cup and join the ranks of the legendary names that adorn it: Names such as Gar Wood, Guy Lombardo, Bill Muncey, Dean Chenoweth, and Chip Hanauer.
HydroDan’s Three 2 Think About:
A Threat: The once-retired, Gold-Cup-winning Jean Theoret returns to the cockpit of an unlimited hydroplane for the full season slate after appearing as a relief driver for once race last season (at the Doha Oryx Cup). Theoret will chauffeur the Ellstrom family’s reworked U-96 Miss Elam Plus entry. The French Canadian is no stranger to these waters, having successfully tested the boat with his team on the Columbia River just a few months ago. With the determination and know-how the Ellstrom camp possesses, the hard-charging Theoret is a threat to win the Gold Cup.
Stay Golden: Jimmy Shane dominated in Detroit last season and captured his first Gold Cup as well as the first for the Oberto Sausage Company, which will unfortunately be pulling the plug on boat sponsorship after this season. Shane in the U-1 is also the defending Columbia Cup champion and defending National Champion. As the Gold Cup is the first points race of the season, much is at stake for the defense of Miss Madison’s U-1 identification. Will the pressure mount on young Shane or will he show the resolve and composure he has for most of his burgeoning career?
All The Way JMK: J. Michael Kelly beat Jimmy Shane in the Madison exhibition and proved he can run with the defending champ. Although not for points, Shane and Kelly raced hard for the Governor’s Cup exhibition in front of the Madison faithful. It was revealed after the race that tech inspection discovered a brief N2 violation of the U-5 Graham Trucking‘s T-55 L7c Lycoming engine. Many fans cried foul and claimed that Kelly can’t beat Shane straight up. However, review the 2014 race results and you will see Kelly and the U-5 won 4 out of 6 races. It is was, in fact, hull damage suffered in the Tri-Cities last season that likely cost Kelly and Camp Porter the National Points deal.
Posted on: Jul 18 2015 10:58 PM UTC
Edited on: Jul 18 2015 11:01 PM UTC