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Hydros establish race schedule, announce award winners
For the Reporter
After a weekend of meetings culminating in the annual H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Awards Banquet on Saturday, series chairman Sam Cole announced that the 2014 racing schedule is complete and will include a return to the Diamond Cup in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
The season will open with the Madison Regatta in Madison, Indiana in July, followed by stops in Detroit, Tri Cities, Seattle (Seafair on Lake Washington, Aug. 1-3), Coeur d'Alene, San Diego and Doha, Qatar for the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship in November.
All races will be televised on the CBS Sports Network on a delayed basis.
Cole also announced a rule change designed to do away with the "park and start" starting procedure, which had boats moving at a crawl before the start of heats in 2013.
The new starting procedure will mandate that all drivers maintain a speed of at least 80 mph during the milling period before the start. Drivers who appear to be below that speed will receive a warning from the referee with additional warnings including penalties. There will be no "score-up buoy," but racing lanes must be established by the entrance to the final turn before the start.
Award winners announced Saturday evening at the Snoqualmie Casino East of Seattle included: Crew of the Year, 11 Peters & May; Crew Chief of the Year, Jeff Campbell of Jones Racing; and Rookie of the Year, Jamie Nilsen.
Billy Schumacher was named owner of the year and the Fan Favorite award went to Greg Hopp.
The awards presentation ended with trophy presentations to the top three teams from 2013, beginning with Nate Brown and driver Kip Brown recognized for their third-place finish in Season High Points with the 95 Spirit of Qatar. Brown also drove the 95 to victory in the 2013 Gold Cup.
They were followed by Miss Madison Racing Team manager Charlie Grooms accepting the second-place hardware on behalf of the Kent-based Oh Boy! Oberto team and driver Steve David, who retired at the end of the season.
Jimmy Shane joined his championship 2013 Graham Trucking team, owner Ted Porter and sponsor Rob Graham on stage and hoisted the Bill Muncey championship driver's trophy, the new H1 perpetual team championship trophy and the Martini and Ross trophy signifying the Unlimited National Championship.
Shane will move to the Madison Racing team in 2014, replacing David as driver of the Oh Boy! Oberto. J. Michael Kelly will drive the 1 Graham Trucking on the 2014 tour.
For more information, visit www.h1unlimited.com.