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H1 Unlimited fleet prepares for Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seafair
For the Reporter
The H1 Unlimited Hydroplane fleet is in Seattle preparing for the Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seafair on Lake Washington this weekend.
For four of the race teams, repairing is a better word.
J. Michael Kelly's U-1 Graham Trucking, Jimmy Shane's U-6 Oberto, Jeff Bernard's U-17 Our Gang Racing and Dave Villwock's U-37 Beacon Plumbing all received significant damage at the HAPO Columbia Cup in the Tri-Cities last weekend.
Those teams are busy trying to get their boats sea worthy in time for one of the most important stops on the tour. All are expected to be ready by the weekend.
For Greg and Brian O'Farrell's U-21 Lakeridge Paving, the prognosis is much worse. Driver Jamie Nilsen was not seriously injured when the boat blew over at the west end of the 2.5-mile Columbia Cup race course, but the boat and team are finished for the season.
"It's a really tough blow," Greg O'Farrell said. "But that's boat racing and we will be back."
The team's 21 was slated to become the 50 Fox Plumbing and Heating for Seafair, commemorating the company's 50th anniversary. The sponsorship will move to the U-17 driven by Jeff Bernard. The boat will race as the U-17 Our Gang presents Fox Plumbing and Heating.
"I wanted to do what I could for Greg O'Farrell and David Brown, owner of Fox Plumbing & Heating," said Our Gang owner Nate Brown. " I know what it's like to have a boat destroyed like that."
"I am honored to have David Brown's company onboard, to help Greg out, and to continue to show my appreciation for the many fans who have supported Our Gang," added Nate Brown.
Fans have been joining Our Gang by donating $75 toward the team's expenses, for which they receive a button and t-shirt and the opportunity to sign the boat. Once the team's expenses are met, proceeds will go to Ronald McDonald House.
Fox Plumbing and Heating is also sponsoring a preliminary heat and adding interest to the Championship Final Heat with the Fox Plumbing and Heating Seafair Jackpot. All boats making the final and displaying a Fox Plumbing sticker will go into a drawing. The lucky team whose number is drawn will receive $20,000 with an additional $5,000 going to the driver.
Race teams will be moving into the Stan Sayres Pit Area and setting up on Thursday with activity on the race course starting with testing at 10 a.m. Friday. Drivers will meet and greet fans in an autograph session at noon with qualifying for the Albert Lee Cup beginning at 2:50 p.m.
Racing begins with Heat 1A at 11:55 a.m. Saturday and concludes with the Albert Lee Appliance Cup at 4:45 p.m. Sunday.
Complete schedule and more information on boats and drivers can be found at www.h1unlimited.com.
Boats and drivers expected to compete are:
Boat, name, driver, hometown
U-1, Graham Trucking, J. Michael Kelly, Bonney Lake
U-6, Oberto, Jimmy Shane, Covington
U-7, Graham Trucking II, Cal Phipps, Sterling Heights, Mich.
U-9, Les Schwab Tires-Team RedDOT, Jon Zimmerman, Maple Valley
U-11, Peters & May, Tom Thompson, Cambridge, Md.
U-12, Miss DiJulio, Greg Hopp, Lake Stevens
U-17, Our Gang Racing-Fox Plumbing & Heating, Jeff Bernard, Maple ValleyFox Plumbing & Heating
U-18, Bucket List Racing, Kelly Stocklin, Edmonds
U-22, Performance Tools-Boitano Homes, Mike Webster, Reading, Pa.
U-37, Beacon Plumbing, Dave Villwock, Monroe
U-96, Spirit of Qatar, Kip Brown, Black Diamond
U-100, Leland Unlimited, Dave Warren, Lake Stevens