The H1 Unlimited hydroplane fleet invades Seattle this weekend for the Albert Lee Appliance Cup on Lake Washington.
The unlimiteds test and qualify Friday, with racing Saturday and Sunday. The final heat is 4:45 p.m. Sunday.
Eight boats are expected in the pit area, and many of them have a legitimate chance to come away with a victory.
Among the favorites will be the reigning three-time national champion, the U-1 Miss HomeStreet, a hydro owned by the citizens of Madison, Ind. The team’s sponsor is based in the Seattle area and the driver is Jimmy Shane of Renton. Shane won at Seafair in 2013.
Shane, a five-time APBA national high-point champion, is an integration engineer at Blue Origin, LLC, in Kent.
Also looking for a win will be the U-9 Les Schwab Tires, which won the Seattle race last year. Michigan native Andrew Tate, who was last year’s Rookie of the Year, drives the Kent-based boat..
In winning last weekend’s race in the Tri-Cities, the U-12 Graham Trucking team proved that it is a definite contender in Seattle. The boat was purchased by its longtime sponsor, Rob Graham, during the offseason and was completely rebuilt at its shop in Milton. The team’s driver, Bonney Lake’s J. Michael Kelly, won the cup in 2014 and 2015.
Making its first appearance in the season will be the U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto, which is the newest boat on the unlimited circuit and is campaigned by the Ellstrom family of Seattle, who have been racing hydroplanes since 1994 and have won two national titles. The team’s driver is J.W. Myers of Burien.
Another boat expected to be in the thick of things will be the U-11 Miss DiJulio presents J&D’s, which is based in Edmonds. The boat turned in the fastest competition lap at the Tri-Cities last weekend and will be driven by Tom Thompson of Cambridge, Md.
The U-21 Miss Albert Lee Appliance is expected to be on hand as well, after suffering damage in the Tri-Cities last weekend when it threw a propeller and lost its rudder. Brian Perkins of North Bend will drive the Maple Valley-based boat.
Rounding out the field will be the U-99.9 KISW Miss Rock powered by Carstar, which is based in Kirkland, and driven by Greg Hopp of Lake Stevens. Also on hand will be the 440 Bucket List Racing entry out of Sammamish, which will be driven by Dustin Echols of Sultan.
The world’s fastest boats have a long tradition of racing on Lake Washington. The sport came to the city in 1951 after the legendary Slo-mo-shun IV went to Detroit the year before and won the prestigious Gold Cup race. The races have been an annual staple of the summer season ever since.
For an updated schedule and ticket information, go to the Seafair website at seafair.com.
– Written by Andrew Muntz