SAN DIEGO— It may lack the wild card variables of previous H1 Unlimited Hydroplane National High Points Championship finales, but this weekend’s season San Diego Bayfair race should be another addition to the 2015 highlight reel.
An 11 boat fleet is expected to contest for the race championship, and crown the 2015 National High Points Champion represents much more excitement than other races on Mission Bay.
This year there is a more representative group of boat teams capable of winning the race title. Jimmy Shane in the U-1 Oberto Beef Jerky has a seemingly unbeatable 626 point lead for the a high points championship over J Michael Kelly in the U-5 Graham Trucking, but the recent deck-to-deck battles with Kelly –the defending Bayfair champion– pose a huge threat for Shane to take his third win of the 2015 season.
Shane and Kelly have had two epic confrontations during the last two races in Seattle and Detroit. Kelly won the race on Lake Washington while Shane took the win on the Detroit River. (See our Video page to watch them from an on-board perspective)
If those two teams have any problems, the U-27 Dalton Industries boat with driver Cal Phipps and the U-9 811 Call Before You Dig Team RedDOT/Les Schwab has shown great improvement during the season. Add Jimmy King in the piston-powered U-3 Miss HomeStreet Bank, and Shane and Kelly will need to run near perfect heats to stay in front of the pack.
“I don’t know if this is the best racing unlimited hydroplane racing has witnessed, but it is the most competitive racing season I have ever been a part of,” said Shane who is looking for his second national high point title. “I have a points lead, but it isn’t over until it is over. I have to race smart, not make any silly mistakes and keep the boat running during each of the preliminary heats. If I can do that, I can let it all hang out in the championship final.”
Shane won his first national high point championship in Doha, Qatar last November. The Madison, Ind. community owned Oberto team has won five of the last seven H1 Unlimited Hydroplane High Point titles.
H1 testing and qualifying will take place Friday (Sept. 18th) with heat racing on both Saturday (Sept 19th) and Sunday (Sept. 20th). The three-day family festival featuring high-octane fun including music, beer gardens and a Military Appreciation Day is expecting one of the largest boat fleets in recent years with more than 80 teams competing in multiple classes on Mission Bay. For more information go to www.sandiegobayfair.org.
A FAREWELL TO THE OBERTO SPONSORSHIP: The H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Oberto sponsorship will come to an end Sunday afternoon at Bayfair. Oberto Brands, with the backing of Art, Dorothy and their son Larry Oberto, has sponsored an unlimited hydroplane since 1975. The very first Oberto-sponsored hydroplane was Bob Murphy’s veteran U-4. The hull had been built in 1962 as the Notre Dame and made its debut as Oh Boy! Oberto at the 1975 Tri-Cities (Washington) Gold Cup. Chuck Hickling at the wheel, the U-4 finished seventh in a 15-boat field.
Oberto has been the sponsor of the Madison, Ind. boat since 2000. During those 16-years as a sponsor, it has won 19 races including two Gold Cup titles and five H1 Unlimited Hydroplane National High Points boat championships (seven National High Point Driver Championships). Only Budweiser, Atlas Van Lines, Bardahl, Ellstrom Manufacturing, Pay ’n Pak and Thriftway have more wins as a sponsor than Oberto, and only Budweiser sponsored a single team longer. Larry Oberto announced that the boat would be known as the Oberto Beef Jerky for the final race.
NO U-96: Following the accident in Detroit, a delay in both the retrieval and then the arrival of the skid fin plus brackets lost in the accident at the UAW-GM Spirit of Detroit Hydrofest has made it impossible for the U-96 Ellstrom Elam Plus to be repaired in time for San Diego.
H1 UNLIMITED HYDROPLANE BAYFAIR FLEET:
U-1 Oberto Beef Jerky, Jimmy Shane
U-3 Miss HomeStreet Bank, Jimmy King
U-5 Graham Trucking, J. Michael Kelly
U-7 Graham Trucking II, Jesse Robertson
U-9 811 Call Before You Dig Team RedDOT/Les Schwab, Scott Liddycoat
U-11 Peters & May, Tom Thompson
U-12 Red Roof Inns presents Miss DiJulio, Patrick Sankuer, Jr.
U-18 Bucket List Racing, Kelly Stocklin
U-21 All Access Rentals, Brian Perkins
U-27 Dalton Industries, Cal Phipps
U-100 Miss CARSTAR, Kevin Eacret