SEATTLE--The H1 Unlimited turbine hydroplanes, the fastest boats in the world, will continue their 2017 campaign with a stop this weekend on Lake Washington for the 2017 Albert Lee Appliance Cup (August 4-6). A victory in Seattle is always one of the most sought after achievements for boat owners and drivers because the Pacific Northwest is home to many of the race teams.
The Unlimiteds, which are about 30 feet long and capable of speeds approaching 200 miles per hour, will have testing and qualifying runs on Friday and racing action on both Saturday and Sunday.
Close competition has been a feature of the boats for the past several years and that will be the case again as the boats compete on Lake Washington. 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. While the boat is owned by the citizens of Madison, Indiana, the team’s sponsor is based in the Seattle area and its driver, Jimmy Shane, lives in Renton, Washington.
Also looking for a win will be the U-9 Les Schwab Tires, which won the Seattle race last year. The boat is based in Kent, Washington, and will be driven by Michigan native Andrew Tate, who was last year’s Rookie of the Year.
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 long-time sponsor Rob Graham during the off-season and was completely rebuilt at its shop in Milton, Washington. The team’s driver, J. Michael Kelly, is from Bonney Lake, Washington.
Making its first appearance in the 2017 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 will be J.W. Myers of Burien, Washington.
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, Washington. The boat turned in the fastest competition lap at the Tri-Cities last weekend and will be driven by Tom Thompson of Cambridge, Maryland.
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. The boat is based in Maple Valley, Washington, and is driven by Brian Perkins of North Bend, Washington.
Rounding out the field will be the U-99.9 KISW Miss Rock powered by Carstar, which is based in Kirkland, Washington, and driven by Greg Hopp of Lake Stevens, Washington. Also on hand will be the 440 Bucket List Racing entry out of Sammamish, Washington, which will be driven by Dustin Echols of Sultan, Washington.
The world’s fastest boats have a long tradition of racing on Lake Washington in Seattle. 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 www.seafair.com.
Written by Andrew Muntz