The weekend of hydroplane racing kicked off with a bang on Saturday morning when Jimmy Shane in the U-6 Homestreet Bank set a new course speed record not once, but three times. In three laps during qualifying, he increased his speed each time around the course and broke the previous record with each trip.
Final Qualifying Speeds
U-6 Miss HomeStreet- Jimmy Shane 162.442
U-11 J&D’s- Tom Thompson 156.983
U-12 Graham Trucking- J. Michael Kelly 154.506
440 Bucket List- Dustin Echols 150.082
U-7 Spirit of Detroit- Bert Henderson 149.385
U-98 Graham Trucking II- Corey Peabody 139.790
Jimmy Shane then went on to win the first H1 Unlimited Hydroplane heat race of the 2019 season. J. Michael Kelly in the U-12 Graham Trucking grabbed lane one with Shane on his outside. Kelly gave Shane a race as just a few boats lengths separated the two going into the final run to the finish line. Shane nipped Kelly at the finsih line for the win.
1. U-6 Jimmy Shane
2. U-12 J. Michael Kelly
3. U-11 Tom Thompson
4. 440 Dustin Echols
In the second heat of the day, it was J. Michael Kelly again nailing the start and holding off Bert Henderson in the U-7 Spririt of Detroit. Dustin Echols, who piloted the 440 to its own speed record on Friday with a qualifying leap exceeding 150mph, found himself in a tight race for third. Echols and U-98 Graham Trucking driver Corey Peadbody were side by side for much of the 2nd and 3rd lap. Echol managed to edge out Peabody to finish third.
IMAGE: H1 Unlimited
During the race, the 440 and U-12 rubbed against each other. Kelly said he had the inside lane and the 440 came over into his lane. He had no place to go. "That's racing," Kelly said. Both the 440 and 12 had damage to the boat. Crews were working in the pits to try to repair the damage.
1. U-12 J. Michael Kelly
2. U-7 Bert Henderson
3. 440 Dustin Echols
4. U-98 Corey Peabody
Grand Prix World
1. GP-20 Ed Preston
2. GP-55 Jamie Nilsen
3. GP-18 Kevin Eacret
1. GP-15 Greg Hopp
2. GP-55 Jamie Nilsen
DNF GP-27 Cal Phipps
DNF GP-52 John Grigg
J. Michael Kelly in the U-12 "Graham Trucking" topped today’s leader board with a top speed of 154.506 m.p.h. on what is dubbed the “fastest water in the South.” Kelly said, “It (boat) feels good. We have a fast boat and we need to keep doing what we are doing to maintain top qualifier tomorrow.”
Kelly whose team did not attend last year’s race in Guntersville said he is pleased with the team’s result having no data from last year’s race to fall back on.
“It’s nice to be on top but we will be looking to increase out speed in tomorrow’s qualifying,” Kelly said.
Another team that did not attend last year’s race, Bert Henderson, driving the U-7 “Spirit of Detroit”, followed Kelly. Henderson turned a qualifying speed of 149.385m.p.h. In the first H1 Unlimited hydroplane he has attended drove of Detroit.
Dustin Echols in the U-440 “Bucket List Racing” managed to qualify at 145.723 m.p.h., the fastest his boat has ever qualified.
Echols said, “ I am impressed with our speeds but I am more impresses at the consistence of all three qualifying laps we made on the 2-1/2 mile aqua oval.” He continued, “I got more in the boat for tomorrow.”
There was one other boat, U-98 “Graham Trucking American Dream” with Corey Peabody driving who attempted to qualify but lost power on the race and had to be towed in.
Peabody’s crew chief, Brooke Tyler, said, “the problem is definitely inside (power-train) and most likely the gear box but until we get a look at it we haven’t found the smoking gun.”
The remaining three H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series teams will have a chance to qualifying Saturday morning and today’s qualifiers will have chance up increase their speeds as well.
If the remaining hydroplanes qualify in the morning, race official say they will have four-hydroplane preliminary heats that lead up to Sunday’s six-hydroplane Southern Cup championship race.
H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series Qualifying
1) U-12 “Graham Trucking,” J. Michael Kelly, 154.506 m.p.h.
2) U-7 “Spirit of Detroit,” Bert Henderson, 149.385 m.p.h.
3) U-440 “Bucket List Racing,” Dustin Echols, 145.723 m.p.h.