Columbia River test draws four Unlimiteds
Four H1 Unlimited teams, a vintage hydroplane and a Grand Prix World boat each hit the water for a test session on the Columbia River in the Tri-Cities, Washington, on Friday. The test was the first on-water action H1 boats have seen this spring and just one of two opportunities to test before racing begins Fourth of July weekend in Madison. The U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank/Miss Madison took every chance to get on the water during the session and driver Jimmy Shane was pleased with the outcome. “We’re trying hardware changes that we normally wouldn’t try race weekend. Skid fin locations, maybe a different kind of skid fin and a new propeller like we just tried out. It was really good to find out that we need to work on that propeller,” Shane said. “It was a really, really good test session because we’re learning a lot. That’s what we need to do every time we put the boat on the water. You have to learn, you have to find out what works and what doesn’t work and what you can improve on.” Three other H1 teams - the U-9 Les Schwab Tires, the U-21 Payne West Insurance and the U-440 Bucket List Racing - also the opportunity to knock off some postseason rust. Andrew Tate, driver of the U-9 Les Schwab Tires, was also pleased with the session. “I don’t think we’re missing a beat. The guys worked real hard during the offseason and made a few changes,” Tate said. “Hopefully we’re a little ahead of where we left off last year.” In addition to the four H1 boats, two other craft tested on the Columbia. The newly refurbished vintage Pay ’n Pak - which ended its racing career in 1988 as the Holset Miss Madison - hit the water on several different occasions with Dr. Ken Muscatel and former Miss Madison driver Mike Hanson at the wheel. Hanson, who spearheaded the rebuild effort, reported an oil leak in the engine but the problem was fixed. Greg Hopp also took his automotive-powered GP-15 boat onto the Columbia River. There will be another test session at Luke Guntersville, Alabama, on Saturday, June 17. Both the Miss HomeStreet Bank and the U-27 Wiggins Racing are expected to participate in that event. The 2017 H1 season kicks off June 30-July 2 on the Ohio River in Madison with the annual running of the Madison Regatta Indiana Governor’s Cup. The non-points event will feature four boats, the HomeStreet Bank, Wiggins Racing, Les Schwab Tires and U-11 Unlimited Racing Group. The first points race will be back on the Columbia River in the Tri-Cities July 28-30. The boats will then run at Seattle Aug. 4-6, in Detroit for two races Aug. 25-27 and then at San Diego Sept. 15-17.