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After a weekend of meetings culminating in the Annual H1 Unlimited Awards Banquet on Saturday, Chairman Sam Cole announced that the 2014 racing schedule is complete. The seven race schedule will open with the Madison Regatta on July 5-6 and will include a return to the Diamond Cup in Coeur d’Alene (Aug. 29-31), followed by the domestic season ender on Sept. 12-14 at Bayfair in San Diego and a trip to Doha, Qatar for the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship on November 20-22. The season will also include stops in Detroit (July 11-13) for the prestigious American Power Boat Association Gold Cup and two races in Washington State, at Tri-Cities (July 25-27) and Seattle (Aug. 1-3).
Cole also announced a rule change designed to do away with the “Park and Start” starting procedure which had boats moving at a crawl before the start of heats in 2013. The new starting procedure will mandate that all drivers maintain a speed of at least 80 mph during the milling period before the start. Drivers who appear to be below that speed will receive a warning from the referee with additional warnings including penalties. There will be no “score-up buoy” but racing lanes must be established by the entrance to the final turn before the start.
Award winners announced Saturday evening at the Snoqualmie Casino East of Seattle included; Crew of the Year to U-11 Peters & May, Crew Chief of the Year to Jeff Campbell of U-9 Jones Racing, and Rookie of the Year to Jamie Nilsen who drove the U-48 Snoqualmie Casino at Seattle Seafair after qualifying as an Unlimited driver the previous week in the Tri Cities. Billy Schumacher was named owner of the year and the Fan Favorite award went to Greg Hopp.
The awards presentation ended with trophy presentations to the top three teams from 2013, beginning with Nate Brown and driver Kip Brown recognized for their third place finish in Season High Points with the U-95 Spirit of Qatar. Brown also drove the U-95 to victory in the 2013 Gold Cup.
They were followed by Miss Madison Racing Team Manager Charlie Grooms accepting the second place hardware on behalf of the Oh Boy! Oberto team and driver Steve David who retired at the end of the season.
Jimmy Shane joined his championship 2013 Graham Trucking team, owner Ted Porter and sponsor Rob Graham on stage and hoisted the Bill Muncey championship driver’s trophy, the new H1 perpetual team championship trophy and the Martini and Ross trophy signifying the Unlimited National Championship.
Shane will move to the Madison Racing team in 2014, succeeding David as driver of the Oh Boy! Oberto. J. Michael Kelly will drive the U-1 Graham Trucking on the 2014 tour.
Shane told the crowd and his former team, assembled behind him on stage, “The decision to leave this team was the most difficult one I have ever had to make. You guys have become my family and always will be.”