Miss Madison begins H1 championship defense in Alabama

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By Dave Taylor

The community-owned Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison team will begin the defense of their 2017 H1 Unlimited National Championship this weekend when the Unlimited hydroplane fleet opens the 2018 racing season.

The season-opening race marks a return after 50 years to the sunny shores of Guntersville Lake in northeast Alabama, where for many years the Dixie Cup race was contested in the 1960s. An earlier Miss Madison hydro won the event in 1965 with retired driver George “Buddy” Byers at the wheel. The lake is also the site of the mile straightaway record for a propeller-driven hydroplane powered by a piston engine of 200.419 miles per hour, set by the late Roy Duby driving Miss U.S. 1 in April 1962.

The winner of the last race held in Guntersville was the late Bernie Little’s Miss Budweiser, driven by the late Bill Sterett Sr. That hull, now in the possession of the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Seattle, has been transported to Guntersville and will be on hand for display purposes at this weekend’s race.

The Guntersville Lake Hydrofest will feature an expected fleet of seven Unlimited hydroplanes and nine Grand Prix World automotive-powered craft in addition to stock outboard demonstrations. Unlimiteds expected to compete for the Southern Cup include the U-1 Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison, driven by Jimmy Shane; U-9 Delta/ RealTrac, Andrew Tate; U-11 Reliable Diamond Tools presents J&D’s, Tom Thompson; U-21 Darrell Strong presents Payne West Insurance, Brian Perkins; U-27 Greater Gadsden presents Chase Building Group, Cal Phipps; U-99.9 CarStar Powers Miss Rock, Aaron Salmon; and 440 Bucket List Racing, Dustin Echols.

Grand Prix World competitors are expected to be: GP-1 Miss Lucas Oil, driven by Greg Hopp; GP-15 Happy Go Lucky, Jerry Hopp; GP-18 Hopp Racing, Steve Huff; GP-20 Blown Income Racing, Ed Preston; GP-27 Wiggins Racing, Cal Phipps; GP-43 Jim Martin Starship, Tony Black;

GP-52 Griggs Racing, John Grigg; GP-55 Cabo Marine, Jamie Nilsen; GP-74 Premonition, Rob Hall.

Most of those teams competing in Alabama this weekend are expected to be on hand for the Madison Regatta on July 6-8.