(July 2015) – In a deal reached on June 21, the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series will race in Detroit in late August, continuing the longest-running tradition of racing on the Detroit River. The United Auto Workers and General Motors signed a sponsorship deal with Detroit Riverfront Events Inc. to stage the race Aug. 21-23.
According to various news agency reports, the race will take place between Belle Isle and the Detroit mainland over a 2.5-mile course, in the same location where past APBA Gold Cup contests raced.
H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Chairman Steve David confirmed the race stop to the Detroit Free press, adding that it will be known as the UAW-GM Spirit of Detroit Thunderfest and it will be “action packed with no down time to make sure the fans have a great experience.”
“When the DRRA (Detroit River Regatta Association) disbanded, Mark Weber, Bruce Madej, Doug Bernstein and myself figured we had to find a way to keep Unlimited racing going on the Detroit River,” David to the newspaper. “Really, failure was not an option. It was important to bring the race back since it had been a part of the city for more than seventy straight years.”
“We’re bringing the Grand Prix boats back for the first time in nearly 15 years and also adding F2 Tunnel Boats, V6 Mercury Outboards that are 16-to-17 feet long, go 130 mph and turn on a dime. It’s going to be a blast.”
2015 Madison Regatta
• July 1: WORX Street Dance. 8 p.m. on Vaughn Drive.
• For admission wristbands and more information, visit www.MadisonRegatta.com.
• July 2: Madison Regatta/Belterra Golf Tournament. 10 a.m. at Belterra Casino Resort golf course.
• July 2-4: Music on the River. At Fireman’s Park.
• July 2: 5 p.m. - midnight featuring The Page Left Blank (5:30-6:30 p.m.); Derick Howard (7-8 p.m.); Chris Jesse & The Outsiders (8:30-9:45 p.m.); Jimmy Mundane & the Unknown Insanes (10:15-11:45 p.m.)
• July 3: 5 p.m. - midnight featuring Hotwired (5-6:45 p.m.); Country Bourne (7:15-8:45 p.m.); Tim Pearson & Jordan Antoine Wilson (9-9:30 p.m.); J.D. Shelburn (9:30 p.m. - midnight)
• July 4: 5 p.m. - midnight featuring Power Plant (5:15-6:15 p.m.); The Weekend Classic (6:45-7:45 p.m.); Nick Dittmeier & the Sawdusters (8:15-9:45 p.m.); Elephant Room (10:30 p.m. - midnight)
• July 2: Rockin the Riverfront. 8 p.m. at the Regatta VIP tent on the riverfront with The Jimmy Davis Band. Charge $5. Must be 21 or over.
• July 3-4: Remote controlled boats. Noon at JPG’s Kruger Lake.
• July 3: Madison Regatta Parade. 7 p.m. on Main Street. Sponsors: City of Madison and River Valley Financial Bank.
• July 4: Jane Jacobs Memorial Madison Courier Run/Walk. 8 a.m. at Madison Consolidated High School parking lot.
• July 4: Volleyball Tourney (tentative). At Jaycee Park.
• July 4: Grote Industries Air Shows. By aerobatic pilot Brett Hunter. Show times TBA.
• July 4: Fireworks Spectacular on the Riverfront. 10 p.m. Sponsors: American Legion Post 9, City of Madison, Jefferson Co. Board of Tourism.
David said all 12 Unlimited teams have committed to the Detroit race, which will be webcast for free on ESPN3.
Two Michigan-based drivers are scheduled to compete in the event: Cal Phipps (Sterling Heights) in the U-27 Wiggins Racing entry and rookie Patrick Sankuer (Chesterfield Township) in the U-12 Centurion Racing Miss DiJulio.
Hydroplanes have been a part of Motor City sports for a century. The first sanctioned race took place in 1915 and the first Gold Cup race in 1916. Since then at least one hydroplane race has been contested every year in Detroit, with only a five-year hiatus (1941-45) due to World War II.
The addition of a Detroit race increases the season to five races, but it still ranks as the shortest the sport has fielded since the 1950s.
Spirit of Qatar to run as Ellstrom Elam Plus
Erick Ellstrom in late June announced that his boat’s sponsorship with Qatar would not extend to the season opener in Madison, so the boat will race there as Ellstrom Elam Plus.
The boat has run as Spirit of Qatar since 2010 after striking a sponsorship deal with the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. The boat won the 2011 National High Points title under that name.
The Federation also announced earlier this year that it would no longer sponsor the Oryx Cup-UIM World Championship race at Doha, Qatar, and as a result the event has been cancelled for this year.
Former Oberto-Miss Madison crew chief Mike Hanson heads Ellstrom’s team. He left the Madison team in March 2014.
WAVE 3’s Gee, Partee to serve as 10K starters
The Madison Courier Memorial Firecracker 10K Walk and Run has been held for 36 years, and this year’s event has been renamed after the newspaper’s late publisher and race organizer Jane Jacobs. Jacobs died last spring after a battle with cancer.
Jacob’s son, Curt, has since taken over as publisher, according to a newspaper account published recently.
The event will be held Saturday morning, July 4, beginning at the Madison Consolidated High School. The race begins at 8 a.m. Dawne Gee, a news anchor at WAVE 3 TV in Louisville, and former MCHS athlete Jordan Partee will serve as honorary starters.
Partee finished fourth in the Indiana High School Athletic Association state finals in the 160-pound weight class in wrestling last year. He placed sixth in the state long jump in 2012 and tied the school record for most touchdowns in a game in 2013 with five. He now runs track and field at Indiana Tech.
Gee joined WAVE 3 in 1994 and has worked to promote many Louisville area charities. Most recently, she overcame a fight with brain cancer.
Regatta Parade theme is tribute to movie ‘Madison’
The Madison Regatta Parade theme marking the 10-year anniversary of the release of the movie “Madison” will live up to its name by featuring three men who played key roles in the making of the film. Madison’s Tony Steinhardt, actor Mark Fauser and associate producer Greg Malone will ride in the parade as the grand marshals.
The movie is loosely based on the true story of Miss Madison Unlimited hydroplane driver Jim McCormick’s 1971 Gold Cup victory – which he won despite large odds against the more heavily funded Miss Budweiser and other teams of the time.
Steinhardt, who was the team manager of that 1971 Miss Madison team, served as a consultant to the movie team, while Fauser, of Marion, Ind., played the fictional character “Travis” and continues to work in film. Malone operates a production company in Indianapolis.
The Madison Regatta Parade is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Friday, July 3.
Regatta to offer tent camping this year
The Madison Regatta Committee has renewed its overnight camping program and this year will sell tent camping sites along the east end of Vaughn Drive on both sides of the Milton-Madison Bridge. It marks the first time in decades that overnight camping has been allowed at the Regatta.
The camping spots are 20x25 feet in size, and 60 will be available for $100 each, Regatta officials recently announced. They will be primitive sites, with no electrical hookups. Camp fires will be allowed in fire rings only and not on the bare ground.
Now that the race course has been restored to its original 2.5-mile length and running under the bridge, campers will have a front row seat from their camping spot.
Camping was a Regatta tradition for many race fans up until the mid 1980s, when it was discontinued due to problems with violence and other issues.
The Regatta Committee also announced that an RV parking area will be available on the far east end of Vaughn Drive at $10 per day. Vendors will be present to offer race fans food and beverages.
These tent and RV camping spots must be reserved in advance by visiting the Regatta Office on Vaughn Drive. No online orders will be accepted.
Bridge Pedway to be closed during racing
On June 25, the City of Madison announced that the Milton-Madison Bridge will be closed during certain times over the Madison Regatta Weekend to ensure the safety of residents. Kentucky State Police will be monitoring the Milton-Madison Bridge during the Madison Regatta weekend and closing the bridge to motorist and pedestrian traffic during boat races, fireworks and the air shows.
The pedestrian walkway will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, July 3; from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m,. Saturday, July 4; and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 5. The sidewalk must be closed to the public due to safety concerns from the insurance carriers.
Pedestrians will be allowed to walk across the bridge at other times, but they will not be allowed to enter the Madison side of the river in the Regatta grounds without a Regatta wristband, according to Regatta Committee President Jeff Chandler.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: info@RoundAbout.bz.