H1 Unlimited Championship Series set to run exhibition to test in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The fastest race boats in the world will return here for the first time in nearly 43 years on Friday, May 20 when a small fleet of unlimited hydroplanes take to the Columbia River.

The event is officially tabbed as the Visit Vancouver Washington H1 Exhibition presented by May Awning & Patio.

H1 Unlimited is set to begin its spring training for the 2022 season in Vancouver with as many as four boats running for the first time after the winter offseason. The H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series begins June 25-26 with the Gold Cup in Guntersville, Ala.

“Unlimited hydroplanes are 28-foot-long race boats capable of running top-end speeds approaching 200 m.p.h.,” said Race Director Nelson Holmberg, a Vancouver-native who’s been involved in the sport since they last ran in Vancouver in September 1979. “They’re spectacular to see, not just the speeds these impressive machines travel at, but also the stunning 150-plus foot long roostertail the propellers throw into the air behind them. It’s a beautiful display of the powers of water and mechanical engineering.”

Boats in town for the Vancouver exhibition will be on public display from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Thursday, May 19, before moving into the pits to be set up for Friday’s test day. The Thursday display will be on Phil Arnold Way in downtown Vancouver at the Block 24 parking lot, south of the Hilton Vancouver. Enter at 4th Street off of Columbia Way. The pits, being on private property, will not be open to the public.

The Boat Showcase Public Viewing allows people to get up close with four Unlimited Hydroplanes and talk to teams and drivers. Merchandise will be available for purchase, as well as autographs and more information about the H1 Racing Series and 2022 schedule. Participating teams include:

  • U8 – Strong Racing – Sponsor Visit Tri-Cities. Driver J. Michael Kelly
  • U11 – Unlimited Racing Group – Sponsor May Awning & Patio. Driver Jamie Nilsen
  • U40 – Bucket List Racing - Sponsor Beacon Plumbing. Driver Dave Villwock
  • U-91 – Miss Madison Racing – Sponsor Goodman Real Estate. Driver Jeff Bernard

Hydroplanes are not completely new to Vancouver, as a similar exhibition was held on the Columbia River on September 23, 1979. Like that exhibition, the 2022 version will be considered a test opportunity for not only teams⁠—but also to see whether Vancouver is a suitable site for an official race on the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series in future years.

The 2-mile oval race course will be on the Columbia River between Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 with the start-finish line located near Beaches Restaurant & Bar. The Coast Guard plans to establish a safety zone around the exhibition, for the safety of the maritime public, between 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. No vessels will be permitted to anchor or loiter within the zone and all vessels desiring to transit the zone must contact the Coast Guard on Channel 16 to request permission. The zone will extend between Hayden Island and the Vancouver side of the Columbia River, starting at approximately 700 yards east of the Interstate Bridge and extending to the east end of Hayden Island.

Spectators are asked to watch from the Columbia River Waterfront Renaissance Trail between Who Song & Larry’s and Beaches Restaurant & Bar. Parking for the event will be limited to special zones in fields by the entrance to the Old Apple Tree across from Waterfront Park on SW Columbia Way (weather permitting), at Waterfront Park by Who Song & Larry’s, and public parking. Restaurant, business, and residence parking is for customers and residents only.

Spectators should expect to see the hydroplanes take to the water one at a time for their test runs. For more information about the Vancouver H1 Exhibition events please visit visitvancouverwa.com/h1-exhibition.

The 2022 H1 Unlimited schedule includes a Spring Training testing day in Kennewick on Friday, June 3, the Gold Cup in Guntersville June 25-26, the Indiana Governor’s Cup in Madison, Ind. July 1-3, the HAPO Columbia Cup in Kennewick, Wash., July 29-31; Seafair in Seattle, Aug. 5-7 and Bayfair in San Diego, Sept. 16-18.

About Visit Vancouver Washington
Visit Vancouver Washington is the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Vancouver and the surrounding Clark County, Washington. The nonprofit competitively markets the region as a place to visit for leisure, a venue for sports events, and a destination for meetings, conventions, and group travel. The organization’s primary mission is to increase visitor spending in the area to support and encourage economic growth and vitality to Vancouver, Washington’s valued local community. For more information call 360-750-1553 or visit www.VisitVancouverWA.com.

About H1 Unlimited
The H1 Unlimited Racing Series features competition among the fastest boats in the world. The hydroplanes that compete in the H1 series careen across the water at speeds reaching 200 m.p.h., throw a spectacular plume of spray high into the air, and give race fans the “Greatest Show on H2O.”

The 2022 season will begin with the exhibition in Vancouver then will move to Guntersville, Ala., where the Gold Cup, the oldest trophy in American motorsports, will be contested on June 25-26. The remainder of the season also will tentatively include stops in Madison, Ind., on July 1-3; the Tri-Cities, Wash., on July 29-31; Seattle on August 5-7; and San Diego on September 16-18. For more information, visit www.h1unlimited.com.