The oldest trophy in motorsports racing is coming to the Tri-Cities in July: the Gold Cup hydroplane race, which dates to 1904.
H1 Unlimited Chairman Steve David and the Tri-Cities Water Follies announced Monday that HAPO Credit Union will sponsor the Gold Cup, marking 50 years of hydroplane racing on the Columbia River.
Mike Denslow, Water Follies VP, told the Tri-City Herald he explains the prestige of the Gold Cup to friends like this.
“Imagine we live in Phoenix and we have the Fiesta Bowl every year,” Denslow said. “Now that’s a big event. But then I say we want to host the Super Bowl. Then they understand.”
For 2015, the Gold Cup replaces the annual Columbia Cup regatta.
Tri-Cities first hosted the Gold Cup in 1973, and again in 1975, 1977, and 1984. Detroit has held exclusive rights to hosting the Gold Cup since 1990.
For hydro fans, the biggest difference they’ll see is more racing. The Gold Cup is more of an endurance race, with an extra set of preliminary heats and longer overall distance. A typical Tri-Cities race comprises seven heats. The Gold Cup will range between nine and 13 heats, depending on the number of entrants.
And because of its prestige – and higher prize money – the Gold Cup could lure more entrants than usual. Expect to see more than a dozen hydros kicking up roostertails.
Thunderboat fans are hoping the entrants include Ed Cooper’s piston-powered speedster, beached for several years in a dispute with previous H1 leadership.
David said of the Tri-Cities, “They always do a good job. They always do it right. And they always ask, ‘What can we do better?’”
The HAPO Gold Cup takes place July 24-26.