‘Super Bowl of boat racing’ coming to Tri-Cities

Hydro boats race in HAPO Gold Cup on Columbia RiverTri-Cities is gearing up to host America’s oldest motorsports trophy race, the HAPO Gold Cup for hydroplanes, held on the Columbia River July 24-26.

Besides the featured 200-mph speedsters like Oberto, Graham Trucking, and Ellstrom Elam Plus, Gold Cup weekend includes racing between auto-powered Grand Prix hydros as well as exhibition runs by four vintage craft: Miss Budweiser, Atlas Van Lines, Miss Bardahl, and Miss Thriftway.

In an earlier blog I explained the prestige of the Gold Cup, which dates to 1904, and the differences fans will see compared with a standard race.

Tri-Cities has not hosted the Gold Cup since 1984, when Chip Hanauer won aboard Atlas Van Lines, the first time a turbine-powered hydro won powerboating’s premier trophy.

Fans go nuts at the sight and sound of the vintage hydros. With the roar of their huge piston aircraft engines echoing off hillsides for miles around, you understand how these craft earned the nickname “thunderboats.”
Miss Bardahl vintage hydro boatOwner-driver Dixon Smith throttled Miss Bardahl to a vintage-hydro record speed last year on the Columbia when he averaged 101.868 mph around the 2.5-mile oval course, hitting 165 mph on the straightaways. In contrast, when Miss Bardahl retired from racing in October 1965, it held the all-time competition lap record of 117.870 mph.

Learn more about the HAPO Gold Cup here.

by  Jon Osterberg

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