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SNHL San Diego Bayfair Race Recap
SNHL San Diego Bayfair Race Recap
The conclusion of the inaugural SNHL Season would take place in paradise at sunny San Diego, CA where 17 drivers took to Mission Bay for the final race weekend of the season. Entering the weekend, the championship was all but sealed for Eddie Kanfoush in the Llumar Window Films who's dominance and consistency each and every weekend would pay off here at San Diego Bayfair. An intense battle for 2nd in national high points was set in stone between Nicholas Miller in the Les Schwab Tires and Cei Bowen in the Tide with 12 points separating the two entering the weekend. Nicholas Miller took the qualifying honors with his 5th pole position of the year in what has been a tremendous year for Les Schwab Tires in that regards. Electricity was in the air with every driver looking to close out the season with a victory on beautiful Mission Bay.
Tim Johnson would win the first heat of the day in the Pico American Dream, Nicholas Miller started off strong with a big heat 1B win over Eddie Kanfoush, and Kelsey Best flew the Spirit of Qatar to a heat 1C Victory. The Llumar Window Films would find its way back into the winner circle in 2A while his teammate, Cei Bowen, in the Tide would rebound from a penalty in 1B with a heat 2B win, and Matt Johnson would be victorious in 2C that saw only 2 boats finish. The Tide would get a crucial heat 3A win over the Beacon Plumbing driven by Adam Putich, the Albert Lee Appliance charged hard for a heat 3B win over the Les Schwab Tires, and Kanfoush would rack up another heat win on the season in 3C.
The final consolation heat of the inaugural SNHL season would consist of Cale Bruce in the U-10 Smokin' Joe's, Jeff Dewalt in the U-12 Graham Trucking, David Johnson in the U-20 Appian Jeronimo, KC Duncan in the U-60 Miss Thriftway, Kelsey Best in the U-96 Spirit of Qatar, and Tim Johnson in the U-100 Pico American Dream. Best would snag the inside lane and never looked back as his race was perfectly ran from the get-go. The Graham Trucking was the boat that came closest to challenging the Spirit of Qatar as Dewalt had a solid start from the outside, but would end up crashing out before he could finish. The Spirit of Qatar would be the final trailer boat of the year, with Tim Johnson ending up in 2nd place, Cale Bruce would place 3rd, David Johnson finished 4th, and both Jeff Dewalt and KC Duncan would not finish,
The San Diego Bayfair final heat would be one of the more peculiar final heats of the season with a lot of action happening in the final minutes before the start that dramatically changed the outcome of the final heat. The field of boats included the U-8 Llumar Window Films, U-8 The Tide, U-9 Les Schwab Tires, U-21 Albert Lee Appliance, U-37 Beacon Plumbing with Adam Putich making his first final appearance, U-1918 Oberto, and the U-96 Spirit of Qatar as the trailer. With under a minute to go before the start of the final heat and tensions running high, many drivers were eager to go for lane 1 in hopes to end the season on a positive note. One of those drivers who has had a roller coaster of a season was Mickey Washburn, who would pursue Eddie Kanfoush in cutting the course, but in doing so, would cut right in front of Cei Bowen in the Tide on the back stretch. Bowen would maintain control until Washburn over compensated on his correction, and ran into the back of the Llumar which rebounded his boat back into the way of the Tide as both boats would collide and crash out of the final heat.
Shortly after this incident, Putich thought he saw an opportunity to steal lane 1, but misjudged the amount of room he had as he struck a buoy and pitched out to Matt Johnson's lane, causing the Albert Lee to rollover. With all of the ensuing mayhem, 3 boats would make a legal start; DJ Miller in the Les Schwab, Eddie Kanfoush in the Llumar, and the trailer Kelsey Best in the Spirit of Qatar. Miller got a near perfect start on the outside with a bunch of boat speed over Kanfoush entering the 1st turn. 2 of the #1 qualifiers on the season would go into a 1 on 1 battle for the final race of the 2018 SNHL season. Miller would maintain a strong 1 roostertail lead from the outside as the Les Schwab Tires team have been awaiting this performance in a final all season long. Kanfoush would try every angle of attack on the course, but it was no match for Nicholas Miller in the Les Schwab Tires as he would claim the victory in the final race of the year at San Diego Bayfair. 2nd would go to Eddie Kanfoush in the Llumar Window Films, and 3rd place would be Kelsey Best in the Spirit of Qatar.
With a long awaited final heat win, Nicholas Miller would also secure 2nd place in national high points, just 74 points over Cei Bowen. Miller had proven time and again this season that he was the fastest driver on water with 5 top qualifier awards, but he finally achieved the greatest thrill of racing with a highly anticipated final heat win after coming through in the clutch. We caught up with Nicholas Miller and the Les Schwab Tires team after they had scored their first win in the SNHL at San Diego.
"Scoring the victory at San Diego was a dream come true! It felt liberating finally overcoming the mistakes I had made throughout the season and even the race itself. Going into the last race of the season, I was determined not to end the season winless, especially after coming co close at Detroit. In the final heat, I was committed to being patient and timing my own start and ignoring what other drivers were doing. This ended up putting me in the best position to capitalize on the incidents during the mill. Boat racing is a tricky balance between patience and aggressiveness, and patience definitely paid off this time. I'm glad I was able to end the season on the highest note I could. Hopefully I can carry this momentum into next season and compete for the championship title."
Eddie Kanfoush finished off the season like every other weekend that has led him to a national championship; consistently. While Kanfoush would come in 2nd in a destructive final heat, he had nothing to hang his hat on after securing a national title as well as being the overall weekend points winner for the 5th time this season. Kanfoush's season was beyond anyone's expectations as his clean, yet aggressive driving style paid off as the Llumar Window Films was the only boat to make every final this season. Even Eddie found himself surprised at the amount of success the Llumar team has had in the inaugural year as they walk away with the 1st ever SNHL National Championship.
"It’s absolutely incredible. Words can’t entirely describe it. The team worked so hard this season to make sure the boat was set up perfectly and I had to drive really hard and apply pressure in just about every race this year. Our goal at the start of the year was to do the best we can and I think we succeeded. Props to everyone else who raced this season as well. They definitely didn’t make it easy!"
Best would manage to survive the melee during the milling period as the trailer position provided a great benefit to the Spirit of Qatar. Knowing that a victory was virtually impossible, Best ran a clean, conservative final heat that secured him a spot on the podium for the final race of the year. While the Spirit of Qatar team was satisfied to end off the season on a solid 3rd place finish, Ellstrom Racing always has a championship state of mind as they didn't quite meet their goal for San Diego.
"We are always happy to get on the podium, especially from the trailer boat position. This being said, our goal this weekend was getting a race win and things didn't quite go our way. We were in position to win all three preliminary heats but getting taken out by a driver who'd already been DQ'd and tapping a buoy meant we had to fight once more to make it to the final. We have lots to work on this off-season and are really looking forward to next season...there were quite a few competitors out there just getting their feet wet this season and we expect the competition to increase as people get comfortable fighting for lanes and driving on the inside. Looking forward to the future of the series."
It was a bittersweet season-ender for Cei Bowen in the Tide as he never got the chance to really compete in the final heat after being taken out during the mill. Still, Bowen would end the season in the top 3 in points along with being the first ever SNHL Gold Cup winner in what was a hydroplane race for the ages. One of the fastest drivers in the fleet, Bowen has proven that he can be a threat at any given race site and that he can only improve from here on out after the inaugural SNHL Season.
"I wasn't too mad about the San Diego final. Mickey knew his situation and knew he had to get lanes 1 or 2 to win the race, just came in a little too hot. But I wanted to come into San Diego not worrying about points and just having fun during this race. Although the rough ending I will look to rebound in Season 2 by just practicing more. I think I showed my worth at the tracks even though making some mistakes. I think I showed I can run with this fast guys and be competitive. I'm just gonna do some more practice on starts and not worry too much on flying the boat since I think we will get new physics by the time season 2 rolls around. Biggest thing ending season 1 and going into season 2 is work on practicing more and not worry too much in the exhibitions since it's basically a big testing session."
Matt Johnson would fall victim to another drivers mistake in the final as a solid season would be shadowed by a DNS in the final heat of the season. The Go Fast Turn Left team had quite a spectacular year that saw them start the year outside the top 10 and finish in 4th place in points. Johnson quickly improved each and every race learning how to push the Albert Lee hull to its limits. With a massive win at Seafair from the trailer position, Matt Johnson has showcased that he can come through in the clutch to win races, even from the back. While the San Diego final will leave a sour taste in the mouth entering the off season, Matt Johnson will be a contender entering the 2nd SNHL season after his consistency on the year gave him a top 5 finish in the points standings.
"I was definitely disappointed with what happened in the final. I felt like I was in a really good spot to finish on the podium and end the season on a really high note. Even though the final was disappointing, the race as a whole went really well. I made a dumb mistake in my first heat that cost me a possible 1st or 2nd place finish but it was the first time all season that I won 2 preliminary heats so I was really happy about that. I think the biggest take away from San Diego, and the season as a whole, is that if I stick to my strategy and run my race I can be a threat to just about everyone on the course. It was a great season, I had a lot of fun, I learned a lot, and I can't wait for next year."
The Oberto team had its fair share of struggles this year which came as a shock to many considering Mickey Washburn was the last Hydromod champion. But with an entirely different game engine and much more complex physics, the inaugural SNHL season was a learning curve for many like Washburn. The Oberto performed exceptionally well at Bayfair, consistently finishing with 2 2nd's and a 3rd in the prelims to lock himself into the final heat. With the last final heat win of the year up for grabs, Washburn took the aggressive approach to secure the inside lane but it backfired. While the final race of the year ended in disappointment, Washburn still ended up 6th in points and has a lot to look forward to in season 2.
"Yeah It was great to be in the last 2 final heats of the year. But it’s going to be a long summer having to live with wrecking before the start and taking out another driver. I don’t know if I’ll be asked to drive the 1918 again or not. But whatever I’m driving I can’t wait for season 2."
With the final race of the inaugural SNHL season in the books, overall I have to say the 1st season of the Saturday Night Hydro League was a success considering the ongoing changes to the game. I've seen improvements made from every driver this season as well as major strides being made with the game overall. Regardless of what happens in future seasons/leagues, I am thankful for having the opportunity to play a hydroplane video game that I only imagined in my dreams when I was young. Huge shoutout to Scott Przybylski for making the most enjoyable video game I have ever played, and a shoutout to all of the drivers who participated in the inaugural SNHL season. I'm glad I have gotten to know all of you guys well and that our community is strong because of our passion for hydroplane racing. Great things are to come for the future of this game and the Hydrosim community!
Congratulations Eddie Kanfoush on winning the 2018 SNHL National Championship!
SNHL Gold Cup Race Recap
SNHL Gold Cup Race Recap
The most anticipated race of the season had a staggering 19 boats for the initial race with Nicholas Miller in the U-9 Les Schwab Tires coming out as top qualifier with a blazing speed of 164.222. This would be the 4th pole that Nicholas Miller would capture on the season, further proving that his abilities to push the Les Schwab Tires to the limit is second to none. The Detroit River introduced a monumental challenge to all the attending drivers with its unpredictable water conditions, superspeedway length, and the always infamous roostertail turn. Many drivers could not tame the dangerous Detroit River as DNF's were common throughout the day.
In the first flight of heats, we saw Eddie Kanfoush get the heat 1A victory, Kelsey Best powered his Spirit of Qatar to a heat 1B win, Matt Johnson started his Gold Cup weekend on the right note with a 1C win over the Les Schwab Tires, and Cei Bowen in the Tide capture the win in what would be a 2 boat heat. The 2nd flight saw an impressive win by Saxon Hopp in 2A, piloting the Miss Pontiac to a 1st place after penalties accrued to the rest of the field in his debut. Chris Porten would survive a destructive 2B for a big heat win, Kanfoush would continue to rack up championship points with a 1st place in 2C, and Nicholas Miller would be the lone survivor in an anti-climatic heat 2D.
Scott Przybylski chalked up a defiant heat 3A victory in the U-22 Matrix Systems, Kanfoush racked up another heat win in 3B, Miller bested Bowen by getting a solid heat 3C win, and Tim Johnson would bring the Pico American Dream their first heat finish and victory at Detroit. The last flight of heats would be essential for any driver that had hopes to automatically make it into the Gold Cup final as the top 5 in weekend points would advance. Bowen would get an important 4A win over his Wurster teammate, Jeff Dewalt driving the U-12 Graham Trucking for Rob Graham would notch a heat 4B win, and Nicholas Miller would tally up his 3rd preliminary heat win in 4C.
5 boats would be eligible for the consolation as the field would consist of Saxon Hopp in the Lealand Unlimited U-15 Miss Pontiac, Matt Johnson in the GFTL U-21 Albert Lee Appliances, Kallen Washburn making his debut in the U-25 Superior Racing, Peyton Hopp in the Schumacher Racing's U-88 Degree Men, and Kelsey Best in the Ellstrom Racing U-96 Spirit of Qatar. The start saw the Spirit of Qatar and Miss Pontiac both make an excellent start, but the detrimental Detroit River would claim Hopp as its first victim after Hopp crashed out after the start/finish line. Best would go on to dominate from wire to wire with Peyton Hopp in hot pursuit the whole race. Coming to the roostertail turn, the Degree Men would overfly it and nearly blow over as Best would lock in to the Gold Cup final as the trailer. Peyton Hopp would go on to finish 2nd and Washburn rounded out the field in 3rd as Johnson and Hopp would DNF in the consolation.
Both of the Johnson brothers had their fare share of struggles at the Gold Cup with Matt being unable to finish in the conny, and Tim unable to make the consolation based on his weekend points. For Tim Johnson in the Pico American Dream, practice is crucial at Detroit if you hope to win the immortal Gold Cup and a lack thereof put a big roadblock in his chances. "A couple weeks ago the PICO team moved their shop to the tri cities and unfortunately that made all of the logistics of practicing and getting comfortable with the boat on that rough water extremely difficult. When you haven't practiced surviving the Detroit, there is no forgiveness."
For Matt Johnson in the Albert Lee Appliance, the monstrous Detroit river impacted his weekend performance at a crucial point in the season. "I think it was a bit of both, but mostly the river itself. It's a beast that is not easy to tame and I know I wasn't the only one that struggled with it. The two heats that I actually finished I picked up a first and a second so I know I can be fast there but I don't think I was really ready for how rough it was. Overall it was kind of a disappointing weekend for the U-21 team but all we can do now is move on and get ready for San Diego."
As the sun began to set in Detroit, Michigan, 6 beautiful hydroplanes were lined up on the docks with 6 of the most talented hydroplane drivers in the world behind the wheel. The 2018 Gold Cup lineup would have Eddie Kanfoush in the U-8 Llumar Window Films, Cei Bowen in the U-8 Tide, Nicholas Miller in the U-9 Les Schwab Tire, Chris Porten in the U-25 Pay 'n' Pak, Kelsey Best (trailer) in the U-96 Spirit of Qatar, and Mickey Washburn in the U-1918 Oberto. The 5 minute gun would sound as all 6 competitors would seek out their timing marks and fight for lanes to put themselves in the best position to win the prestigious Gold Cup. As the clock dipped below 1 minute, lanes would be established with the Les Schwab in lane 1, the Tide in 2, Llumar in 3, Pay 'n' Pak trailing back in 4, Oberto with momentum in 5 and Best starting 5 seconds back. Coming to the start, Oberto seemed to have nailed it initially but would jump the gun by mere milliseconds which would put him a lap down. Bowen and Miller would nail the start with Kanfoush close behind in lane 3. The Tide would have the lead entering turn 1 with the Les Schwab slowly chipping away at a half roostertail lead as Bowen would lead lap 1. Little did everyone know that this would be the beginnings of the best race of the season.
The Tide showcased significant top end speed on the outside but Miller in the Les Schwab would keep in pace and have the shorter course on the inside. Towards the end of lap 2, Best would stuff the Spirit of Qatar in the roostertail turn while Porten would lose control of the boat and blowover as that would knock both racers out of the Gold Cup. The Tide and Les Schwab continued to put on one hell of a battle as Miller would grab the lead out of the Belle Isle turn. Both boats were mere feet apart down the backstretch as they charged hard into the roostertail turn with both boats just about making contact at the end of lap 3. Bowen would recapture the lead out of the turn but only hold it on the straightaway as Miller would retake the lead out of Belle Isle. Deck to deck, edge of your seat racing as both boats were vigorously flying their boats into the roostertail turn. Bowen barely had the lead entering the final lap of the Gold Cup, as these 2 drivers pushed their talent and skills to the limit. Side by side down the back stretch they went with Bowen having a slight advantage on the outside entering the final turn of the Gold Cup. Out of the turn, Miller would swing out into the roostertail and go vertical momentarily, but manage to save it as Cei Bowen in the Tide would go on to win the first ever SNHL Gold Cup.
We caught up with Cei Bowen shortly after the race and discussed how surreal it was for him to win the Gold Cup after a roller-coaster of a season. "It wasn't the weekend I planned for but it was my best weekend. I had a penalty earlier in the day that kind of made me upset but I had to over come from that and put up a second and two first in the heats. From there it was all smooth sailing. Went into the final super nervous but was comfortable. I changed up my mill completely and for the first at Detroit tried to troll. I hadn't practiced for trolling at all so I just followed DJ and knew what I was capable of from lane 2. I stuck to my main timing marks and went off where I was for them. Once the race started I had to make sure to fly it as much as possible but not over fly it and have to slow down. I ran the best race that I could've. One of the down falls was that I had a couple buoys missing because of net code and couldn't hold him as tight as I would've liked to. But by far the most fun and memorable race I've had all season. Happy to win the first SNHL Gold Cup."
You had to give props to Nicholas Miller in the Les Schwab who put it all on the line at the Gold Cup and managed to put on a show for the Detroit fans with a close 2nd place finish. After coming home just shy of a Gold Cup victory, Miller had no sense of disappointment after a thrilling hydroplane race. "That race was one of the most fun races I've ever experienced. It was a great battle and shows exactly what boat racing is all about. It was exactly the type of on-the-water battle that every hydro fan loves to see. Obviously I would've loved to win the Gold Cup, but I'm ultimately hear to have fun, and I had an absolute blast. I hope we can have more races in the future that are even more exciting. Can't wait for San Diego, where I can hopefully end the season on a high-note." Miller would also go on to win the weekend on points with 1900, the first driver ever to beat Kanfoush on overall weekend points.
While Eddie Kanfoush would be the odd-man out in the intense final heat finishing in 3rd, he has all but secured the national high points championship after another successful points weekend. While the Gold Cup trophy was out of reach for Kanfoush, he was still proud of the solid weekend he gathered at Detroit. "I was pretty pleased with the Gold Cup. It was a big points weekend and I came away with 3 heat wins and a good amount of points, and I feel very confident with my points situation. I was disappointed in the start I had in the final because the boat felt very strong, but I will definitely take a third and watching my teammate win the Gold Cup in an amazing final. Overall, we [The Llumar Team] can't be too disappointed with how the weekend went."
Mickey Washburn in the Oberto has had an up and down to this point, but managed to make his first final appearance after a consistent showing in the prelims. Even with canard wing issues as well as jumping the gun in the final, Washburn survived the adversity of the Detroit River with a 4th place finish. "It was a good weekend. And even though we jumped the gun in the final and after the first lap the canard issue started up again, we still finished fourth in the Gold Cup. It’s not a final heat win but it was our best weekend of the season and we’re happy with that."
The Pay 'n' Pak and Chris Porten found himself in his first final appearance of the season at the Gold Cup after displaying a consistent strategy on a rough Detroit course. The Pak would suffer from the mighty Detroit River with a blowover in the final, as he had hoped to meet his expectations of finishing all the heats he started in. "I wouldn't exactly say I exceeded my expectations since I had hoped to finish all my races. I was disqualified from heat 4B due to a brain fart because I wasn’t sure if I had clearance to enter the course after cutting. I wasn’t using a spotter and didn’t realize where I was on the course. I went through a DMZ, which resulted in a DQ. Then the final resulted in a wreck, not of my doing I don’t think. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the other prelim races, including a win in heat 2B and how I did as a whole. Don’t forget I was racing with a major Cold that I got for Christmas, which I still haven’t recovered from yet. I just wish I had gotten points in all the races. Maybe the Bill Muncey Cup in San Diego will be different if I can get rid of this Cold by then."
The Spirit of Qatar would also be a victim of the rough Gold Cup final as he violently stuffed the boat entering the tight roostertail turn. It was an unfortunate ending for the Spirit of Qatar team after fighting their way into the final heat via consolation heat. For many drivers like Best, the Detroit River is by far one of the toughest courses to tame. "It's incredibly difficult, especially when your driver stayed out partying too late the night before! Our team was disappointed once again by our performance in Detroit, especially that of our driver. If we don't see an improvement in San Diego we may be looking for other options next season."
The Gold Cup by far exceeded the expectations of many with Cei Bowen and Nicholas Miller throwing down one unforgettable final heat race for 5 laps straight. Bowen would come out on top with all the glory as the 1st ever SNHL Gold Cup Champion. We are sure that drivers and fans of hydroplane racing alike will remember the 2018 SNHL Gold Cup for years to come. With the excitement level through the roof after a monumental Gold Cup, we look to continue that feeling at San Diego Bayfair. The final stop of the first season of the Saturday Night Hydroplane League is upon us, we will see you all at San Diego, California!
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SNHL Gold Cup Preview
It's been regarded as the most prestigious trophy in the sport of hydroplane racing, the hardware that every hydro racer dreams of achieving, the oldest active trophy in motorsports history; The Gold Cup. Since 1904, the Gold Cup has been the pinnacle of hydroplane racing bringing similarities to what the Indy 500 means to automobile racing. Only the best of the best have etched their name onto the historic Gold Cup trophy with names like Gar Wood, Bill Muncey, Chip Hanuer, and Dave Villwock seeing many victories at the prestigious event. This upcoming weekend, we'll see one driver immortalized as the inaugural SNHL Gold Cup champion over a stacked level of competition with a staggering 20+ boat field expected. With 4 flights of heats and what's at stake in each heat, the Detroit river is bound to provide the most thrilling racing on the planet while creating some havoc as it will be a dogfight between these drivers until the 2018 Gold Cup champion is crowned.
Entering the weekend, Eddie Kanfoush has a substantial lead in national high points piloting the U-8 Llumar Window Films with 1347 points over his teammate Cei Bowen. The only driver with multiple final victories this season, Kanfoush is one of the favorites entering the Gold Cup as he hopes to get back into the winners circle at his hometown race in Detroit. He has the chance to clinch the championship in Detroit if he can tame the treacherous Detroit river. With Team Wurster dominating the year in national high points, there's a good chance that both drivers can secure 1-2 in points for the season. For Eddie Kanfoush, winning the Gold Cup would be icing on the cake to an incredible season for Team Wurster.
"It would mean a lot to me. Detroit is the closest race to my home, so finally everyone’s on my home turf, and also the Gold Cup is the oldest active motor sports trophy, and to put my name on it would mean the world."
The Tide and Cei Bowen enter the weekend behind his teammate in the points, standings but has a great opportunity to dig into that lead with 4 critical flights of heats. There's no doubt that a lot is on the line for this team, but we have seen enough consistency from Bowen to know that he'll be a contender for every second in the Gold Cup. Strategy in the mill and lane selection will play a huge factor in his chances to get his 1st win in the SNHL. With the Detroit course as unique as it is, any victory here will have to be hard-fought, but Bowen feels very confident in his abilities here on the Detroit river.
"I honestly feel very good about Detroit. I know that I'm not the best at getting lane one so I've been practicing a bunch of different strategies and scenarios to win races. I can't tell exactly what I've been working on but I got a game plan in my head of how I will win. I feel that I have a pretty good chance of winning. Looking to see Eddie make mistakes that cost him but at the same time rooting for him since he is my teammate. Just hoping to have better luck and to see my boat up front."
With an outside shot of the championship in sight, DJ Miller in the Les Schwab Tires will look to take every opportunity he can get to close in at Detroit. Miller has had a fair chance in the finals that he has been in this season to win, but has been limited to the outside in every final heat. For the Gold Cup, however, the outside may provide an advantage for Miller as the Roostertail turn brings speeds in excess of 200 MPH down to below triple digits. With a hairpin turn like the infamous Roostertail turn, boats on the outside have that edge of carrying out more speed off the corner than the inside lane. With arguably the quickest hull in the field, its a must win scenario for the Les Schwab Tires team. A crucial Gold Cup victory could be more of a game of survival than anything for Miller.
"Winning at Detroit would sure mean a lot. I'm confident in my ability to run well there. I know I have a boat capable of winning, but a combination of my own mistakes and some bad luck has kept me out of the winner's circle so far this season. Detroit will be as much about survival as it will be about racing, I think."
Beau Rarig and the Miss Budweiser enters Gold Cup weekend riding off of a wave of momentum from Seafair after a 2nd place finish in the final. In the 3 finals Rarig has started in, 2 have been on the podium including the Guntersville victory so there's no doubt that the Bud is capable of winning at Detroit. Given the rich history of Bernie Little's Budweiser team, it wouldn't be a surprise to see another Gold Cup victory take place under Little's flawless leadership. With the level of competition through the roof, many drivers are expected to lay it all out on the line for the Gold Cup. For Beau Rarig however, he takes after his owners words of wisdom for winning the notorious race.
"Simple: Keep it on the water. As Bill Muncey said, you don't win at Detroit, you survive it. This course is notorious for causing accidents, so it's not a stretch to say some drivers will make mistakes. If we can capitalize on those mistakes, without making any ourselves, we'll be in good shape. We intend to win the Gold Cup, and keeping the boat on the water is the first step to achieving that goal."
The Albert Lee Appliance and Matt Johnson are coming off of a huge moral victory in the final at Seafair as they look to continue their success on a much different course. After a mind blowing win from the trailer position in Seattle, the challenging Detroit course will make a back to back victory very strenuous for Johnson. One of the most persistent and fastest improving driver on the season, there's a solid chance we will see the GFTL team on the front row in the final for the Gold Cup. Looking to keep up the momentum from Seattle, Johnson knows that as long as keeps his strategy in place that he has as solid of a shot as anyone to win the Gold Cup.
"Detroit is going to be tough. It's rough, it's fast, and it can create some really close racing. In Seattle I proved that you can never count anyone out and I think that's even more true in Detroit. My strategy hasn't changed and I'm confident that I will come out with a good result as I have all year. I'm excited to ride my momentum from Seattle and fight for the Gold Cup."
Tim Johnson has had his early struggles in the inaugural SNHL season, but saw major improvement at Seafair where he scored over 1000 points on the weekend and made his first final appearance. While he was unable to finish in the Seafair final due to an incident in the backstretch, the Pico American Dream made significant progress as Tim looks to continue to build off his successful weekend at Detroit. Tim has been known to be a risk-taker so Detroit could be quite the weekend for the Leland entry. After the strides he made at Seafair, Tim will look to keep the Pico on the water with a somewhat conservative approach in hopes of a successful Gold Cup.
"I think keeping the boat on the water and legal will be the key to getting into the final. But the final itself is a whole different animal. Trying to stay out of the way of the more aggressive drivers is probably the best."
For a driver like Mickey Washburn, the season hasn't panned out the way he wanted it to as the U-1918 Oberto has yet to make a final. The Gold Cup won't make his chances any better, but Washburn has shown the potential to succeed if the boat is running at its best. With the high points championship indefinitely out of reach, Washburn is still in good position to place in the top 10 with room to move up in points. With the type of season the Oberto team has had, a Gold Cup victory may require a dose of luck. Luck could be the difference for Washburn who hopes to leave Motor City as Gold Cup Champion.
"It would be huge to win the Gold Cup. Guntersville was my owner's hometown race, Tri-Cities was mine, and Seattle was my owner's home town race and all three we walked out with our tail between our legs. So if we could pull out a Gold Cup win all that will be forgotten. It's going to be a wild day of racing and maybe some luck will fall our way this weekend."
The atmosphere surrounding Detroit intensifies as we inch closer to the drop of the green flag of the inaugural SNHL Gold Cup. The action on the water will be second to none as the Detroit river provides some hectic deck to deck racing throughout the course whether that's the Belle Isle turn, the stretched out straightaways, or the infamous Roostertail turn. We are bound to see drivers push their skill-set to the ragged edge on an unforgiving Detroit river that is sure to claim some victims. The Gold Cup will be a cat and mouse game of who can push the limits further than any other driver. Everything that has happened so far on the season will be thrown out the window when Gold Cup Weekend begins. The very best hydroplane drivers in the world will be racing for pride, for glory, for immortality. Who will earn the right to greatness as the 2018 Gold Cup champion?
SNHL Seafair Cup Race Recap
SNHL Seafair Cup Race Recap
The Seafair Cup did not disappoint as the Ted Jones race course provided the type of edge of your seat racing that you would expect in Seattle. The racing was jam packed all day as Lake Washington proved to be quite the challenging course for the biggest field of the year so far with 19 drivers showing up for the prestigious race. In the first flight of heats, we saw Eddie Kanfoush in the Llumar Window Films win 1A, Jared Meyer getting an impressive 1B win in his first race, DJ Miller got a strong start to Seafair with a heat 1C win, and Kelsey Best continued his preliminary heat win streak in 1D. Scott Przybylski in the Matrix System Automotive Finishes got his 1st much anticipated heat win in 2A, Kanfoush continued his season dominance with a 2B victory, his teammate Cei Bowen in the Tide captured the win in 2C, and Peyton Hopp in the Degree Men got the 2D heat win over the Pico.
In the final flight of heats, Peyton Hopp got back to back heat wins with a 3A victory that sent him to his first ever final appearance, DJ Miller got a hard fought heat 3B win against Kelsey Best in the Spirit of Qatar in what would be the most thrilling heat of the weekend, Tim Johnson got a crucial heat 3C win that would also send him to his 1st final of the season, and Beau Rarig secured a much needed victory in 3D to send him into the final.
The Consolation saw some unfamiliar boats in it including Cei Bowen in the Tide, DJ Miller in the Les Schwab Tires, Kyle Lewis in the Peters and May, Matt Johnson in Albert Lee Appliances, Scott Przybylski in the Matrix System Automotive Finishes, and Chris Porten in the Pay 'n' Pak. At the start, we saw DJ Miller go flying into turn 1 with the lead from the outside with Matt Johnson getting up to speed on the inside with Cei Bowen behind in between both drivers. Miller never had overlap so Johnson was able to catch up and surpass the Les Schwab on the inside as the Albert Lee Appliances advanced to the final after an entertaining deck to deck battle with DJ Miller who came in 2nd. Cei Bowen would finish 3rd in the conny, virtually ending his chance at the Seafair final and possibly the championship. After a devastating Seafair weekend, Cei realizes that the championship is out of reach but he has a real shot at finishing well at the Gold Cup.
"Right now it's a fight for second in high points. Not much to do except go out and run as hard as I can. Detroit I feel that I have a really good chance to win since it's not so much of a fight for lane 1. I can win from lanes 2 or even 3. I'm just gonna try to do my best in the heats and go all out in the final. I'm hungry for my first win and hungry to catch Eddie."
The 5 lap final at the Seafair Cup would consist of a strong fleet of competitors including Eddie Kanfoush in the U-8 Llumar Window Films, Beau Rarig in the U-12 Miss Budweiser, Matt Johnson in the U-21 Albert Lee Appliances, Peyton Hopp in the U-88 Degree Men, Kelsey Best in the U-96 Spirit of Qatar, Jared Meyer in the U-100 Znetix, and Tim Johnson in the U-100 Pico American Dream. As the hype built up prior to the start of the Seafair cup, we saw many eager drivers trying to put themselves in the best position to win on the 2 mile Ted Jones race course. For 3 drivers, their risky maneuvers proved to be detrimental as Peyton Hopp in the Degree Men, Tim Johnson in the Pico American Dream, and Kelsey Best in the Spirit of Qatar all jumped the gun. Leading in preliminary heat points entering the final, it was a bittersweet ending to a strong Seafair weekend for Schumacher's Degree Men.
"We had one fast hull today in Seattle, but trying to force yourself into the best position when time isn't on your side in the most important race will result in costly mistakes. I couldn't be more proud of my team however, as we are making big strides each and every weekend to improve and become one of the more competitive race teams on the circuit. We rebounded in a huge way from Tri-Cities, scoring 2 heat wins and even leading in points entering the final. While the final did not turn out the way we wanted it too, our goal for this weekend was to earn our way into the final and we did exactly that."
Tim Johnson also jumped the gun in the Pico American Dream where we saw his final end early after an unfortunate crash on lap 2. Both the Degree Men and Pico American Dream saw their first starts in a final as they are both finally breaking out onto the scene here in the 2nd half of the season. Tim Johnson had his best weekend to date at Seafair as he saw his first 1000 point weekend total and is currently sitting in good position in the national high points at 7th. After a successful Seafair weekend, Tim looks to build off his strong showing at Seattle and lead Leland Unlimited to a strong finish in the season.
"I'm pretty happy with how I was able to get good finishes this weekend. In the previous races I had always had trouble with making mistakes that would cost me a spot in the final or conny so I was very happy that I was able to eliminate those mistakes in the preliminary heats. I was feeling pretty good heading into the final and was happy that I was able to get into a position to get lane 2, but I guess my timing marks were off so I jumped the gun and then the Qatar shot in between me and lane 1 which threw a bit of the a wrench in things. And since I was going pretty slow at the start, I got stuck in the roostertails of the boats around me and so on turn 1 of lap 2 I wasn't able to see anything and ended up turning too much and hitting a buoy and flipping . I'll always root for my brother though so it was cool to see him win. I know there's no way that I can catch up to the high points leaders in the last two races but I'm hoping that I can keep the consistent finishes going and secure myself a spot in the top 7 at least."
Kelsey Best in the Spirit of Qatar was among one of the victims that jumped the gun, leading to a 4th place finish. Best has proven to be one of the more consistent drivers on the circuit as he has constantly found himself in the final, but has yet to secure that much needed victory as unpredictable circumstances has cost him each and every time out. While the Spirit of Qatar had quite the weekend that sees them 6th in national high points, Best was looking for much more than a finish outside the podium at Seafair.
"There was definitely more left to be desired, we had a fantastic boat for Seafair but couldn't quite capitalize. We are going to have to take a close look at our strategy for these final heats as people continue to push the boundary before the start and ruin their race in an attempt to get inside lanes. We are looking forward to the Gold Cup as the boat runs real well in Detroit and it is a great place to race with all the history involved."
At the start of the final, we saw nearly everyone on the front row crawling while Beau Rarig in the Budweiser on the outside had one of the best flying starts we've seen all season long. With the penalties, it would be Beau Rarig leading out of turn 1 with Kanfoush and Meyer battling for 2nd and Matt Johnson trailing behind in 4th from the trailer. Rarig would hold the lead entering lap 2 when he got extremely light down the Genessee gap and nearly blew it over, causing Kanfoush to catch quickly up with M. Johnson moving to his inside beside him. The Budweiser would keep fighting off the field on lap 3 as the Llumar and Albert Lee would gain ground on the leader. Entering turn 2, we saw Jared Meyer in 4th hit a roller that would send the Znetix barrel-rolling out of the course and out of the race. Even though the Znetix would DNF in the final, it was merely the most impressive debut of the season as even Meyers did not expect the outcome of his 1st race to be as solid as it was.
"I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Since it was my first race, my strategy was to just make clean starts and finish. It worked out well when I won my first heat and scored just enough points to make the final. I planned on going for it in the final, but was too early on my timing and had to settle for and outside lane and got behind everyone. Unfortunately, my steering wheel went crazy on me during the final causing the boat to make to hard right turn and flip, but overall I’m really happy with how it went."
Lap 4 would prove to be the most exciting lap of the weekend as Matt Johnson from the trailer position secured the inside lane from Beau Rarig as they would go side by side into turn 1. Exiting the turn, we saw contact between the Bud and Albert Lee but both drivers miraculously managed to keep it on the water. Johnson would cleanly pass Rarig in turn 2 as a sensational story would be born with the trailer boat leading the field coming up to the white flag. The Albert Lee saw smooth sailing from here on out as Matt Johnson would write history for the SNHL as the first ever driver to win a race from the trailer position. The odds were stacked against the Albert Lee Appliance and Matt Johnson, but that didn't stop him from scratching and clawing his way through the field to make for an underdog story in Seattle.
"I couldn't imagine a better place to get my first win. I don't think I took a breath for the last 3 laps of the final. My team gave me a fast boat and I took advantage of the opportunities I was given. I can't express how proud I am of my team and how happy I am that I get to celebrate this achievement at home. I'll be honest, I wasn't very confident going in to Seattle but I stuck with the same strategy that I've had all season and the consistency paid off. The Gold Cup can't come soon enough, I'm ready to get back out there and mix things up at the top of the season standings."
Coming in 2nd place after an adrenaline pumping final lap with the Llumar Window Films was Beau Rarig in Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser. The Bud earned its way through the final with some consistent finishes and has proven in the past that it can win races. While the Budweiser fell just short of being the 2nd boat to win multiple finals, there's no denying that the Bud is a force to be reckoned with in the final as Rarig came close to his 2nd win of the season. For the Miss Budweiser it's all about strategy and how you execute, especially in the milling period where races can be won and lost.
"My mindset during the milling period of the final was to not change up my timing marks. I had a feeling everyone would be crawling at the line early, so I knew I had a fighting chance with a flying start. I had overlap going into the first turn, but I didn't know it at the time. Had I known, Miss Budweiser would've been victorious. Heading into the last two races, I'm keeping my mindset where it is now: hit your timing marks, flying start, keep it on the water. If I check off these three criteria in each heat, Budweiser Racing will finish the season strong."
The points leader Eddie Kanfoush would not win 3 in a row, but stay on the podium as he would get 3rd place after an intense last lap battle with the Budweiser. For the 4th race in a row, however, Kanfoush has won in overall points on the weekend and continues to grow his points lead as he will be looking to clinch the national high points championship at Detroit. A blazing fast Llumar Window Films had yet another incredible weekend at Seafair as the Ted Jones racecourse proved to be one of the more technical courses of the year for these drivers to navigate. With the way Seattle unfolded, Kanfoush knew heading into the final that this was going to be completely different from the past finals.
"Well, the field looked a bit different compared to what it had in the first 3 races. Peyton Hopp in the 88, Tim Johnson in the PICO 100, and Jared Meyer in the ZNETIX 100 all had their first final appearance. Nick [Miller] and Cei [Bowen] both missed the final, which was a huge help in the high points race. The course itself was shorter, which made for a different feel than all the rest, and I'd say everyone was a bit anxious to try and get their hands on the Seafair Cup. There was a multitude of aggressive moves made in the final, and all of those factors combined made for one heck of a race."
The 2018 Seafair Cup exceeded the expectations heading in as we saw action packed racing throughout the day, intriguing story lines develop, and a few tempers flare as it wouldn't be Seafair without a hint of controversy. At the end of the day, history was made with Matt Johnson being the first driver to win a final from the trailer position and what better way to do it than racing the boat that is also the main sponsor for the event! With Seafair in the books, we focus our attention to the most prestigious race in all of hydroplane racing as well as the oldest trophy in Motorsports history:
The APBA Gold Cup