Kennewick, WASH - Chip Hanauer has won more hydroplane races than all but one other driver. Retired since 1999, fans most often only hear or see Hanauer once a year when he's on-air as a commentator for KIRO-TV's broadcast of the Chevrolet Cup at Seafair.
But he'll be in the Tri-Cities this weekend and back on the water in an Unlimited Hydroplane. But he won't be competing, he'll be showing off the boat dubbed the U-787, a showcase for Boeing's new bio-fuels.
FRIDAY 8:30AM FRIDAY 11:00AM Columbia Park
The boat is the backup hull for the U-17 Ellstrom's Elam team. The bio-fuel sounds too good to be true - it's 80 percent coconut oil. The rest is made up of a light vegetable oil, called Babassu oil. Boeing has named it BioJet-A.
The boat's run a couple of exhibitions, most notably at Seafair last year where Hanauer run qualifying laps and put up speeds comparable to what the boat had run in past years.
SEAFAIR QUALIFYING 2008 U-787
Lap 1 - 141.251 Lap 2 - 146.160 Lap 3 - 147.631
Boeing hasn't limited the test to hydroplanes. It's also tested the fuel on its airplanes, including four different airplanes and various types of engines. All of the tests have been successful.
"This provides us with another high-performance test," said Boeing's Bob Saling. "Biofuel is definitely in our future in our aircraft."
As for Hanauer, he has no plan to return to active racing.