SAN DIEGO 2009: Unlimited Hydroplanes will not race at Bayfair; Unlimited Lights will participatePosted: Updated:
There will be hydroplane racing on Mission Bay this year. It won't be the Unlimiteds, but the Unlimited Lights will be racing there.
The Unlimited Light Hydroplane Racing Association (ULHRA) has accepted an invititation to participate. "The ULHRA looks forward to racing again in San Diego's beautiful Mission Bay where we will be able to put noise on the water for all the hydroplane racing fans," said ULHRA President Joe Frauenheim.
Bayfair Chairman Jeff Thomas hinted last week that the Unlimiteds might still yet show up at San Diego. "If the Unlimiteds don't show, we'll have to see what happens," Bayfair Chairman Jeff Thomas told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "But I'm optimistic."
Not so fast, says ABRA Chairman Sam Cole. In fact, it's hard to put it more clearly than he did.
"I can state categorically that, given the current state of the relationship between Bayfair and the ABRA, none of our race teams will be appearing at Bayfair this year," said ABRA's Sam Cole. After not being paid for several years, American Boat Racing Association (ABRA) Unlimited Hydroplane owners said enough was enough.
"I hope that clears up any possible confusion on the issue," Cole said.
The Bill Muncey trophy, named after the legendary - and winningest - hydroplane driver of all time, has been awarded to the Unlimited Hydroplane race winner at San Diego in the past. This year, it will apparently by awarded to the Unlimited Light winner.
Every other race site on the circuit has paid fees for the Unlimiteds to race. "Essentially, we've underwritten the (San Diego) races for four year," said Cole.
"We're bringing in the boats that we think brings in competition and allows us to continue," Thomas said in the Union-Tribune.
"We have done everything possible from our side of the table to support the event over the past four years," said Cole. "In fairness to our other race sites and our race team owners, we simply can not make concessions to Bayfair that would have our teams appearing at their event without a workable financial arrangement."
"We can't race for nothing. I've been adamant the financial side must work. I don't know the answer. It's sad because San Diego is a favorite and historic venue. But there is very little room for negotiations.
The Unlimited Light Hydroplane Racing Association, Inc. has accepted an invitation to compete at the annual regatta on Mission Bay, September 19th & 20th. ULHRA will be sending its legacy series, the Unlimited Light Hydroplanes, along with the G-Class Thunderboats competing in the finale of The Westport Series, and the Lighter than LIGHTS.
Competition will be held on the swift 1 2/3's mile Mission Bay course where Greg Hopp already holds the records for the fastest Unlimited Light qualifying lap and racing heat. Hopp, the winningest driver in Unlimited Lights with 20 race victories dating back to 2001 is still looking for race victory #21 because the 2009 season has been dominated by 21 year old Kayleigh Perkins. The third year driver of the UL-72 Foster Care-Vitamin Water has won all 5 UL races in 2009 and holds a commanding lead in the points race. Ms. Perkins, a bright, rising star in hydroplane racing.
Since the Unlimited Lights Racing Series was launched in 1995 San Diego has been part of the series every year except two, and the high speeds and enthusiastic crowds at Mission Bay are a strong attraction for the racing teams. This will be the first time the Lighter than LIGHTS teams will be included at San Diego.
In announcing this addition to the racing schedule, ULHRA President Joe Frauenheim said. "The ULHRA looks forward to racing again in San Diego's beautiful Mission Bay where we will be able to put noise on the water for all the hydroplane racing fans".
This will also be the Season finale for the ACCS " Series within a Series", the concluding race of the four race series sponsored by the Westport Chamber of Commerce.
Qualifying will be held Saturday morning with preliminary heat races beginning on Saturday afternoon, concluding with a big 8 boat Final for the Bill Muncey Trophy at 4pm on Sunday afternoon.
American Boat Racing Association Chairman Sam Cole issued the following statement regarding the status of the relationship between The San Diego Bayfair on Mission Bay September 18-20 and the ABRA.
Cole stated, "We are concerned about rumors circulating that some of our (ABRA) unlimited hydroplanes will be part of the event in San Diego. There is no truth to these rumors, and we want to be absolutely certain that there is no confusion among our fans."
Cole continued, "We remain extremely disappointed that we have not been able to reach a financial agreement that would allow us to continue our long relationship with Bayfair. We have done everything possible from our side of the table to support the event over the past four years. In fairness to our other race sites and our race team owners, we simply can not make concessions to Bayfair that would have our teams appearing at their event without a workable financial arrangement."
Cole concluded, "I can state categorically that, given the current state of the relationship between Bayfair and the ABRA, none of our race teams will be appearing at Bayfair this year. I hope that clears up any possible confusion on the issue."
Fans wanting more information on the schedule for the event should direct their questions to Bayfair at 619-225-9160 or through the website at www.sandiegobayfair.org.
Next stop on the ABRA schedule is "Thunder on the Ohio" in Evansville, Indiana August 21-23. The event includes concerts by country music stars Travis Tritt, Jack Ingram and the Marshall Tucker Band and the Rib America Festival, as well as the 5th stop on the 2009 ABRA hydroplane tour. Teams will then prepare for the trip to Doha, Qatar for the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship November 12 - 14.