H-1 Unlimited drivers' main goal is to win boat races. There are some who have made it their goal to keep the drivers safe. I want to introduce you to John Walters.
"By the time i was 9 years old," said John Walters, "it was my goal to grow up and drive an unlimited hydroplane."
That's exactly what John Walters did -- Leaving a legacy in the sport.
"I can say very proudly that i am the first guy to ever win a race in a turbine-powered hydroplane," said Walters.
But where there's speed, there's a need for safety. Walters was the Safety and Technical Director for the Tri-City Water Follies.
During his time behind the wheel, Walters learned about the dangers of the sport the hard way.
"I spent the good part of 14 months in and out of harbor view [hospital]," said Walters as he went on to explain the laundry list of injuries.
Despite the physical harm, he was one of the lucky ones.
"In all honesty," admitted Walters, "it was very rare a driver survived a severe accident."
Back when the boats had open cockpits, the dangers of the sport were hard to ignore.
"In the racing world, it is deemed as black Sunday when we lost 3 drivers in one day."
Walters was referring to the President's Cup in 1966. A death in the H-1 Unlimited world hasn't taken place since 2000, thanks to the leaps and bounds in the safety protocols.
Walters can build them, drive them, and is now looking after the next generation drivers.
"It is my mission to see what happened," said Walters, "what we did wrong, and what we could do better to prevent anyone else from going through some of the things that I did."
He says while you cant prevent crashes, the rules and regulations are in place with safety in mind.
"So as technology changed," explained Walters, "as the engineering changed, and as safety equipment became more available, I can happily say we have made crashes more survivable."
So families and spectators can enjoy the speed without the prevalent dangers that once existed back in the early days of Hydroplane Racing. Walters -- once at the forefront of racing is now one of the driving forces behind the safety of the sport.
The H-1 Unlimited circuit finished up its 2021 calendar in San Diego on September 17-19.