Gold Cup goes to Madison, no race for the Motor City.

Bernie Little

The sport’s oldest race site will not host an unlimited race this summer. The race organizers at Detroit reached an impasse with the officials at H1 Unlimited with regard to holding an event in the Motor City, so both have announced that the unlimiteds will not be seen on the Detroit River this year.

Cindy Shirley poses in front of the Miss HomeStreet at the spring training session in the Tri-Cities before the season started.

Cindy Shirley talks hydroplanes.

 April 2019

      Oh, yeah.

      I don’t like to be in situations where I don’t know what’s going on. I knew the outcome I was looking for. I knew things we were wanting to do. Making sure I had the right people to do the job and that kind of stuff. Actually, we have a wonderful crew. I love my crew. Love them. They’re fantastic, I mean, from top to bottom. 

     To jump ahead, they’re staying on board for 2019?  

     I don’t know. I hope so. Some of them I don’t think so.                                                                            Continued, click here...

     Here are the six T-boats, what they first appeared as, and where they are today. Numerous sponsor names appeared on four of the six hulls throughout the years, and still to this day might be referred to by some, using their original “T” number.

                                                                                                                                                                                 Continued, click here...

by Lon Erickson


As most die-hard unlimited hydroplane fans know, there is a hull numbering system that is commonly used to identify and track specific hydroplane hulls through history, regardless of the boat’s owner or sponsorship. That numbering is used in Jim Sharkey’s Hydro’s Who’s Who book and in the R/C club master rosters. It generally consists of the year a hydroplane hull was built and entered competition, along with the first U number used that year. A hull with the ID #9988 would represent a hull built in 1999 that first carried the number U-88.

      Almost as prevalent in a lot of hydro conversations is the reference to a “T“ hull, such as T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.  You may wonder just what that “T” really means or how it came about.

      Simply put, when Bernie Little and the Budweiser Racing team made the decision to convert to turbine powerplants, they started with the Turbine-1 designation for the 1984 U-7 Lite All Star (hull #8407) that Little acquired from “R.B.” Bob Taylor in 1985. The boat, which was designed and built by Jim Lucero, was the first Budweiser to be powered with a turbine and is therefore designated as T-1.

UNJ: In 2018, when you were named crew chief, what went through your mind?

      Shirley: I knew I was crazy to accept that. I went through this whole thing. I had a long talk with Charlie (Grooms), long talk with Jimmy, a long talk with Dan. It was gonna impact him even if he hadn’t been on the crew. It was gonna impact him and I kidded myself and said, “Sure, I can make this work. I can do this.” I mean, I knew how bad the job was going to be, but I think I tried to kid myself to tell myself that it wouldn’t really be as (pause).

     Yeah…

     Yeah, it was awful. (Laughter.) It was awful.

     Because of the pressure and the work requirements?

     Well, not knowing what I didn’t know yet.

     The Gold Cup, the oldest trophy in motor sports, which was first held in Detroit over 100 years ago and has been held on the Detroit River in 27 of the past 28 years, will move to the Ohio River and Madison, Indiana.

     According to a statement released by H1 Unlimited in late February, H1 and Detroit Riverfront Events, Inc., the organizers of the Detroit race, had been discussing since December the terms of sanctioning an event at Detroit in August.
Progress in those negotiations had reached what the H1 Board of Directors felt was a contractual impasse.

     “H1 believes that the parties cannot come to an agreement that would assure a quality competition in Detroit for the coming season, and as such, H1 will not be sanctioning a race in Detroit in 2019,” the statement said.

     During an interview on Detroit’s WJR Radio a couple of weeks later, Doug Bernstein of Detroit Riverfront Events said that in their mind, H1 hadn’t exactly been invited. “This is a case where we were not satisfied with the show that the unlimited hydroplanes put on for each of the last two years,” he explained. “There weren’t enough boats and the teams they sent weren’t all of the best ones.”

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Bernie Little’s T-Boats

When hydro fans get together, the conversation will

sometimes include references to the T-5 hull or the T-4.

What does that mean?

Last month, Cindy Shirley talked about her initial involvement with unlimited hydroplane racing and how she joined the Miss Madison crew. This month in part two, the conversation focuses on her increasing role on the team and how she became crew chief in 2018. The interview was conducted by Craig Fjarlie on December 14, 2018.