Detroit moving Gold Cup to Aug. in 2015
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:00 AM
The Oberto/Miss Madison Racing team will have to wait until next August to defend its recent Gold Cup victory with the announcement that the race is switching dates.
Oberto/Miss Madison crew chief Larry Hanson (left) and driver Jimmy Shane (right) hoist the APBA Gold Cup after winning Sunday’s at Detroit. The team’s reign as Gold Cup champion will last a few weeks longer than most past winners because the Detroit River Regatta Association announced plans to move the Gold Cup race date from the second weekend in July to Aug. 21-23 in 2015. (Courier file photo by David Campbell)
The Detroit River Regatta Association, which puts on the Detroit race, made the announcement just before the first heat of racing on Saturday. The new date will be Aug. 21-23.
It is hoped that the date switch will help boost the dwindling crowds the race has seen in recent years.
"We have been hoping for the opportunity to move the event because so many people travel around the July Fourth holiday," said Tom Bertolini, the outgoing president of the DRRA. "When the third weekend in August opened up, we jumped at the chance. Now even more people will have the opportunity to participate in this Detroit tradition."
Other than a few exceptions, Detroit had held its annual race in early to late June from the late 1960s through 1997. The following year, the race was moved to the second week in July, immediately following the race in Madison.
The late August date is not unusual for Detroit. The site hosted two races throughout the 1950s with the second date being either in late August or early September. The 2003 race was moved to late August because of financial difficulties.
One of the big advantages of the move as far as Detroit officials are concerned is a chance to pair up with the American Canadian Hydroplane Association to bring the Grand Prix class to Detroit. The grand prix boats are nearly comparable in size to the Unlimiteds, but use automotive engines and have top speeds at roughly 150 mph.
The grand prix class, as well as several of the smaller classes, typically compete at Valleyfield, Quebec, during the second week in July and were unavailable to race at Detroit. Now they can all converge on the Motor City.
"Our grand prix teams are very pleased with the ACHA's decision to return to Detroit with all its racing history, prestige and media coverage," said Michael Poirer, general director of the Valleyfield Regatta. "The addition of Detroit to the ACHA-GP series is the result of some serious efforts made by both organizers with one goal: to continue to promote and improve the sport."
At least one Unlimited driver loves the idea of moving the Detroit race to late August, recent Gold Cup champion Jimmy Shane.
"Moving the race to August is just awesome," said Shane, who drove the Oberto/Miss Madison to his first-ever Gold Cup victory on Sunday. "You're going to be treated to some great racing. Those grand prix boats are fast and loud and they put on a great show. They won't be disappointed."
The biggest question mark on the move is how it will affect not only the boat count at Detroit, but at Madison as well. As the schedule stands now, Madison's race on July Fourth weekend will lead off the season and then there will be a three-week break until the next race in Tri-Cities, Wash. Following the race in Seattle, the boats will return east to Detroit and then have to turn around and go back west to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and San Diego.
The cross-country schedule has some wondering if cash-strapped teams will be willing to come east twice and if not, which race will they chose to attend. Evansville is in the process of organizing a race for next year. Should its date be near Madison, it would give teams an added incentive to make the trip.
H1 Chairman Sam Cole said his organization will do everything it can to assure that both eastern races are well attended by the H1 fleet.
"The owners had a meeting (Saturday morning) and each one assured me that they support Madison and will be back next year," Cole said. "We're not going to let Madison down. I'm going to do everything I can to help my hometown."