The big red Allison-powered Cooper’s Motorsports Unlimited hydroplane (top photo) was back on the water Friday in Evansville to test for today’s exhibition with the Lycoming Turbine-powered 11 Peters & May (photo below) — a two-boat shootout on the Ohio River as part of the city’s ShrinerFest celebration. On the sidelines since 2010 due to differences between boat owner Ed Cooper and organizers of the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series, the Coopers is the last piston-powered hydroplane to compete in the series. Driver Jimmy King (photo above) was elated to get to take the boat back out for a run. “It was awesome. It’s one of those things that you never want to give up,” King said. (Photos courtesy Kirk Duncan/HydroNews)
The big red Allison-powered Cooper’s Motorsports Unlimited hydroplane (top photo) was back on the water Friday in Evansville to test for today’s exhibition with the Lycoming Turbine-powered 11 Peters & May (photo below) — a two-boat shootout on the Ohio River as part of the city’s ShrinerFest celebration. On the sidelines since 2010 due to differences between boat owner Ed Cooper and organizers of the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series, the Coopers is the last piston-powered hydroplane to compete in the series. Driver Jimmy King (photo above) was elated to get to take the boat back out for a run. “It was awesome. It’s one of those things that you never want to give up,” King said. (Photos courtesy Kirk Duncan/HydroNews)
Unlimited hydroplane racing has returned to the Ohio River at Evansville for the first time in five years with a two-boat exhibition this weekend during the city's ShrinerFest.

The piston-powered Cooper Motorsports and the turbine-powered Peters & May both hit the water for test laps on Friday and will stage two "races" today. Evansville hasn't not hosted an Unlimited race since 2009 but there is hope among organizers that this event will be a precursor to a new race starting next year.

The star of the show undoubtedly is the hometown Cooper entry, which has not raced competitively since 2009 after pulling out of the sport in a dispute with H1 Unlimited leadership. On Friday, driver Jimmy King put the "Turbinator" through four laps, his first time in the boat since 2010.

"It was awesome. It's one of those things that you never want to give up," King said. "It's absolutely spectacular, especially in a piece of equipment like that. One of these days we're going to come back and the rest of those guys are in trouble."

High winds throughout the day delayed testing but both boats saw time on the water. Tom Thompson got in three laps aboard the Peters & May, sustaining minor damage to a sponson.

The event is being promoted on by NauticPromo, a group based out of Great Britain that is led by Peters & May CEO Dave Holley. NauticPromo made an effort to take over control of the Unlimited hydroplane racing during the offseason but was rebuffed by the owners.

The two boats will test 10:30 a.m. to noon EDT today with a practice heat 2:30-3:30 p.m. and a final heat at 5:30 p.m.