A limited number of Unlimited Hydroplanes will lead to a new format this weekend as the world’s fastest race boats return to east Mission Bay for the annual Bayfair.
Only five boats are entered in the series finale led by HomeStreet Bank representing the event sponsor.
Qualifying will be held Friday on the 2½-mile Bill Muncey Memorial Course between East Vacation Isle and Fiesta Island. Saturday’s program will feature three, two-lap match races followed by a three-lap heat. Remaining boats will race in a pair of three-leap heats Sunday afternoon leading up to the HomeStreet Bank Bayfair Cup around 4 p.m.
The racing will also decide the 2022 national champions.
Jimmy Shane has won three of the first six races this season in Miss HomeStreet and has all but clinched a seventh driver’s championship. His boat, however, has a narrower lead over the Miss Tri-Cities in the boat championship standings.
Shane, 36, and Miss Tri-Cities driver J. Michael Kelly,43, each have three wins on Mission Bay. Kelly’s win in San Diego last year also gave him the national driver’s championship. The U-1 HomeStreet Bank and U-9 Miss Tri-Cities have three wins this season.
Third in the standings with four runner-up finishes this season will be the U-91 Miss Goodman Real Estate driven by Jeff Bernard. Fourth in the standings with three, third-place finishes this year is the U-11 Legend Yacht Transport driven by Jamie Nilsen. The fifth boat expected in the pits is the U-40 Miss Beacon Plumbing with Dustin Echols replacing all-time series win leader Dave Villwock in the cockpit.
The BayFair weekend will also include Grand Prix America class boats and other limited class hydros and tunnel hulls; the first HydroGames competition in the United States and motorcycle and car shows (on Fiesta Island).
Capps opens defense
Meanwhile, Ron Capps, fresh from his first victory in the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, formally opens defense of his second Funny Car national championship this weekend as the National Hot Rod Association’s playoffs open in Reading, Pa.
In his first year as a car owner, Capps, a resident of Carlsbad, finished the regular season with three wins and two runner-up finishes and placed second in the regular season points standings to Robert Hight. Capps was also the No. 1 qualifier at five events, including the U.S. Nationals.
A day before winning the U.S. Nationals, Capps also won the Funny Car All-Star race at Indianapolis, giving Capps a rare “double” at drag racing’s Super Bowl.
Capps defeated Hight in the U.S. Nationals finals with a 3.913-second run with a top speed of 327.98 mph. Capps finished the weekend with nine straight, sub-four-second passes in his Toyota Supra.
“It’s such a surreal feeling, I can’t even put it into words,” said Capps after winning his first U.S. Nationals. “There are so many emotions that come from winning such a big event that exemplifies NHRA’s heritage and history.”
Capps had been seeking a U.S. Nationals since1995. He finished second in the event in 2017 and last year.
“There are so many neat things that have happened in my life this past year,” said Capps. “I’m living the American dream, now running my own business and car. We’ve been trying to win this one for a long, long time.”
Center is a freelance writer.