Gold Cup hydroplanes dropped from Detroit races

Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

The Detroit River Regatta Association has announced Gold Cup unlimited hydroplanes will not be racing on the Detroit River next summer.

While smaller hydroplanes will compete during the Detroit River Festival of Speed, the unlimited class will be missing due to a lack of sponsorship and dwindling crowds of spectators, organizers said Friday.

"Everyone can look forward to seeing more thrilling racing on the water and more excitement on the land as Detroiters celebrate a two-day Festival of Speed, and do it at a dramatic reduction in admission fees," said the Detroit River Regatta Association (DRRA) in a press release.

The Festival of Speed is scheduled for Aug. 22-23, 2015.

Also known as Thunderboats, the unlimiteds are capable of speeds of up to 200 mph on the straightaway and average lap speeds ranging from 130-165 mph. They average 28-30 feet in length and have a minimum weight of 6,750 pounds.

Boats in pursuit of the Gold Cup have raced on the Detroit River for nearly 100 years, making the contest reportedly the oldest active motor sport in the world.

"Detroit has long played a dominant role in the world of power and speed," the DRRA said. "The motors built here not only gave the city its familiar moniker, the Motor City, those motors also power America's interest in speed, both on land and water."

During the speed festival, more than 100,000 square feet of displays are planned, featuring race cars of virtually every class and era, racing motor cycles and ATVs, historic race boats, plus the latest Detroit has to offer in the world of high performance cars and hardware.

Racing will be the highlight both on and off the water during the two-day event, including:

■ The Zooomtown 500 will be waged on Michigan's longest, fastest Pinewood derby track. Kids from ages 6 to 60 can compete with classes for everyone.

■ Three classes of boats will race in at least 32 events including three classes of racing boats: Grand Prix, H350 Hydroplanes and SST Tunnel Boats.

Grand Prix Hydroplanes are powered by supercharged, big-block V8 engines and can hit speeds of 170 mph. H350 Hydroplanes are also powered by V8 engines and are fast, furious and loud.

SST Tunnel boats will compete in 15 and 20 lap championships.

General admission will be $10 per day; general admission grandstand seats will be priced at just $20.

Pit passes, along with premium seat on the top of the Pit Tower, in the Judge's Stand veranda of the Tail Turn Cafe, will also be available although prices have not yet been released.

For more information, see the Festival of Speed website.

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