Detroit River loses Gold Cup for 2019; there will still be a race weekend

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
The Gold Cup won't return to the Detroit River in 2019.

The Gold Cup, the Indianapolis 500 of unlimited hydroplane boat racing, will not return to the Detroit River in 2019.

Instead, the Gold Cup will be staged in Madison, Indiana, after Detroit race organizers and officials with the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Series failed to reach an agreement this month.

Detroit organizers wanted a commitment for a minimum number of boats, and the H1 officials couldn't agree to that.

"So we finally just reached an impasse," said Bruce Madej, who works with Detroit race officials. "We believe that it was not the type of show that we wanted to put on. We want to make sure that we had a number of boats and competitive boats, and put on a show that would be good for our fans and our sponsor.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't get the type of answer that we needed."

Since 1980, Detroit has hosted the Gold Cup race 30 times, including every year from 1990 through 2014, and most recently in 2018.

The last time the Gold Cup wasn't in Detroit was 2015.

The running of the Gold Cup dates to 1904.

Mark Weber, president of Detroit Riverfront Events, wasn't available for comment Friday.

Andrew Tate of Walled Lake, middle, is congratulated by fans after winning the Gold Cup race in 2018.

Detroit Riverfront Events Inc. still is planning on having boat racing this summer, with the dates scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 24, and Sunday, Aug. 25.

There will be varying classes of boats and at least double-digit competitors, Madej said. Only six boats competed in the Gold Cup last summer, with only four finishing the final heat. Andrew Tate, of Walled Lake, won the 2018 Gold Cup.

Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing between race organizers and Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers to continue its sponsorship, which it has held the last two years.

There will be a benefit for fans of boat racing, as ticket prices will decrease, Madej said. Also, action will be condensed to about 3 1/2 hours of racing per day. It's not yet been determined what competitors will be racing for; in previous years without the Gold Cup, they have raced for the Spirit of Detroit Trophy and Silver Cup.

Hydroplane racing on the Detroit River dates to the early 1900s.

"We want to keep the tradition of boat racing alive in 2019," he said. "We are planning on putting on a show."

H1 Unlimited hasn't yet released its entire schedule for 2019. In 2018, it held races in Detroit, Alabama, Indiana, California and Washington (two races).

Twitter: @tonypaul1984