For the first time in 44 years, the Unlimited Hydroplanes will race on Folsom Lake near Sacramento. The exhibition will serve as a dress rehearsal of sorts to test the viability of the venue and especially to gauge the interest of the local community of holding a race. The hope is to have a full-fledged race in Sacramento in 2012, with a May date being mentioned as the most likely option.
For this preview, I will treat it like I have my other race previews and focus on the teams involved in the event. Coincidence or not, all four teams taking part in the exhibition should be looking forward to the opportunity to get their boats in the water for some more test time. Whether it's a new team, a new boat, a rough season up to this point, or some combination of these things, all of the teams involved in the Sacramento exhibition should see the event as a chance to get some more time in the water as the season heads into the homestretch
The U-11 Miss Peters & May began the season with a lot of hope for the Unlimited Racing Group's first season, but this season has become more of "shake down" year as everyone grows accustomed to their new roles and their still new hull. After failing to score a single point in Seattle, the team finds themselves in tenth place in the High Point standings. Obviously, JW Myers and the crew should welcome the extra time in the water after the first four races of the season has been full of struggles for the team. A nice performance in the Sacramento exhibition could be a springboard for a strong showing in San Diego next week.
The U-21 Go Fast Turn Left Racing team has rebounded nicely after their horrific accident in Madison, qualifying for the Final Heat in both Tri-Cities and Seattle . The still young and relatively inexperienced Brian Perkins and this still young team is still looking to make up ground, however, and the Sacramento exhibition should be a nice test venue for a team that seems poised to make the move to be one of the contenders in the sport.
The 88 Degree Men, like many teams throughout the years running with a brand new hull, welcome any opportunity to put their new boat in the water and see what it has. The team finds itself sitting sixth in points, which is a solid showing considering that they didn't score a single point in Madison. The 88's involvement also gives fans the opportunity to see one of the sport's best young and up and coming drivers in J. Michael Kelly as well as one of the sport's best new sponsors in Degree Men. This is also the first of three busy weekends for the team, as they will be in Sacramento on Thursday, San Diego next weekend, and Washington, DC for the exhibition the following Friday. Hopefully the team will pack some coffee along with their Degree Men products.
The U-100 Leland Unlimited team will come into Sacramento with a new old look. Reports are that the team will switch back to the black and maroon 19980-99 hull that the team has used in previous years and raced as the U-99 Miss HAPO Credit Union. Also, Ryan Mallow, who qualified as a driver in this hull in Tri-Cities this year, will be subbing for Greg Hopp at the exhibition. Therefore not only will the team get to see if a different hull will produce better results, but a young up and coming driver gets a chance to get some more seat time in an Unlimited.