Diamonds truly are forever, they just get put on a shelf for a few decades sometimes.
News broke this past week that there are plans for a five boat exhibition in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for this coming Labor Day weekend, with the hopes of having a full race starting in 2013. This will be the first time the Unlimiteds will race on Coeur d'Alene Lake since 1968 and is certainly welcome news for longtime fans of the sport, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Coeur d'Alene held its initial run of Unlimited races from 1958-1968, and became memorable to fans as a race that represented a certain era of racing and the boats, drivers, and personalities therein. Coeur d'Alene was to the 1960's what Owensboro was to the 1970's and Honolulu was to the 1990's in that the race site was popular with fans and people within the sport for a decade, but for differing reasons the stability of the race site began to unravel and was taken off the schedule. A nice recap of the first run of Diamond Cup races by Bob Senior appears on Leslie Field's website (I can't make a link to the story on here for whatever reason, but go to http://lesliefield.com/default_frame.htm and put "Diamonds Aren't Forever" in the search to read the story).
Nostalgia no doubt has played a big role in the organizers' pushing for a return of the Diamond Cup, this is especially true when one considers that the same committee has recently organized vintage exhibitions on Coeur d'Alene Lake. Because of this, the exhibition and hopefully the future race in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho will have a lot of nostalgia and will almost have the feel of a vintage race of its own although it will obviously feature modern boats. If the race does take place, the Diamond Cup race could also represent a nice balance to the international expansion. For me, the fact that the sport is growing globally is great, but so is the fact that the sport hasn't abandoned its roots in places like Madison, Tri-Cities, and hopefully Coeur d'Alene. As Sam Cole noted in the press conference announcing the return of the Diamond Cup, hydroplane racing has its roots in the Pacific Northwest, so hopefully this race will show the sport is staying true to its roots as it continues to grow.
As with anything that comes to Unlimited Hydroplane racing however, I'm approaching this news with cautious optimism. It isn't any secret that exhibitions or promises of races have come up dry when it is time to have an actual race. Just last year exhibitions were held in Sacramento and Washington, DC with promises of a full race in 2012 and neither of those came to fruition (although there is a chance that both could be on the schedule for 2013) and the Houston race site seems to be all but abandoned. Still, the Coeur d'Alene site seems to be built on a strong foundation and it's good that American locales are once again showing interest in bringing the Unlimiteds to their city. Here's to hoping that Coeur d'Alene Lake will once again become a regular stop for the Unlimited Hydroplane tour.
As a sidebar, Thunder The Bridge celebrated its one year anniversary last week. I would like to thank everyone for their positive feedback when it comes to this blog. This is literally something that I just decided to start one day and it has taken off in ways I couldn't have imagined. So thanks to all of you for reading this and making the first year of the blog so fulfilling. In the next couple weeks I'll be writing a few more pieces in relation to the upcoming season along with a full season preview as we get closer to the start of the season. Stay tuned.