H1 Unlimited Hydroplane driver describes the rush of racing


by Johnny Archer


Posted on July 7, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 8 at 3:41 PM

(WHAS11) -- H1 Unlimited Hydroplanes are roughly 7,000 pound beasts that can reach speeds up to 200 mph when they hit the water, making that quite a ride for the driver inside the cockpit.

“You got to have absolutely no brains,” says Nate Brown, a crew member with Miss Red Dot. “Any moment you can crash, go under water and hope your air mask will work.”

Those are the words Brown uses to describe what it takes to drive a H1 Unlimited Hydroplane.

Brown is a retired driver after sitting in the cockpit for 22 years.  Now, he's a crew member for Miss Red Dot out of Seattle, Washington.

“We've got flames coming out our turbine engine,” says Brown. “Our turbine engines are left over Vietnam War engine T-55 L7C (originally used for Chinook helicopters). Three thousand horse power and 1,500 foot pounds of torque makes these rockets, we call them moisture missiles that run 200 mph.”

It’s a missile very capable of crashing. Like in 2011 at the Madison Regatta, where there were two crashes in one day, sending three people to the hospital.

But, it's the thrill and speed that keeps people coming back and draws new spectators to the sport.

“It’s the next thing to a NASCAR race,” says Donald Fiedler of Bardstown.

“It’s cool,” says Debra Rogers of Bardstown, KY. “It’s the first time I’ve been here. So, it’s something to see.”

Many teams spend about $25,000 in wear and tear and gas in one weekend to compete in the H1 Unlimited races.