By Owen Blauman
Special to The Courier-Herald
J. Michael Kelly recently announced he will drive the U-37 Billy Schumacher Racing entry in the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane series in 2011.
Kelly, a Bonney Lake resident, has started 45 races during his six-year career driving an unlimited hydroplane. The 31-year-old Kelly was named Rookie of the Year in 2004.
Last season Kelly placed second in three winner-take-all finals, had six first-place preliminary heat victories and 25 podium finishes. He finished third in National High Points behind the winingest active driver, Dave Villwock, U-96 Spirit of Qatar, and five-time driver champion Steve David, U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto.
For the past two seasons the veteran Kelly has driven the U-7 Graham Trucking and won the UIM World Championship trophy in 2009.
“I am excited to join the Schumacher Racing team,” Kelly said. “In a relatively short period of time, Jane and Billy (Schumacher) have won the APBA Gold Cup, a World Championship and an Albert Lee Cup and that shows we have a very competitive team and they know how to win.”
The 2011 effort will mark the sixth year Schumacher Racing has competed in the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series.
“It will be exciting to have the newest boat on the circuit, combined with the leadership of Billy and some other seasoned professionals who have joined the U-37 team. I look forward to a very successful 2011 season,” Kelly said.
The team is currently building a new state-of-the-art race boat and is scheduled to have it completed prior to the first race – the Lucas Oil Indiana Governor’s Cup Fourth of July weekend in Madison, Ind.
“It’s hard to leave a team after two years but sometimes you have to take risks,” Kelly said. “I embrace the thrill of adventure. And this will be some adventure. I would like to thank Ted Porter for allowing me to drive for him the past two seasons and wish him luck in his three race boat endeavor.”
“We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with several great drivers and J. Michael is poised to help us build upon that tradition,” said Billy Schumacher, president of Schumacher Racing LLC. “He put up some impressive results and we look forward to building on his success this season while competing in the H1 Unlimited Series.”
Kelly began racing at age 7 in a small kneel-down type hydroplane with an outboard motor attached to the back of the boat. He scored many national championships along the way and still holds six world speed records in the outboard and inboard classes of racing.
A four-time inductee into the prestigious A.P.B.A. Hall of Champions, Kelly began his unlimited career driving for U-2 Jim Harvey Motorsports (2004-05). He also drove for the U-13 Spirit of Detroit (2006-2008), and most recently, the U-7 Graham Trucking (2009-10).
The 2011 H1 Unlimited series schedule will consist of six events beginning at the Lucas Oil Indiana Governor’s Cup, July 1-3, followed B.A. Gold Cup in Detroit on July 8-10; Lamb Weston Columbia Cup, July 29-31; Albert Lee Cup at Seafair, Aug 5-7; San Diego Bay Fair, Sept. 16-18 and the Oryx Cup/UIM World Championship in Doha, Qatar Dec. 1-3.
Schumacher Racing was formed in 2006 by two-time Gold Cup trophy winner and three-time National Champion driver, Billy Schumacher and his wife Jane after they purchased the race team assets of Bill Wurster’s U-8 Racing. Based in the Seattle neighborhood of Magnolia, the team has four victories. Three in 2006 with Jean Theoret driving, including the Gold Cup Trophy and World Championship Trophy. The teams forth victory came back in 2008, again with Theoret driving. Schumacher Racing’s past drivers include: Jean Theoret (2006-09), J.W. Myers (2009-10), and Jon Zimmerman (2010).