363437517 784841456978041 6426442464955775162 N
J. Michael Kelly celebrates winning the Gold Cup. (Beacon Electric photo)

Gold Cup Belongs To J. Michael Kelly

SEATTLE — J. Michael Kelly drove Beacon Electric to a come-from-behind victories in both the HomeStreet Bank Cup and the APBA Gold Cup and in the H1 Unlimited Racing Series national championship.

Andrew Tate, driving Miss Goodman Real Estate, finished second in the race and Corey Peabody drove Beacon Plumbing to third place.

The American Power Boat Ass’n Gold Cup is the most prestigious trophy in all of boat racing and, first run in 1904, it is the oldest trophy in American motorsports. The event was brought to Seattle this year with the efforts of Beacon Plumbing.

Tate took an early lead in the winner-take all final heat with Kelly right behind him and to his inside. It remained that way until the third lap, when Kelly powered his boat into the lead and then pulled away. The win is Kelly’s second APBA Gold Cup victory and is also the second in a row for his Strong Racing Team.

Kelly also came from behind in the race to win the national title. When the final heat started, he was only 91 points behind Peabody. But, with his victory in the final heat, Kelly ended the 2023 campaign with an 84-point advantage over Peabody. Second in the final standings was Dustin Echols of Monroe, Wash., the driver of Flav-R-Pac, who finished with only 35 more points than Jamie Nilsen of Gig Harbor, Wash., the driver of Legend Yacht Transport presented by The Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse.

“Absolutely, amazing, just beautiful weekend here at Seafair,” Kelly said. “Never in a million years could I think that I’d win another Gold Cup, let alone a championship. Just got to really thank my sponsor, Bill Cahill, Beacon Plumbing, Beacon Electric, Darrell and Vanessa [Strong, the team owners] for the opportunity and believing in me. Of course, I have to thank Corey Peabody, one of my best friends, and the operation that he’s helped build here, and our crew chief, Jeff Campbell, and his brother, Mike, who allow us to go drive for them. I’m just absolutely blessed to have the opportunity and … man, it feels really good.”

There were four different winners during preliminary heat action earlier in the day. In the day’s first heat, Dustin Echols got a perfect start and led the field to the finish line with Kelly placing second. The day’s next heat featured a deck-to-deck battle between Tate and Dylan Runne, both of the Madison Race Team. Tate got his boat across the finish line just a few feet ahead of Runne, who was driving last year’s national champion Miss HomeStreet.

Tate was involved in another close race in Heat 4A where he, Peabody, and Runne again thrilled the fans by running side by side through much of the early portion of the race. It ended with Peabody getting across the finish by just a nose ahead of Tate. Kelly was the winner of Heat 4B when he pulled into the lead during the first lap and held that advantage to the end.

The HomeStreet Bank Cup and the APBA Gold Cup race concludes a 2023 H1 Unlimited Racing Series that provided many close races for boat racing fans. The race teams will now head back to their shops for the off-season to begin preparing the world’s fastest race boats for a 2024 H1 Unlimited campaign that promises to be bigger and even better.