Lake Sacajawea Park
DATE: Saturday, April 15, 2023
CONTEST DIRECTORS: Nelson Holmberg & Tom Markos
For a decade, the North Idaho resort town of Couer d’Alene, played host to “Water Racing’s Greatest Show”--the Unlimited hydroplanes – starting in 1958.
The Couer d’Alene race always attracted a large crowd of spectators. And a lot of people from Seattle could be counted upon to line the shores of Lake Couer d’Alene for the annual Diamond Cup.
In the 1950s and early ‘60s, Unlimited racing was a distinctly regional sport. Unlike today, West Coast teams attended mainly western races, while East Coast teams patronized mainly eastern races. There were very few crossovers.
Never more than one or two eastern boats ever showed up for the first few Diamond Cups. But that changed in 1962 when a fleet of five Detroit Unlimiteds (GALE V, GALE VII, MISS U.S. I, SUCH CRUST IV, and NOTRE DAME) challenged the western fleet. Be that as it may, no hydroplane based east of the Mississippi River ever won at Couer d’Alene. In 2013, the race was reborn for another go with teams based in Madison, Ind.; Decatur, Ind.; Reading, Penn., and Seattle. Unfortunately, it lasted just one season. That race, over Labor Day Weekend, was won by the Indiana-based U-5 Graham Trucking which enjoyed its only perfect weekend of the season, on its way to the 2013 national championship with Jimmy Shane at the helm. It was also our own Nelson Holmberg’s first full season on the Graham Trucking crew.
When it comes to ERCU, the Diamond Cup has been run every year but three across the 20 year history of ERCU. The Diamond Cup is one of the club’s “nomad” races, having been run in numerous locations from Longview to Friday Harbor. Rick Lentz purchased and donated perpetual trophies years ago with the lucite at the head of the trophy engraved with an image of the original Diamond Cup that was awarded in Couer d’Alene in its early years.
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