Boats hit Detroit River for Spirit of Detroit HydroFest


DETROIT – The Detroit River is filled with the fastest boats on the water for the 99th Annual Spirit of Detroit HydroFest.

Some of the boats top 200 miles per hour. Many of the races prefer Detroit to all the courses in the world.

"Basically the boat is floating all around the race course, this is the only way to control this thing not to blow over," said Cal Phipps, a Sterling Heights native who travels the country racing his unlimited hydroplane.

Powered by a helicopter engine, the boat hits speeds over 200 miles per hour.

"When we hit about 198, I put my hand over the digital dash so, I don't want to know how fast I'm going then," Phipps said. "But a lot of times when we come back and look at data we'll see 205, 208, 209."

Phipps and 11 other races are in the unlimited category for this Spirit of Detroit HydroFest.

"The roostertail turn, which we're in, is the tightest turn in all of hydroplane racing," said Mitch Gawrysiak, a volunteer.

Gawrysiak and hundreds of other volunteers make the race possible.

"It takes a lot of people to put on this race," he said. "I love it, I'll be coming back until they put me in that box."

But this year, one group in particular made the races possible: UAW-GM. The group filled the funding gap and brought all their supported charities with them.

"It never gets old, this is fantastic," Gawrysiak said. "This is Detroit, we are here, we are enjoying it."

For ticket, or more information about the event, visit the Spirit of Detroit HydroFest website.

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