100 Years of Speed: Why APBA Gold Cup Returned to Detroit

Modified: July 11, 2022 | Story by Michelle Fusco | Photos by Chris Denslow

Detroit’s proud legacy of high-speed powerboat racing celebrates a century with this year’s UAW-GM Spirit of Detroit HydroFest. The event, which takes place Aug. 26-28, marks 100 consecutive years of powerboat racing on the Detroit River — the sport’s famed international water speedway — as well as the return of the APBA Gold Cup — the oldest active trophy in motorsports.

Marking a Milestone

The Spirit of Detroit HydroFest is the longest continuously running hydroplane race on the H1 Unlimited circuit. H1 Unlimited hydroplanes are the fastest – reaching speeds of up to 200 mph – and most powerful, closed-course racing boats in the world. It’s an exciting spectacle that you just have to see for yourself.

According to event organizers, the first sanctioned hydroplane race took place on the Detroit River in 1916. Since 1946, a minimum of one unlimited hydroplane race has been contested each year on the Detroit River. Spectators will have the chance to view several vintage boats on display at this year’s race site.

What’s New?

Free Friday has been added on Aug. 26 beginning at 1 p.m., with free admission to the grandstands and the cold pit during test runs. General admission parks – Erma Henderson Park, Memorial Annex Park and Owen Park – remain free on Saturday and Sunday. (There is a charge for parking.)

The Classic Shore Dinner preview party is planned for Aug. 25 to recognize the 100 year anniversary. The event is fittingly hosted at the Roostertail restaurant – named for the fantail spray created by the speedboats as they race. A strolling supper offers tastes from some of Detroit’s best known restaurants – including London Chop House, Andiamo, Fishbone’s and Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina. The $75 ticket also features a meet and greet with Gold Cup Race owners and drivers, a free drink and cash bar, live entertainment PLUS two Roostertail pavilion Gold Cup tickets for Aug. 28, a private tour of the Gold Cup boat pit area and a raffle ticket, which benefits the March of Dimes, for a chance to win a 2016 General Motors vehicle.


Heat races will be run Saturday, Aug. 27. Sunday’s big finish features heat races plus the Gold Cup final. Grand Prix boats and Formula 2 boats will also compete during the weekend. Catch some great bands on Saturday and Sunday on stage at the Hydromart/Food Court area, located behind the Waterworks Grandstands. A free car show for hot rods, custom and classic cars at Waterworks Park will add to the fun.

General grandstand tickets start at $50 for the weekend. To purchase tickets, call 313- 329-8047. Visit detroitboatraces.com for more information.

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    London Chop House
    155 W. Congress St., Detroit, MI 48226
  2. 2
    Andiamo Detroit Riverfront
    400 GM Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI 48243
  3. 3
    Fishbone's - Detroit
    400 Monroe St., Detroit, MI 48226