SEATTLE -- The Air National Guard unlimited hydroplane series will make its annual stop on Seattle's Lake Washington this weekend for the Albert Lee Cup.
The course is scheduled to open for testing at 8:30 a.m. today.
Dave Villwock, driver of the U-96 Spirit of Qatar and winner of two races this season, is favored to continue his win streak.
His closest rival, Steve David in the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, experienced problems last weekend at the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup in the Tri-Cities.
The Oberto was in its first race since being seriously damaged at the season opener in Madison, Ind.
The boat was riding heavier on the nose than it did before the mishap, and David had his hands full maintaining control of the boat.
After the Tri-Cities race, David said the crew would make changes to the hull to improve performance.
"We have better gear box and propeller combinations for the Seattle course than we had for Tri-Cities, and I think we can beat Villwock there," he said, flashing a confident smile.
For Villwock, every race is an opportunity to demonstrate that he is the most successful driver in the sport's history.
Last November in Doha, Qatar, he won the sport's World Championship.
The win moved him into a tie with the late Bill Muncey for the most career wins by a driver at 62.
Villwock's victory in the Gold Cup race in Detroit last month, plus the win in the Tri-Cities, advanced his total to 64. By comparison, David has 13 wins to his credit.
How long Villwock will continue racing is a question his rivals frequently ponder.
He is 57 years old and reaching an age when most drivers seriously consider retirement.
He has given no hint of any plans in that respect so it is possible his career victory total could surpass 70 before he hangs up his helmet for the last time.
If fine-tuning to the Oberto hull allows David to run deck-to-deck with Villwock, the Albert Lee Cup could feature some tremendous duels.
The rest of the fleet, however, has big strides to make in order to run with the leaders.
The U-17 Miss Red Dot is second in the season point standings to Qatar, but driver Kip Brown was no match for Villwock in the final heat last weekend in the Tri-Cities.
The 88 Degree Men, with J. Michael Kelly in the cockpit, is a new boat that has shown flashes of brilliance but remains a step behind the leaders.
Jeff Bernard, at the wheel of the U-5 Graham Trucking, and his teammate Scott Liddycoat in the U-7 Valken.com, will be seeking additional speed for the Lake Washington course after failing to finish in the top three in the Tri-Cities.
Thirteen unlimited hydroplanes are expected in the Stan Sayres pit area.
They will be joined by the smaller unlimited light class, which will run a separate race between heats of the Albert Lee Cup.
Notes: The U-9 will be sponsored by the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau for the second consecutive week. The boat, owned by Jones Racing out of Seattle and driven by Jon Zimmerman, will be known as the U-9 Miss VisitTRI-CITIES.com. ... The Houston race which was set for Sept. 2-4, has been cancelled because the water level is too low in Clear Lake. ... The Navy's Blue Angels will headline the air show.