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Detroit's Hydroplane 'Gold Cup' Finds Success At City's Riverfront, New 2015 Dates

DETROIT (WWJ) -- Many fans flocked to downtown Detroit to watch the APBA Gold Cup hydroplane races on Saturday and will look to avoid rain during scheduled races on Sunday.

The event is now in its 98th year and features multiple races to crown a champion of the oldest active trophy in motor sports. Event director Mark Weber gave a little preview about what spectators can expect to see.

"Behind the grand stands, there's different vendors that you can go around to and look at," Weber said. "You can go Piston Park and look at more of the vintage hydroplanes."

Races will run all weekend, weather permitting of course -- starting just after 1 p.m. -- but festivities will begin as early as 8 a.m. each day which will include autograph sessions, a classic car show, live music, and an air show with a World War II airplane.

Weber said that there are multiple spots with great views that will vary in price.

"On Belle Isle, the beach is free -- it's 100 percent free. That's something that we do to give back to the city," Weber said. "The grandstands are $45, the pit tower is a premier seat that are $150. It's the third deck, it's the highest point. The most exciting seat is actually Club Gold Cup, that's a premium ticket. Those tickets are $250 for both days, but it's very high-end, very VIP and it's open to the general public."

Driver Jimmy Shane said winning the cup means more than ever this year.

"It's very tough nowadays to find sponsors, to find venues, to find money that people can use to go racing on the weekends -- even professionally in NASCAR," Shane said. "So, to have a trophy and a title such as the Gold Cup, which has lasted for as long as it has, it just makes it that much more exciting."

The Detroit River Regatta Association (DRRA) announced a new date — August 21-23 — for next year's Gold Cup Races. The switch was made strategically to avoid the Fourth of July holiday, which typically drives people out of town.

"We have been hoping for the opportunity to move the event because so many people travel around the July Fourth holiday," President of the DRRA Tom Bertolini said. "When the third weekend in August opened up, we jumped at the chance.  Now even more people will have the opportunity to participate in this Detroit tradition."

Next summer marks the 99th anniversary of the first Gold Cup race on the Detroit River and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.  Over the course of the past few years, the DRRA has been researching additional classes of boats to bring to the event to make it a "true festival of speed" -- while the Grand Prix class is the latest addition, it most likely will not be the last.

"With the 100th anniversary approaching and our ten-year deal with the APBA to keep the Gold Cup in Detroit coupled with our prime spot in August and adding the GPs, I can't imagine a better setup for an already-historic event," Weber said.

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