As most of the people around the Stan Sayres pits, watching or working during qualifying for Seafair’s HomeStreet Bank Cup, Scott and Shannon Raney grew up with unlimited hydroplanes.
The Raneys, who own the U-11 J&D’s presented by Reliable Diamond Tool, have made sure their kids have grown up with it as well.
“This is our summers. This is our winters,” said Shannon Raney, who manages the Edmonds-based Unlimited Racing Group team. “We do this all year long. And it’s just ingrained into our family.”
Scott Raney is the crew chief for the team, which qualified fifth Friday on Lake Washington at 147.266 mph. Two of their kids work for H1 Unlimited. A third does social media for the team.
And that extends to the crew, many of whom have been with Scott, as he worked on other crews, for decades.
Scott and Shannon grew up watching Seafair. Shannon’s great grandmother even got a ride in the Slo-Mo-Shun IV with Stan Stayres, who was her neighbor. That boat famously won the Gold Cup in 1950, which is how Seafair started in 1951.
Scott did a bit of driving, but he decided to focus more on the crew side of the sport, something he’s done for 30 years. They turned it into a family job. Scott would work as a crew chief, and Shannon would handle the front-office work.
In 2011, they decided it was time for their own team, and bought equipment from the retiring Ken Muscatel.
“We literally started at the bottom of the barrel, and we just keep fighting and clawing our way to get to the top,” Scott said. “It’s not been easy.”
The team has been working its way up the qualifying ladder, adding speed over the years to become more competitive. The team was the No. 4 qualifier in Tri-Cities. And the 147 mark Friday was 7 mph better than what the team qualified in Seattle in 2013.
“I’ve watched them over the last three years continually raise the bar,” said Andrew Tate, the defending national champion and driver of the U-1 Delta/RealTrac. “Scott and Shannon Raney work extremely hard at it.”
Before Tri-Cities, the team made a change at driver, bringing in Jamie Nilsen, who had a brief run in the unlimited five years ago.
Nilsen, 34, has been winning championships in the Grand Prix class, and pulled double duty in the Tri-Cities and will do the same in San Diego next month. Nilsen was a standout baseball player at Central Washington University and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2008.
“It’s a real team sport,” Nilsen said. “I love competing as a team and being part of a team. In a way it’s filled that void for me.”
Speaking of voids, the Raneys are still looking for their first win as owners.
“There’s a lot of speed in that boat,” Nilsen said. “As I get more and more comfortable, I’ll get the boat going faster just on my own.”
The Raneys are proud of saying there’s no offseason for the team, putting in hours and hours in the winter in order to improve.
“We’re going to get there,” Scott said. “We will get there.”
- As he has at every race this season, Jimmy Shane was the top qualifier in the U-6 Miss HomeStreet. Shane posted at 154.513 mph on the Ted Jones Race Course.
- Heat 1A is Saturday at 2:30 p.m. There is no TV broadcast Saturday, but Sunday’s racing will be televised starting at 1 p.m. on KONG.