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Kirkland hydroplane Miss DiJulio to race in Seafair Cup
Each year Kirkland residents hear the thunder of the Blue Angels flight team during Seafair and know a big party is going on at the other end of Lake Washington. Many take their own boats across the lake to join the party and watch the Albert Lee H1 Seafair Cup unlimited hydroplane races. But many don’t have a civic or emotional interest in the races themselves.
Two Kirkland cousins are trying to change that by also taking their own boat to the south end of the lake - to compete for the cup.
“We all grew up in the Seward Park area,” Brian DiJulio said. “We love it. It is what the Northwest is all about.”
Cousins Brian and Chris DiJulio co-own the hull of the old 48 Snoqualmie Casino boat and rechristened it the Miss DiJulio.
The two cousins live 13 houses apart in the Juanita neighborhood of Kirkland.
“We used to go the races and tie up to the boom together,” Brian said. “It is more than a boat to us. It brings tears to our eyes when we see it out there.”
This is not the first year the cousins have sponsored a boat but it is the first time they have co-owned one.
“We got the opportunity three years ago [to sponsor a boat] and jumped at it,” Brian said. “We thought it would be a lot more expensive.”
But with the purchase of the hull, the cousins also received the opportunity to choose the colors, design and racing number.
Although the team is based in Ken Muscatel’s shop in Burien, the cousins are hoping Kirklanders will adopt the Seahawk blue and green hydro with the No. 12.
“We are big Seahawks fans,” said Brian, whose family has been season ticket holders since the team’s inception. “We saw the boat’s colors from last year and wanted to see if we could get the No. 12.
“We want this to be the boat of the people. I think everyone is a fan of the Seahawks.”
The team has been racing this season with co-owners Centurion Unlimited Racing.
“This is not something we make money on,” Brian said. “We want to give back to the area.”
The Miss DiJulio team is giving back to the area monetarily as well. The team is donating 5 percent of all profits from its merchandise sales and sponsorships on the Miss DiJulio website to the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.
Brian said that while 5 percent does not seem like a lot, it is for the team as they do not make much money during the season.
Their two local companies, Brian’s Washington Asset Management and Chris’ Lincoln Corporate Logistics and Lincoln Moving and Storage, Co., are the boat’s main sponsors. Lincoln Moving and Storage has been in the DiJulio family for nearly 60 years. Car Stars, 206 Creative and Carpet Liquidators of Seattle are associate sponsors.
The driver of the Miss DiJulio this season is veteran Greg Hopp, who is the son of long time driver Jerry Hopp and has been driving unlimited hydroplanes since 1998.
Crews had some work to do on the boat prior to the start of the season on July 4 in Madison, Ind. and scored points during that first competition. The next race in Michigan did not go as well.
“We blew out the gear box in Detroit,” Brian said.
The team will be racing in Kennewick, Wash. this weekend and in Seattle at Seafair on Aug. 1-3.
The boat itself gives the cousins hope for a hometown win, as it placed during the finals of the 2013 Seafair race.
Kirklanders have not had a vested interest in the races since the death of longtime Kirkland resident and unlimited hydroplane owner, driver and legend Fred Leland in 2012 to cancer. But Leland has had a huge influence on the Miss DiJulio team.
“The hull is a Leland hull,” Brian said. “I never met him but a lot of our people worked with him. He had a very large impact on the sport.”
The DiJulios will host a rally for the hydro from 6-10 p.m. on July 30 at Hector’s Restaurant in downtown Kirkland. The Miss DiJulio will be on display. Brian’s band the Love Jacks will perform on Hector’s patio from 7-10 p.m. Sales of merchandise will benefit the King County Boys & Girls Clubs.
From left, Chris DiJulio, Jay Leckrone and Brian DiJulio stand with the Miss DiJulio hydroplane that will race in the Seafair Cup.