If you attend a powerboat race today there is very little diversity among the ranks of drivers. Believe it or not the sport has had many African American drivers over the years many who achieved great honors. I myself was a member of an all black racing club based out of Washington DC called “The Speed Masters”. During the 80s we were at least ten members strong running everything from Champboat to F1 and Formula 100. Many great names come to my mind like the late Harry Davis and Art Kennedy, Rudy Foote etc. but this story is about Harold so lets move on.
Via the Seattle Channel
Veteran hydroplane racer Harold Mills has won just about every honor a driver could receive. He has been a Region 10 High Point Champion,Western Divisional Champion and National Champion, and has also won both the Sportsman of the Year award and the George Babcock Award for Most Outstanding Driver. But speed isn`t the only barrier Mills has broken; he`s also made history as the sport`s first African American driver. Mills is proud of his accomplishments as a driver, and is committed to bringing more diversity to the sport of hydroplane racing.
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The “Unlimited” life of Harold Mills
by George Fosty
What we see often depends on what we are looking for. Ask most marketing experts and they will tell you that Harold Mills is not the kind of athlete corporate sponsors seek out when it comes to “promoting” their products or company name. First of all, Harold Mills is a solid family man — he has been married to his wife, Vicki, for almost 30 years and is the father of three successful children. Second, he is a soft spoken, well mannered gentleman — a difficult concept to market in an age where marketability is defined often in terms of outlandish behavior. Third he is 51 years of age, a symbol of endurance over youthfulness, a curse in the eyes of those who believe old age begins at 19. And fourth, he is an African American.
Mills, one of only a handful of Unlimited Lights Hydroplane drivers who has obtained national recognition, lives a modest life in Renton, Washington. During the week he works as a delivery driver for DHL Airborne Express. On weekends, however he spends much of his time performing in the Unlimited Lights circuit. In a recent article, Tri-City Herald Reporter Jahmal Corner wrote:
“Harold Mills is not a token African American hydroplane driver. He isn’t part of the Unlimited Lights circuit just to make history, to become the first black driver to compete at the Columbia Cup, or to garner the same honor at Seafair…though he did, and he will…He’s paid his dues to get here, and it’s paying off. And that alone might mean as much to Mills as any racial significance his being in the sport of hydroplane racing has.”
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