The Thunder is Back

Vintage hydros to roar
on the Ohio River

By Fred Farley
Contributing Writer

MADISON, Ind. (June 2003) –  Power boat racing's classic past will come vividly to life this summer when the vintage race boats of a bygone era return for the 2003 Budweiser Madison Regatta, supported by Belterra Casino Resort. The vintage craft will participate in the second-annual Bob Snelling Memorial Vintage Race Boat Event, July 4-6.
The vintage boats will participate in the Friday night Regatta Parade on Main Street, will be on display all weekend and will run demonstration laps on the historic Madison race course.


Photo by Don Ward

The vintage hydro "Obsession."

In addition to seeing and hearing the thunderous sounds of these unique and beautiful boats as they run on the race course, spectators are invited to take a guided pit tour to view them close-up in the vintage pit area.
As many as 30 champions of yesteryear are expected to participate. These include some of the sport's most celebrated winners.
In the words of Joe Johnson, vintage race chairman for the Budweiser Madison Regatta, "Our 2002 event was a fantastic success. We received compliments from all over the country. 2003 will be even better. I guarantee it."
Moreover, the Madison Regatta was honored as the "2002 Vintage Event of the Year" at the American Power Boat Association's national convention in Detroit last winter.

Vintage Hydros selected
for Madison - 2003
Last update: 05/29/2003
Vintage boat entries as of May 29:

Boat Name Owner Class Launch
F4 Z-Z-Zip Tom D'Eath 266 hydro
Obsession Bill John Gold Cup-Speedster
The Irishman Bill Fisk Grand Prix Hydro
Close Shave II Dave Johnson 225 Hydro
Heart Beat Paul Nowack Jersey Speed Skiff
Agitator Alan Radue 280 Hydro
Executif GP-11 Jeff Buckley Grand Prix Hydro
River Rat Dave Yeager Jersey Speed Skiff
Miss Dinomytes Gordon Jayne Grand Prix Hydro
Yellow Streak Ron Taylor 5 Litre Hydro
Tiger Carl Wilson 225 Hydro
Country Boy Tom Bertolini 225 Hydro
Vagabond Steve Lindo 280 Hydro
Opechee Hal LeDuc 266 Hydro
Streaker Joe Marshall 7-Litre Hydro
TipBack S-50 Bill Mehan 145 Will Farmer Hydro
Miss Bonnie Gary Cotter 280 Hydro
Heavy Duty Bill Winn 7-Litre Hydro
Miss Crazy Thing Billy Sterett 7-Litre Hydro
N-700 Miss Sapphire Steve Ladino Lauterbach 225 Hydro
Moonshine Baby Phil Spruit 7-Litre Hydro
Yar-Gar Chris Johnson Gold Cup - Speedster
Miss Washington D.C. Jon Bartell 266 Hydro
Petti's Pet Travis Hickman 7-Litre Hydro
Y3 Century 21 Special Shaun Berry 850 Hydro
Hi-Q Bob Moore Loyd 136 Class Hydro
Chrysler Queen Buddy Byers 7-Litre Hydro
A-66 Competition Bill Morrison 2.5 Hydro
Gemini Dick Harris 2.5 Hydro

One of the top Limited hydroplanes of the 1950s is coming to Madison. This is the Z-Z-Zip, a former world record-setting 266 cubic-inch class hydro, which the late Sid Street drove to 146 mph in 1958.
Obsession owner-driver Bill John made a memorable impression with the fans – and took many of them for rides – at last year's Regatta. He will return this year. Obsession is a modified Gar Wood step hydroplane, powered by a 510 cubic-inch Chevrolet engine.
Bill Fisk, who doubles as a crew member for the Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison Unlimited hydroplane, will once again be at the wheel of The Irishman. Designed and built by Henry Lauterbach, this boat won many Grand Prix Class trophies back in the 1970s.
Madisonian Dave Johnson will have his restored 225-class racer, the Miss Close Shave II, back out on the water. This home-built craft won the Marine Derby Regatta at Louisville in 1962 with original owner Loren Charley at the wheel.
Alan Radue's 280-class Agitator was never a big winner in Limited inboard racing, but its longevity was amazing. The boat survived four decades of competition – the '50s, the '60s, the '70s, and the '80s.

Schedule of Madison
Vintage Events All final
scheduling will be done by the
Madison Regatta race staff.

Friday, July 4
• Vintage tech inspections.
• Vintage rookie driver meeting & qualifications to include APBA safety/rescue rep.
• Vintage race boat warm-ups & test runs.
• Vintage race boat media rides.
• Vintage Race Boat heats on the historic Madison race course.
• Madison Parade - including Vintage Race Boats.
Saturday, July 5
• Vintage drivers meeting - to include APBA safety/rescue rep.
• Display of Vintage Race Boats 
• Vintage Race Boat heats on the historic Madison race course.
Sunday, July 6
• Vintage drivers meeting - to include APBA safety/rescue rep.
• Display of Vintage Race Boats 
• Vintage Race Boat heats on the historic Madison race course.

Tom Bertolini, a descendant of old-time boat racer Jack Beebe, will again showcase his beautiful bright-blue 225-class hydro, the Country Boy.
Former Unlimited driver Billy Sterett Jr. will return to Madison after an absence of more than three decades. He's bringing a replica of his late father's 1966 National Champion 7-litre hydroplane, the Miss Crazy Thing.
One of the highlights of the 2002 Budweiser Madison Regatta was the appearance of Bill Cousins in River Rat and George "Buddy" Byers in Chrysler Queen, two of the all-time great 7-litre boats from the 1960s, running head-to-head with each other – both with their original drivers.
These and other storied old-timers are scheduled to bring boat racing history to life on the legendary Ohio River this Fourth of July weekend.

Back to 2003 Madison Regatta Articles.


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