2013 Unlimited Season Preview

David the driver to beat but many
challengers in the wings

Drivers Shane, Brown, Kelly
pose strong threats

Fred Farley

(July 2013) – No fewer than 10 H1 Unlimited hydro-planes are set to do competitive battle this July 5-7 on the Ohio River at the Lucas Oil Madison Regatta. The prestigious Indiana Governor’s Cup will go to the winner for the 63rd consecutive year since 1951.
As usual, the host boat will be the community-owned U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison, piloted by the defending National High Point Champion driver Steve David.
The boat is fresh from a triumph on June 2 at the 2013 Big Wake Weekend Regatta on Folsom Lake near Sacramento. The U-1 posted a Final Heat average of 133.425 mph, compared to 130.316 by second-place Jimmy Shane in the U-5 Graham Trucking.
David will be aiming for a fourth win in the Indiana Governor’s Cup series since joining the team in 2001. David has won the Madison race in 2001, 2010 and 2011.

Miss Madison

Photo courtesy of Chris Denslow, H1 Unlimited

Steve David pilots the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison to victory June 2 in Sacramento, Calif.

The U-5 Graham Trucking team, owned by Ted Porter of Decatur, Ind., shapes up as a major threat for local and national honors in 2013. With Shane in the cockpit, they have a victory in the 2012 Tri-Cities (Wash.) Columbia Cup and a pair of back-to-back triumphs in the 2012 and 2013 Oryx Cup-UIM World Championship races in Doha, Qatar.
The 2013 season is Shane’s second as a full-time Unlimited driver. A veteran Grand Prix Class pilot, he had previously served as a back-up driver for the Porter team.
The foreign-sponsored U-95 Spirit of Qatar is the product of Our Gang Racing LLC, a group of Pacific Northwest individuals headed by former Miss Madison driver Nate Brown. The Gang appeared at last year’s Madison Regatta as U-17 Miss Red Dot and finished fourth with Kip Brown (Nate’s nephew) at the wheel.
At the 2013 season-opener in Doha, Qatar, the U-17 became the U-95 and filled in for the damaged U-96 Spirit of Qatar.  The renamed U-95 was impressive, qualifying second and scoring two preliminary heat victories.
In April, U-96 owner Erick Ellstrom and sponsor Sheikh Hassan bin-Jabor Al-Thani of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation announced that they were extending the agreement with Our Gang Racing for the balance of the 2013 season with Brown as driver.
The Red Dot Corp., which sponsored the U-17 last year, has transferred to the Kent, Wash.-based U-9 Jones Racing stable of Mike and Lori Jones for 2013.
With Jon Zimmerman at the wheel, the U-9 finished fourth in National High Points in 2012 and placed second in the Oryx Cup-UIM World Championship race at Doha, Qatar, in 2013.
On June 2 in Sacramento, U-9 Team Red Dot qualified fourth and scored a victory in preliminary Heat 2-A.
The Webster family’s U-22 is an old friend with a new name. This is the hull that raced for 19 years (between 1988 and 2006) as the community-owned Miss Madison and was sold in 2011 to the Webster team of Reading, Pa..
The former Miss Madison flipped and sustained major damage at the Gold Cup race in Detroit last year with Mike Webster driving and missed most of the 2012 campaign.
While his boat was being repaired, Webster kept his driving skills sharp by competing on the APBA’s Outboard Performance Craft (OPC) circuit.
The U-22 will be racing at the 2013 Madison Regatta as the Miss Broadway Tavern, which sponsored the Webster team in 2012 as well.
The U-11 Miss Peters & May is one craft that no one ever expected to see again. This is the hull, formerly owned by Billy Schumacher, that was declared “damaged beyond repair” at Detroit in 2010 when it slammed into the Roostertail breakwall on the Detroit River after losing a skidfin.
This past winter, the U-11 team of Scott and Shannon Raney purchased the damaged hull from Schumacher and quite literally performed a miracle. The U-11 crew installed a new bow and two new sponsons. They finished in time to compete at Big Wake Weekend in Sacramento, where they took sixth-place with Tom Thompson driving.
The line-up for the Madison Regatta includes an impressive list of past Governor’s Cup winners who would love to re-live their glory days at Madison. These include popular N. Mark Evans, who scored his first-ever Unlimited Class victory 22 years ago at the 1991 Madison Regatta with Ron Jones Jr.’s American Spirit.
Evans is now driver and co-owner (with brother Mitch) of U-7 Evans Brothers Racing, sponsored by FEDCO (Fluid Equipment Development Co.) of Monroe, Mich.
Thus far in 2013, FEDCO (U-57) has a fifth-place finish at the Oryx Cup in Doha, Qatar, in February and a fifth at Big Wake Weekend in Sacramento.
The U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing owner Billy Schumacher has especially fond memories of racing at Madison. He was the winning Governor’s Cup driver in 1967 and 1968 as pilot of Miss Bardahl for owner Ole Bardahl.
Schumacher has since won back as an owner some of the very same trophies that he originally won as a driver. That will be his and U-37 pilot J. Michael Kelly’s goal at Madison. Assisting the team as an advisor in 2013 is Dave Villwock, the sport’s most victorious driver, whose resume includes 10 APBA Gold Cups and nine Indiana Governor’s Cups.
No Madison Regatta would be complete without the participation of the U-100 Leland Unlimited from Kirkland, Wash. Team founder Fred Leland died in 2012 following a five-year battle with cancer. But the team carries on in his stead under the direction of representative owner Stacy Briseno and driver Ryan Mallow.
For their efforts in keeping the Leland tradition alive in 2012, Leland Unlimited was honored as Team Owner of the Year at the H1 Unlimited Season Awards banquet in Doha, Qatar.
The newest team on the 2013 H1 Unlimited tour is the U-14 Centurion Racing, headed by veteran Unlimited crewman and crew chief Jay Leckrone. With Greg Hopp driving, the U-14 debuted at Sacramento, finishing fourth in all three preliminary heats but failed to make the cut for the Final Heat.
The U-14 hull has a long and illustrious history. Built in 1987 by Jim Lucero, it has 23 race victories (including four APBA Gold Cups) and has been known variously as Miller American, Miss Circus Circus, Winston Eagle, Smokin’ Joe’s and Miss Al Deeby Dodge.

• Fred Farley is the H1 Unlimited Historian who resides in Milton, Ky. Email him at: fredf@hotmail.com.

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