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Miss Madison races into hydroplane history
at 2001 Madison Regatta

Last hometown victory
came at the 1971 Gold Cup

Don Ward
Editor

(August 2001) Madison, In – Steve David made history July 8 by winning the 2001 Belterra Casino Madison Regatta aboard the community owned U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto Miss Madison. For hometown fans cheering along the Ohio River shoreline, he brought joy back into the 31-year-old event.

Miss Madison Team

For years, the dozens of volunteers who help stage the race have endured ups and downs, wondering just three years ago whether the event would even continue.
But what a difference a few years can make. First, Belterra Casino Resort became the title sponsor, beginning last year. Then the Miss Madison Inc. racing team picked up season-long sponsorship from the Kent, Wash.-based Oh Boy! Oberto Sausage Co. Then David was hired to drive for the 2001 season, becoming the 19th person to pilot the Unlimited hydroplane since it began racing in 1961. David not only won his first heat in Madison, he rode into the history books in the championship final.
“This is totally amazing,” said David, 47, a resident of Lighthouse Point, Fla. “I could not have drawn this scenario up any better. To win my first Unlimited race since 1995 and to do it in front of these loyal fans of Madison, is a feeling that I will never forget.”
Never mind that his victory came at the expense of three Unlimiteds ahead of him that were penalized a lap for jumping the starting gun. David timed the start perfectly as he watched Terry Troxell in the Znetix II, Mark Weber in the Miss EMCOR and Dave Villwock in the Miss Budweiser jump the gun. David was running fourth at the start, followed by Greg Hopp and Jimmy King, who finished second and third. The race – and the victory – however, belonged to David, his teammates and his hometown fans.
“This was about team work and faith and people coming together,” David told a throng of reporters in the pits before escaping to the trophy stand. “Everyone in the crew had a part in this. This was for the people of Madison. This was for each of them.”
Miss Madison team manager Charlie Grooms said the team tried out a new Lycoming turbine engine that day, and since it worked so well in the first heat, they stayed with it. “It was a gutsy call because we had been struggling a bit and were looking for more speed,” Grooms said. “We elected to go with the new engine on Sunday morning to test it for the Gold Cup in Detroit the following week. After winning that first heat, we decided to go with it in the final.”
David and the other drivers spent much of the race not even knowing who was ahead. Hydro-Prop officials didn’t confirm that David was in fact the leader until half way through the five-lap race. By then, David had lost radio contact with his team and said he didn’t realize he had won until he approached the pits and saw everyone cheering wildly and coming toward his boat.
“Usually, they’re all walking away from me after a race, so I knew something was up,” he later joked.
But once the word was broadcast across the riverbank, Oh Boy! what a celebration. David cruised into the pits, jumped out of his craft, hopped onto the dock and began hugging anyone within reach. Teammates and dozens of reporters and fans raced onto the dock to try to reach David as the dock sank nearly a foot under water.
Bob Hughes, Miss Madison Inc. owner-representative reached David first. The two hugged and pulled each other all the way through the crowd to the trophy stand, where they continued the celebration in front of hundreds of screaming fans.
The trophy awards presentation that followed was a mixture of speeches, hugs, kisses, haircuts, screams and sheer elation from Miss Madison teammates, dignitaries, Regatta volunteers and fans, all sharing in the joyous moment. Even the usual winners, the Miss Budweiser team and driver Villwock, stood by watching the party.
Cameras recorded the historic event and David – an immediate celebrity – began signing autographs on programs, wristbands, T-shirts, caps – anything that fans thrust at him in hopes of taking home a sure souvenir. David gladly obliged and was still signing autographs at dusk hours later as he left the pits.
David scored his fourth Unlimited hydroplane career victory and the first for the city of Madison since 1993. His victory brought back memories of Jim McCormick’s win driving the Miss Madison at the 1971 Madison Gold Cup race. McCormick’s son, Mike, was among the first to congratulate David as he stepped off his boat.
“It’s awesome,” McCormick screamed, nearly hoarse and tearing up. “It reminds me of that day here with my dad. I’m just so glad I was here today to see it happen again.”
Grooms, who joined the team in 1977 and became its crew chief in 1985, called the victory in Madison “the culmination of what we’re about and strive to do – to win and win in Madison. It helps the city and helps the team. It’s about this Regatta surviving in this city.”
David summed up the day, saying, “The tradition of the Miss Madison was an important aspect in my decision to return to the sport. Having 13,000 people cheering you on is the best feeling in the world, and I am glad to have been a part of this historic occasion. I knew this team was ready to win and it showed by their preparation. The team has been waiting for this for a long time and you could just see it in their eyes that they were ready for a victory. “
In all, four different drivers won heats – David, Weber, Hopp and Villwock. Mike Hanson’s day, however, ended early after becoming the top qualifier for the second consecutive race with a speed of 157.202 mph. But Hanson suffered significant damage to the right side of his Unlimited in the first heat and had to withdraw. Hanson rebounded the following week by winning the APBA Gold Cup in Detroit.
The Belterra Casino Madison Regatta will be televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m. (EST-slow time).

Belterra Casino Madison Regatta Results:
1. U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
2. U-100 Miss Znetix I, Greg Hopp
3. U-8 LLumar Window Film, Jimmy King
4. U-99 Miss Znetix II, Terry Troxell
5. U-10 Miss Emcor, Mark Weber
6. U-1 Miss Budweiser, Dave Villwock
7. U-25 Security Race Products, Dr. Ken Muscatel
8. U-3 Master Tire, Mitch Evans
9. U-9 Miss Bello’s Pizza, Mike Hanson

Back to August 2001 Articles.

 

 

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