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Holiday tribute

Madison celebrates hometown team's
hydroplane title during Christmas parade

City selected as site for
ABRA winter meeting for first time

By Don Ward
Editor

(Dec. 6, 2008) – Madison Regatta hydroplane racing fans celebrated Christmas with a special gift Saturday, Dec. 6, when the annual Christmas parade kicked off with a trophy presentation to the city. The hometown U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison racing team won the American Boat Racing Association's 2007 National High Points Championship last summer, and team owner's representative Bob Hughes of Clifty Engineering Tool & Co. presented the trophy to Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong. The race boat led off the parade procession but came to a temporary halt when it reached City Hall. Hughes jumped out of a lead vehicle and took the stage with Armstrong for the short ceremony.
Hughes noted that this was the first national title for the boat in 47 years, but that the team was one heat away from winning the title in 1971.
According to ABRA Historian Fred Farley, after winning the Madison and Tri-Cities races back to back in 1971, the Miss Madison was the National High Point leader heading into Seattle. Unfortunately for the team and its fans, the boat blew an engine and didn't finish one preliminary heat. She didn't make the cut for the Final Heat.
Miss Madison went on to finish second at Eugene, Ore., and third at Dallas. But the mechanical difficulty at Seattle came back to haunt her at season's end.

Bob Hughes and Tim Armstrong

Photo by Don Ward

Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison
owner's representative Bob
Hughes (right) presents the team's
national championship trophy to
Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong prior
to the Dec. 6 Christmas parade.

Next season, the race boat will sport the U-1 designation for the first time in the race team's history. The team has been racing in the sport since 1961, and the city has hosted Unlimited hydroplane racing since 1954. Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison driver Steve David won the National High Points Driver Championship in 2005 and 2006.
"We are so proud to be here today to present this trophy to the city of Madison. Our guys have so hard to get us here, and we thank all of those people who supported us and continue to support us," Hughes said over a loudspeaker set up in front of Madison City Hall.
Hughes introduced crew chief Mike Hanson, his brother and team member Larry Hanson, and former crew chief and longtime Madison Regatta official Tony Steinhardt.
Hughes also noted that as a result of the team's success, Madison has recently been selected for the first time to play host to the 2009 ABRA winter meeting and awards banquet. The event is scheduled for Feb. 13-14 at The Livery Stable in downtown Madison. More than 300 people are expected to attend.
"We have been looking for the right place to hold this year's dinner, and this will give our fans in Madison and the Midwest an opportunity to attend a celebration they've waited more than 40 years to have," said Sam Cole, ABRA chairman, said in a statement announcing the meeting. "We plan on this being one of the most memorable evenings in the sport's history."
Armstrong and Cole have been working to expand access to the meeting by offering tickets for sale to the public and possibly broadcasting the event live over the Internet.
Ticket information for the banquet will be made available at a later date. Those interested may contact the ABRA office at 1-877-783-RACE or via email at: taryn@abrahydroplanes.com.
Following the short trophy presentation, the parade resumed, taking a new route this year from Jefferson Street west to Broadway, with Santa and Mrs. Claus bringing up the rear, riding in a horse-drawn carriage with Armstrong and his wife, Debbie. Immediately after the parade, the Armstrongs joined Santa in lighting the city's Christmas tree at Broadway and Main streets. The program included music preformed by various local singers.

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