boat for 02 season
OBerto gets overhaul, new crew
Stacie Laker Skinner,
The vintage reproduction hydroplane Miss Madison is scheduled to
appear at the 2002 Madison Regatta with driver Dave Williams aboard.
MADISON, Ind. While most people dont start
thinking the annual Madison Regatta until early July, the Miss Madison
racing team starts getting ready for the race several months earlier.
The new Miss Madison crew chief, Doug Shepherd, taking over for team
manager Charlie Grooms, can speak first hand about the time, money and
support it takes to get ready for the rooster tails and excitement of
this 52nd annual event.
Shepherd was given two goals: to get the boat ready for racing and to
get the community more involved by recruiting more volunteers to get
the boat in top shape. Since 1989, Shepherd has worked on the Miss Madison
team and admits, Ive had a fascination with boats since
I was 9 years old. I just got hooked.
But Shepherd doesnt take all the credit. Everybody works
just as hard as I do; its a joint effort.
Finding the financial resources to maintain and sponsor the boat is
also a goal that must be met yearly, but no matter what the circumstances,
the crew always gets the boat ready for the water.
We make do with what weve got. We dont build junk.
We build the best race craft for the dollar, said Shepherd.
Last years victory in Madison added a high level of excitement
as the team prepared for the 2002 season. In fact, the team and Oh Boy!
OBerto officials decided to strip the hull down to its bare skin
and repaint it. The result is a shinier, sleeker look.
People dont have a clue of all the work that goes into it,
said Shepherd. In the past year, nearly 35-40 people have volunteered
their time to just stop by and help repair the boat. All of the people
that work on the Miss Madison are volunteers, with only 13 people on
the actual crew.
Needless to say, it was in rough shape, said Shepherd.
The original frame of the boat was built in 1988 by Ron Jones Sr., but
now the only original parts are the under carriages of the sponsons
that run front to rear on the boat. Other adjustments were made to the
contour of the sponsons to extend the width between them to allow for
more air lift to occur and get the boat up on the water faster, said
driver Steve David.
Our boat has a narrower span between the nose of the sponsons
than the newer boats, and by tapering them some, we hope to produce
more speed more quickly while going into the turn and coming out of
it, David said during a June 15 visit to Madison to test run the
newly overhauled boat.
David flew into Madison June 14, drove the boat on the Ohio River on
June 15, then flew back to Florida that evening to pilot the Offshore
Super-Vee series boat at the City of Marathon Super Boat Grand Prix
in the Florida Keys on Sunday, June 16.
The test on the Ohio River also served as a practice run for the newly
assembled crew. They towed the boat to the river, pieced together the
tail fins, then lowered the craft into the water. They also practiced
changing out the engine.
This is a dry run for them, too, David said. Theyre
doing a great job.
Wayne Dunlap and Myron Jackson also brought their 2.5 litre stocks to
the river that day but could not run their boats because of the windy,
choppy water conditions. Dave Johnson brought his 225 hydro Miss Close
Shave II, but also couldnt run because of the conditions.
After a few laps, the crew worked out a gear box problem and made some
other minor adjustments in preparation for the first of six races this
season. Oh Boy! OBerto has sponsored the crew for the entire Hydro-Prop
The guys did everything right, David said afterward. No
vibrations, steering was great, rudder was great and the engine feel
is good. Unfortunately, we didnt have enough time to go out and
run wide open all the way around to make sure everything was where it
needed to be. Well get all that dialed in at Evansville (June
This was a good day for the crew, he continued. We
had a problem, and they were able to deal with the problem and find
a solution. I think we are in good shape.
As for a repeat of last years historic victory at the Madison
Regatta the first in 30 years when the late Jim McCormick drove
to victory here David said, We may not be able to top it
but wed sure like to match it.
Shepherd said the community has always supported the boat but few realize
how many hours it takes to get the boat ready each year. Several work
full time at Clifty Engineering and then spend many hours down at the
boat barn on Milton Street.
Its a lot of work, but obviously we love it or we wouldnt
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