2002 Madison Regatta

Hometown team spruces up
boat for ’02 season

Miss Madison-Oh Boy!
O’Berto gets overhaul, new crew

By Stacie Laker Skinner,
Contributing Writer

Madison Movie Boat
Madison Movie Boat
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 don’t 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, “I’ve had a fascination with boats since I was 9 years old. I just got hooked.”
But Shepherd doesn’t take all the credit. “Everybody works just as hard as I do; it’s 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 we’ve got. We don’t build junk. We build the best race craft for the dollar,” said Shepherd.
Last year’s victory in Madison added a high level of excitement as the team prepared for the 2002 season. In fact, the team and Oh Boy! O’Berto officials decided to strip the hull down to its bare skin and repaint it. The result is a shinier, sleeker look.
“People don’t 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. “They’re 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 couldn’t 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! O’Berto has sponsored the crew for the entire Hydro-Prop season.
“The guys did everything right,” David said afterward. “No vibrations, steering was great, rudder was great and the engine feel is good. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go out and run wide open all the way around to make sure everything was where it needed to be. We’ll get all that dialed in at Evansville (June 30).
“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 year’s 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 we’d 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.
“It’s a lot of work, but obviously we love it or we wouldn’t do it.”

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