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Small scale racing

Remote-controlled hydros
popular sport among die-hard race fans

By Alyssa Brown
Contributing Writer

(July 2005) – Doug Shepherd of Madison, Ind., has been involved in hydroplane racing for nearly 20 years. As assistant crew chief to the Miss Madison race team in 2002, Shepherd, 42, is familiar with boat racing. But while the Unlimited hydroplane series competes on the Ohio River this July for the annual Madison Regatta, Shepherd will be at Krueger Lake in the Jefferson Proving Ground racing his 1/8 scale model remote control hydroplane in the District XIV sanctioned I.M.P.B.A. Dennis Holt Memorial Race.

Greg Bentley and Doug Shepherd

Photo by Don Ward

From left, Madison RC hydro racers
Greg Bentley and Doug Shepherd
show off their remote-controlled boats.

Shepherd, along with other RC hydroplane enthusiasts, gather several times each year to engage in friendly competition. Because the I.M.P.B.A is a non-profit organization, it forbids monetary prizes, and all entry money is used to purchase trophies, which are awarded to the first through third place over-all point leaders at each race and at the season’s finale, held Oct. 2 in Indianapolis.
Thousands of people will flock to the banks of the Ohio on July 2 to watch Unlimited hydroplanes compete, but only a small few will make their way to Krueger Lake and enjoy the camaraderie, friendship and their very own hydroplane racing.
Sportsmanship is a key element to the remote-controlled, scale hydroplane racing. Dale Douglas, an Indianapolis-based member of the Madison Prop Walkers Club, said, “Friendship keeps us going. You can’t do this without the other club members.”
He was assisting Ted Schuman, District XIV director, launch his Miss Squire Shop into the murky lake. Shepherd, a veteran of RC hydroplane racing, expects between 10 and 30 of the model scale boats to show for the Dennis Holt Memorial Race.
The RC race is being scheduled over the Madison Regatta weekend to help attract more competitors to town, Shepherd said.

Announcer calling RC Hydro Race

Photo by Don Ward

An announcer calls the races as the drivers
control their boats on at Krueger Lake,
inside Jefferson Proving Ground.

“Many of the guys are into the big boats, too. It’s like the Regatta, only smaller,” he said.
Water opens for practice at 8 a.m. and racing events will begin promptly at 10 a.m. The top five point leaders at the end of three heats will advance to the final, along with the first-place finisher of the consolation race. Admission is free for spectators, but a few ground rules apply. Open-toe shoes are not allowed, and it is advised to be cautious at all times. People have been injured, though the number of injuries is considerably lower than in most motorsports.
The boats are 1/8-scale remote controlled boats that are modeled after real hydroplanes that raced in the past or are presently running in the Unlimited series. The scale models even include scale drivers.
Shepherd’s RC boat is a replica of the U-31 Miss Circus Circus that raced in San Diego in 1978. Schuman modeled his boat to be an exact replica of the Miss Squire Shop U-64 that raced in 1978, right down to the model Allison airplane engine that sits in the boat’s hull.
The RC hydro-planes are judged based on their likeness to the hydroplane they were modeled after. The RC boats are an average of 43 inches long and 18 inches wide and weigh approximately 14 pounds.

1/8 scale Miss Budweiser

Photo by Don Ward

The 1/8-scale boats are painted
to look like the real thing.

The RC hydro-planes participate in three heat races, a consolation race and a final winner-take-all race, similar to the Unlimited series. But they compete for points, never money. Reaching speeds between 60 mph and 68 mph, the RC boats are able to quickly travel around the 1/3-mile course in 18 seconds, making each six lap race an intense competition. The boats’ motors range from 4.5 hp. to 6 hp. and can turn the small propellers at 27,000 RPM.
Shepherd and his fellow club members look forward to the upcoming race and promise a good show.
“Everybody calls it Bristol when they come to Madison,” said Ted Schuman.
People of all ages are invited to watch the RC hydroplanes compete or get involved with the sport.

• For more information concerning boat registration and how to become involved in RC hydroplane racing, contact Ted Schuman at (317) 838-8812 or Doug Shepherd at (812) 265-3722.

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