up the field
to race 11 Unlimiteds for 2006
three former Bud boats in field
(June 2006) The new American Boat Racing Association
has proven itself in the past two years and this year will field up
to 11 Unlimiteds at Madison, including three former Budweiser boats
that promise to be a competitive show.
Unlimited Race Schedule
Ind. Thunder on Ohio June 23-25
Madison, Ind. Madison Regatta July 1-2
Valleyfield, QC Les Regates July 7-9
Detroit APBA Gold July 14-16
Tri-Cities, Wash.Columbia Cup July 28-30
Seattle Chev. Cup-Seafair Aug. 4-6
San Diego Bill Muncey Cup Sept. 15-17
For more information, visit: www.abrahydroplanes.com.
After nearly being dissolved in 2004 following a split
over numerous issues, the team owners regrouped to form the ABRA under
the leadership of executive director Sam Cole. Cole promised to field
eight boats per race, and made good on that promise.
After a divisive 2004 in which there were two competing race organizations
battling over supremacy, last year the ABRA put on a solid showing with
seven well administered races and this year returns with more sponsors
backing more teams. The ABRA did away with controversial fuel restrictions
and assigned starting lanes that had been instituted by the previous
series owner, Hydro-Prop Inc.
The ABRA season opened June 23-25 in Evansville, Ind., and up to 11
Unlimiteds could compete the following weekend in Madison. In addition,
Madison Regatta race chairman Joe Johnson says 11 vintage, two Jersey
Skiffs and nine 2.5 stocks are expected. This will be the fifth year
for the Bob Snelling Vintage Memorial Event. Johnson said five of the
vintage boats coming to the Regatta were built by famed builder Henry
Lauterbach, who died June 1 at age 87.
by Don Ward
Miss Madison crew
gets Steve David
(in cockpit) ready to race.
Many team ownership changes for 2006
During the offseason, nearly one-third of the Unlimited hydroplane fleet
owners were shuffled.
The former Miss Budweiser T-3, T-5 and T-6 hulls will be returning to
Madison this season under new names. Owner Ted Porters Precision
Performance Engineering of Decatur, Ind., recently bought two hulls
T-5 and T-6 from Bud team owner Joe Little.
They are designated as U-5 (former T-6) and U-7 (former T-5) and will
be sponsored by Formula Boats. Mike Weber will drive the U-5 and rookie
Mike Allen will drive the U-7.
During a June 19 ABRA teleconference call, Weber said the two drivers
already are feeling the heat. Obviously, theres a little
bit of pressure involved. Mike Allen and I have a lot to learn about
how to drive these boats and set them up. And weve got some rookie
crew members, but were looking forward to the challenge.
Kim Gregory of Las Vegas bought the former Bud T-3 hull and is racing
it as the U-10 boat this season with Nate Brown at the helm. Gregory
took last season off but has returned to the sport for 2006.
The third ownership change is the sale of Bill Wursters former
U-8 hydro to former Unlimited champion Billy Schumacher of Seattle.
Now 63, Schumacher was the youngest driver to win the Gold Cup and national
championship. His team will compete as U-37 Miss Seattle with Canadian
Jean Theoret at the helm and, except for its ownership, hasnt
changed much from last years run as the Llumar Window Films boat.
Former Miss Bud-weiser driver and seven-time national points champion
Dave Villwock returns to Madison this year to drive the U-1 Miss Elam
Plus. He took over in midseason last year for J.W. Myers and led the
team to its first-ever national championship for owner Sven Ellstrom
of Seattle. Myers won in Madison but had a blowover at Detroit, ending
his term in the cockpit last year. Out west, Villwock stepped in and
won two races enough to clinch the season team points title.
This year, Villwock had an early scare June 1 when he nearly crashed
the Unlimited during a testing run on Seattles Lake Washington.
The near-accident occurred with a safety patrol boat inadvertently drove
onto the course and created a severe wake, which Villwock then had to
negotiate at 170 mph without flipping.
Fred Leland is expected to send his U-100 to the eastern U.S. races
Evansville, Madison and Detroit with Greg Hopp
driving. Hopp and his father, Jerry, also compete together in the Unlimited
Lights series, where Greg is a three-time national high points champion.
New entries this year include the U-13 Spirit of Detroit,
owned by Dave Bartush, and the newly formed U-21 Freedom Racing Team,
co-owned by San Diegos Jeff Johnson and driver Kevin Aylesworth.
The Freedom Racing Team has bought and renovated Ken Muscatels
former boat. Muscatel, meanwhile, of Seattle is leasing and driving
a Jim Harvey-owned boat, designated the U-2.
Terry Troxell gave up his seat to J. Michael Kelly in the U-13 for the
Evansville race because he is still awaiting clearance from the ABRA
to drive following two minor strokes he suffered Sept. 27. Troxell plans
to drive the boat in Madison. Last year, Troxell took over driving duties
for the U-13 just a week before winning the Chrysler-Jeep Superstores
APBA Gold Cup in Detroit.
U-6 Miss Madison in gear
The U-6 Oh Boy! OBerto-Miss Madison, meanwhile, has been undergoing
renovations in the offseason in preparation for another run at the season
title. Steve David, who won the 2005 season opener at Evansville and
went on to earn the driver high points championship, returns for his
sixth year at the helm of the worlds only community-owned Unlimited
The South Florida resident, remembered for his winning the hometown
boats Madison Regatta in 2001, works in the offseason as a college
instructor and realtor. As a driver last season, he managed to earn
a podium finish in all but one race last year while driving one of the
tours oldest hulls. As a result, the Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison
finished the year in second place in team high points.
During the teleconference call, David said he is excited about the level
of competition he faces this year, calling it perhaps the toughest ever.
The competition is the deepest its ever been in the sport. Every
heat youre running its like a final, David said.
To get ready, he said the Miss Madison team has completely rebuilt
the boat the gear ratios, the engine, the hull were
as competitive as weve ever been, and we have to be to go up against
this level of competition... Were doing everything we can to win.
David said the Miss Madison hull, one of the oldest turbines in the
field, has a narrower hull than the newer boats, which feature a more
triangular hull, making it easier to keep air underneath. The Madison
team, therefore, must be creative to add speed when competing against
these newer designs.
Specifically, the team has replaced nearly the entire right side of
the boat, rebuilt a faulty gear box, and replaced the bottom rear hull
section that had been damaged in the season-ending race at San Diego
when a prop lost a blade during the final.
In the offseason, the Miss Madison team made an offer on one of the
former Budweiser hulls but was unable to come up with the amount of
money needed to buy it. David said in the conference call he wasnt
disappointed and was happy to see Webers team obtain two hulls.
Mike Weber and (team owner) Ted Porter both have a legacy, and
it couldnt have gone to a better group of people, David
Weber, meanwhile, called his teams acquisition of two former Bud
boats a dream come true.
David said this season will also be great for the fans, since it no
longer is the Budweiser boat and the rest of the field on the water.
They used to say its the red boat (to win) unless they break
something, but this year its wide open... You wont see any
runaways in points. It will be close.
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