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2012 H1 Unlimited Season Preview

Villwock, David face
stiff challenge from a strong field

Madison to showcase impressive
fleet of Unlimiteds this year

By Fred Farley
Special to RoundAbout

Madison, Ind., will be the place to be the weekend of July 6-8. For the 62nd year in a row, the H1 Unlimited hydroplanes will vie for the Lucas Oil Indiana Governor’s Cup on the always-challenging Ohio River.
At least a dozen of the world’s largest and fastest race boats will be on hand for the season kickoff event of the 2012 Air National Guard Hydroplane Series Tour.
When the starting gun fires on the Bill Cantrell Memorial Race Course, the community-owned Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison (U-6) and driver Steve David will renew their historic rivalry with Eric Ellstrom’s Spirit of Qatar (U-1) and driver Dave Villwock. 

Steve David

Photo courtesy of Paul Kemiel

Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss
Madison driver
Steve David recovered
from his injury while
winning the Madison
Regatta to place
second at Tri-Cities,
Wash., and then win
at Seattle last year.

At last year’s Madison Regatta, Oh Boy! Oberto won – but at a high price.
After three laps of the Final Heat, the Oberto was close behind and on the inside of Spirit of Qatar. Villwock spun out directly in front of David in the first turn of lap four, resulting in Villwock’s disqualification. Oh Boy! Oberto unavoidably ran over the Qatar, narrowly missing the cockpit area. The Oberto rolled over in mid-air and came down upright. Neither driver was seriously injured, but both boats sustained major damage.
Throughout the balance of 2011, Oh Boy! Oberto gave Spirit of Qatar plenty of competition and scored a victory in the Albert Lee Cup at Seattle. This was in spite of David having to sit out the Detroit race on account of a rib injury sustained in the crash at Madison.    
Spirit of Qatar emerged as High Point Champion in 2011 on the strength of three victories in six races. Qatar pilot Villwock made history by becoming the all-time winningest Unlimited driver by concluding the year with a career total of 65 race victories since 1992.  
The dominance of the U-1 and the U-6 not withstanding, one of the strongest fields in recent memory is shaping up to give the Qatar and the Oberto a run for their money in 2012. And that’s good news for the real winners in Unlimited racing – the fans.   
One of the sport’s most popular families will make a welcome return to the tour in 2012. The USA Racing Partners of Las Vegas last appeared in 2008 but went on a long hiatus following the death of team founder Kim Gregory. Now they’re back, under the leadership of Gregory’s widow, Debbie, and her sons, Matt and Adam. Sponsored by No. 88 Degree Men, the new driver is 2011 Rookie of the Year Scott Liddycoat, who won last year’s UIM World Champion-ship for Unlimiteds at Doha, Qatar, with the Valken.com racing team.    
Ted Porter, the winning owner of the 2008 Indiana Governor’s Cup, will be on hand with his Decatur, Ind.-based U-5, sponsored by Graham Trucking and driven by Jimmy Shane. Porter campaigned a three-boat team during the last couple of seasons but will concentrate all of his resources on a single entry in 2012. Shane, a three-time inductee into the prestigious APBA Hall of Champions, has served as Porter’s back-up driver since 2007. This is his first full-time Unlimited assignment.   

Regatta Logo

Friday, July 6:
8 a.m.:
Course Set-Up
10:30 a.m: Opening Ceremonies
10 a.m - 4 p.m.: Pit Tours
10:45 a.m. - noon: Unlimited Hydroplane Testing
Noon-1 p.m.: River open
1-2:15 p.m.: Unlimited Hydroplane Testing
2:15-3 p.m.: Vintage Hydroplanes
3-5 p.m.: Unlimited Hydroplane “Pole Position” Qualifying
5 p.m.: River open
5:15 p.m.: Fastest Unlimited Hydroplane Qualifier Awards Ceremony

Saturday, July 7:
8 a.m.:
Course Set-Up
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Pit Tours
9-10 a.m.: Vintage Hydroplanes
10:30 a.m.: Opening Ceremonies
10:45 - 11 a.m.: Air Show
11 a.m. - noon: Unlimited Hydroplane Testing
Noon-1 p.m.: River open
12:15-12:45 p.m.: Unlimited Drivers’ Autograph Session No. 1 along Vaughn Drive
1:30 p.m.: Heat 1A
2 p.m.: Heat 1B
2:30 p.m.: Heat 1C
2:50 p.m.: Awards Ceremony for heat winners
3-4 p.m.: Pit Tours
3:15-4 p.m.: Vintage Hydroplanes
4:15-5:15 p.m.: Unlimited Hydroplane Testing
5:15 p.m.: River opens
9 p.m.: River closes
9:30 p.m.: Twilight Air Show
10 p.m.: Fireworks Show

Sunday, July 8:
8 a.m.:
Course Set-Up
9 a.m.: Chapel Service
9:30 - 10 a.m.: Opening Ceremonies
10-10:20 a.m.: Air show
10:30-11:30 a.m.: Unlimited Hydroplane Testing
11:30 a.m.: River opens
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Unlimited Drivers’ Autograph Session No. 2 along Vaughn Drive
1 p.m.: Heat 2A
1:20 p.m.: Heat 2B
1:40 p.m.: Heat 2C
1:45-2:30 p.m.: Vintage Hydroplanes
2 p.m.: Awards Ceremony for heat winners
2:40 p.m.: Heat 3A
3 p.m.: Heat 3B
3:20 p.m.: Heat 3C
3:30-3:45 p.m.: Vintage Hydroplanes
3:40 p.m.: Awards Ceremony for heat winners
3:50-4:10 p.m.: Air Show
4:20 p.m.: Lucas Oil Indiana Governor’s Cup Unlimited Final Race
5:15 p.m.: Indiana Governor’s Cup Awards Presentation behind the Judge’s Stand

Madison Regatta
2011 Results

1. U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto-Miss Madison, (Steve David)
2. U-17 Miss Red Dot (Kip Brown)
3. U-7 Valken.com
(Scott Liddycoat)
4. U-5 Graham Trucking (Jeff Bernard)
5. U-96 Spirit of Qatar (Dave Villwock)
Unlimiteds race information: www.H1unlimited.com

Ticket Information
• Ticket Options: Weekend Wristbands $25. Children 10 & under are free. Souvenir Buttons: $5 good for evening admission Wednesday-Friday. Regatta Membership $25 (includes wristband).
Cold Pit Passes: $20. VIP Tent (includes table, chairs, food, drinks, program, prime viewing area) $150 adults; $50 children 6-12; children 5 & under are free. VIP Tent Plus: Includes parking & pit pass $185. RV Parking: $250; $200; $100. Tarp Spaces $40. Pit Tours $5.
Souvenir Program: $5. Purchases available online at: www.MadisonRegatta.com.
• (812) 265-5000 or 1-800-559-2956.
• Wristbands or souvenir buttons ($5) are required for admission after 6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. Wristbands required required. 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday; free after 6 p.m. Sat. for fireworks and music at riverfront; wristband required 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday.

J.W. Myers, who won the 2005 Indiana Governor’s Cup as driver for the Ellstrom team, would like nothing better than to add another Governor’s Cup to his trophy collection with U-11 Miss Peters & May, which he co-owns with Scott and Shannon Raney.
Myers says he is excited about the upcoming season. “The boat handles just fine and does everything that I want it to do. We just didn’t have time last year to work on things like engines, gearboxes and propellers that produce speed. We should be in much better shape and faster this year.”
This spring, the sport lost one of its long-time participants. U-100 racing team owner Fred Leland died of cancer on May 21. Leland’s Miss Pico took first place at the Madison Regatta in 1999. Leland’s family and team members have announced plans to continue racing with driver Greg Hopp as owner-rep. In Hopp’s words, “Fred had a wish that the team continue after he was gone. He had a plan and made arrangements for us to go on, and that’s what we will do.”
Kip Brown, driver of the U-17 Miss Red Dot, has been a rising star on the Unlimited horizon ever since winning Rookie-of-the-Year in 2008. The nephew of U-17 team leader Nate Brown, Kip finished second in the Indiana Governor’s Cup at Madison and the Bill Muncey Cup at San Diego in 2011. According to Kip Brown, “We have made progress with this team every year since it was created. This year, we think we have a chance to take this thing to the next level.”
Anyone who is familiar with the history of the Madison Regatta knows of Billy Schumacher. As a young man in his 20s, Schumacher was a two-time Governor’s Cup winner in 1967-68 as pilot of Miss Bardahl. Schumacher would love to duplicate that feat as owner of the U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing with driver J. Michael Kelly. Schumacher reports that his crew will have two newly refurbished turbine engines and a back-up motor that will travel with the team. Three gear boxes and more gear ratios will give the crew more options for setting up the boat along with five race-ready propellers.
Returning as a full-time participant on the H1 national tour is the U-9 Jones Racing Team, owned by Mike, Lori and Casey Jones. The Joneses will campaign a completely refurbished race boat that will be driven by Jon Zimmerman. This is the hull that raced at Detroit in 2011 as the Oh Boy! O’Berto back-up hull after the primary hull was damaged at Madison. 
Veteran driver Mark Evans from Chelan, Wash., has made the transition to driver-owner with his purchase of the U-57 Formulaboats.com that he drove in 2011 for Porter. Mark’s brother, Mitch Evans, is a co-owner of the boat and serves as crew chief, while Chelan resort owner John Walcker acts as team manager.
Mark says that he likes the way the U-57 handles. “It’s a good fit for us, and I am confident that we can get another 5 to 10 percent out of the performance and be a little more competitive.”
Madison Regatta fans shouldn’t have any trouble recognizing the U-22 Matrix System rom Reading, Pa. The U-22 raced as the community-owned U-6 Miss Madison from 1988-2006 before being sold to Steve and Mike Webster last year. As driver for the U-22 team, Mike Webster earned 2009 Rookie of the Year honors in the Unlimited category. 
After sitting out the 2011 campaign, Dave Bartush’s U-13 Spirit of Detroit returns to active duty in 2012. Bartush has announced plans to combine forces with Dr. Ken Muscatel’s Superior Racing of Seattle. Equipment and personnel from both teams will be involved in the operation. The boat has undergone a substantial rebuild. This includes the removal of decks and the tightening of frames where needed.
By far the most unusual entry in the 2012 Madison Regatta is Kelly Stocklin’s U-18 Bucket List Racing, a hull that was originally automotive-powered and built for the now-defunct G Class series. Stocklin will utilize a Lycoming T-53 turbine engine, as opposed to the traditional T-55 L7C. The T-53 generates around 1,400 horsepower, compared to 2,650 horsepower for the T-55. The U-18 will tip the scales at around 4,000 pounds, which is considerably less than the 6,575-pound minimum required of the T-55 boats. An avowed experiment, Stocklin’s goal is “to be able to qualify, start and finish, and see where that takes us.”

• Fred Farley is a Milton, Ky., resident and serves as the H1 Unlimited historian. Email him at fredf@hotmail.com.

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