Historic Day for Female Driver
Bianca Bononcini, the first female driver in more than three decades on the Air National Guard Hydroplane Series, began the qualification process by running four laps on the Detroit River.
Bononcini was all smiles when she pulled up to the dock and the fans cheered the historic moment. One of the first to greet her was driver N. Mark Evans, who is serving as a driving mentor to Bononcini.
"I can't wait to get out there again, play with the wing a little bit and see what I can do," she said. "I was just trying to get a feel for the boat and the turning. I've never gone speeds like this or in a boat this big. I'm just trying to figure it out and enjoy it."
Bononcini did four laps around the 2.5-mile course with her best speed of 126.829 mph coming on the last lap. Team owner Ted Porter told his driver to take it slow and get comfortable behind the wheel.
"I think Bianca did a great job," Porter said. "We were holding her back a little bit but the boat can do more than that. She's doing real fine getting used to it. She wants to go faster but we're taking it in baby steps."
Evans is the primary driver for the Formulaboats.com boat and has been working with Bononcini. He was excited that she got a chance to run during testing.
"Bianca has been very focused," Evans. "I'm happy, she was nervous at first, of course. But I think it's really cool her first run was on the Gold Cup course cause this is one of the toughest in the world."
Bononcini's father, Philip, was proud to watch his daughter get her big break.
"She didn't sleep much last night, she was kind of nervous," Philip said. "I guess my job was to keep her as calm as possible."
Bononcini hopes to become the Air National Guard Series' regular female driver since the early 1980s.
July 9th, 2011