2005 Llumar Window Film Music City Hydrofest

Llumar Window Film Wins At Nashville

By Fred Farley - APRA Unlimited Historian

The sixth stop on the 2005 ABRA Unlimited hydroplane series tour marked the second straight triumph in the current campaign for U-8 LLumar Window Film owner Bill Wurster and driver Jean Theoret on September 11 in the Music City Hydrofest at Nashville, Tennessee.

The LLumar team had won the Chevrolet Cup on August 7 at Seattle.

Theoret and the LLumar were actually fourth over the finish line in the five-lap final heat on J. Percy Priest Lake. But the three front mnners, U-16 Ellstrom with Dave Villwock, U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto with Steve David, and U-13 Spirit of Detroit with Terry Troxell, were all assessed penalty laps for various infractions.

The race was a heartbreaker for Jimmy King, driver of the unnamed U-3. King and the Allison-powered craft were the legal leaders after four and three-quarter laps in the final heat when a broken propeller shaft sidelined them just short of the checkered flag.

The corrected order of finish was LLumar first, Oberto second, Spirit of Detroit third, and Ellstrom fourth.

Nine unlimiteds attended the inaugural event on Priest Lake — the exact same boats that appeared in Seattle with the exception of Fred Leland's U-60 and U-99. They were joined at Nashville by a fleet of 5-Litre and vintage inboards and two classes of OPC tunnel outboards.

For a first-year effort, the Nashville committee did a commendable job. Many familiar faces from the Evansville, Madison, and Detroit committees were on hand to lend their expertise to the new group.

The physical layout of the Music City Hydrofest was not without its challenges. The racecourse was invisible to those in the working pits. And the problem of the lack of adequate spectator viewing areas needed to be addressed.

The water was calm all three days and ideal for racing. Weather conditions were sunny and warm.

A sizeable flotilla of spectator craft tied up to the log boom, located just beyond the backstretch turn.

The qualification period produced some remarkable speeds on the approximate 2-mile egg-shaped course, which featured an 1,155-foot first turn and a 682-foot second turn.

The wide sweeping first turn allowed the boats to run almost as fast as on the straight-aways.

Dave Villwock and Ellstrom qualified fastest at 171.796. LLumar and the unnamed U-3 were next qualifying almost 8 mph slower. Oberto, Ken Muscatel and U-25 Superior Racing, Greg Hopp driving U-100 Miss Beacon Plumbing, Spirit of Detroit, J. Michael Kelly in U-2 Graham Trucking, and Mike Weber in U-5 Formula Powerboats also qualified.

A couple of rookie drivers made their first appearances in an unlimited hydroplane at Nashville. On Friday, Kevin Aylesworth tested the U-25 and turned a lap of 147.269. Mike Allen took out the U-5 on Saturday and did 141.612.

The "Madison Plan," featured at the 2005 Madison Regatta, was used at Nashville. This is the format developed by U-6 representative owner Bob Hughes that does away with the blind draw, based upon qualification speeds.

U-6, U-13, and U-16 were placed in heat 1-A, U-3, U-25, and U-2 in heat 1-B, and U-8, U-5, and U-100 in heat 1-C.

U-3, U-6, and U-5 appeared in heat 2-A, U-13, U-100, and U-25 in heat 2-B, and U-8, U-2, and U-16 in heat 2-C.

U-6, U-13, and U-2 found themselves in heat 3-A, U-100, U-5, and U-l 6 in heat 3-B, and U-3, U-8, and U-25 in heat 3-C.

The boats would be competing for four spots on the front line and one trailer boat position in the final heat.

All preliminary heats were three laps and the final heat was five laps at Nashville. An exhibition heat of four laps was run on Friday for the purpose of testing the water under competitive conditions.

In the ten heats run on Sunday, September 11, the boats finished 30 out of 32 heats. There was only one DNF (U-3 in the Final) and only one DNS (U-5 in 3-B).

Exhibition Heat

It was a blanket start with LLumar in lane 1 and Oh Boy! Oberto in lane 4 crossing together. Jean Theoret led out of the first turn, followed by Steve David. Graham Trucking then passed Oberto and LLumar and led by several boat lengths at the end of lapl. LLumar reclaimed the lead on lap 2 and led J. Michael Kelly by one roostertail length after lap 2 and through lap 3. LLumar then pulled away from Graham and won by two roostertail lengths. Oberto and Muscatel in Superior Racing trailed.

Heat 1

It was a ragged start in 1A with Oberto first across in lane 3. Spirit of Detroit led through the first turn, but passed by Ellstrom on the first backstretch. Dave Villwock pulled away and into a substantial lead on lap 2. David challenged Troxell for second-place on lap 2 before Spirit of Detroit pulled away on lap 3.

In 1B, Graham Trucking and U-3 crossed together, but jumped the gun. Superior Racing made a belated start, three quarters of a lap behind the "leaders." U-3 "led" Graham by a roostertail after lap 1 and then pulled away. Jimmy King began making up ground on Muscatel. U-3 trailed Superior Racing by five roostertails on the final backstretch and moved to within one roostertail length at the finish line. Graham trailed in third.

There was a scattered start in 1C with Beacon Plumbing first across in lane-two. LLumar, in lane 1, led out of the first turn and throughout. LLumar had a substantial lead at the end of lap-one. Formula Powerboat challenged Beacon for second-place and stayed within Greg Hopp's roostertail all three laps.

Heat 2

Oberto was first across in lane-two 2A after an uneven start. David led out of the first turn and throughout the heat. U-3 stayed within Oberto's roostertail all three laps, while Formula finished last.

Beacon Plumbing crossed first just ahead of Spirit of Detroit in 2B. Superior Racing slowed in the score-up turn and started a half lap behind. Hopp led Troxell until the exit buoy of the second turn of lap 1. Spirit of Detroit led by a boat length at the end of lap 1, by a roostertail length after lap 2, and by two roostertails at the checkered flag. Superior Racing trailed last.

Ellstrom was first across starting 2C. Villwock pulled away into a commanding lead on the first backstretch. Second-place Graham Trucking finished lap 1 about two feet ahead of LLumar. Theoret then took over second-place and went on to lead Kelly by two roostertails at the end of lap 3.

Heat 3

Spirit of Detroit crossed the line first in lane 2 starting 3A. Oberto caught up with Spirit of Detroit and led out of the first turn. David led Troxell by one and a half roostertails after lap 1 and then pulled away on lap 2. Third-place Graham Trucking tried to make up ground on Spirit of Detroit but was unable to do so.

Formula Powerboat returned to the pits during the one-minute period in 3B. Ellstrom (outside) and Beacon (inside) crossed together. Hopp led through the first turn but Villwock led out of it and throughout. Ellstrom ran on the extreme outside all three laps. Beacon ran close to the buoy line but still couldn't catch Ellstrom, which won by one and a half roostertails.

It was a blanket start in 3C with U-3 first across in lane 2. King led through the first turn but LLumar led out of it. Theoret led King by a roostertail length after lap 1, by one and a half roostertails after lap 2, and by three roostertails after lap 3. Superior Racing ran an extra lap for missing the 40-second score-up buoy.

After three sets of preliminary heats,

Ellstrom led with 1,200 points, followed by LLumar with 1,100, Oh Boy! Oberto with 1,025, and Spirit of Detroit with 1,000. These were admitted to the front line in the final heat. U-3 and Beacon Plumbing tied with 900 points for the trailer boat position. U-3 was chosen on the basis of faster qualification speed.

Beacon was designated as the alternate.

Final Heat

The warm-up period for final proved the undoing for three of the five entrants. Ellstrom, Oh Boy! Oberto, and Spirit of Detroit all jumped the 40-second score-up buoy and were penalized a lap. Moreover, Villwock incurred an additional one-lap penalty for being off plane prior to the starting gun.

The start was very ragged with only Oberto (inside) and Ellstrom (outside) anywhere close to the starting line. Oberto "led" out of the first turn, followed by "second-place" Ellstrom. David led Villwock by one second at the end of lap 1, followed by Spirit of Detroit, U-3, and LLumar in that order. Ellstrom took over the "lead" on lap 2 and pulled away.

With four down and one lap remaining, the legally leading U-3 appeared to have the race in hand with second-place LLumar far behind. Then that certain "something" occurred, which sent the Ed Cooper-owned entry into the DNF category with drive train failure 1,000 yards from the finish line.

Jean Theoret and LLumar inherited the lead and claimed the victory, followed by Oh Boy! Oberto, Spirit of Detroit, and Ellstrom to wind up the day's racing and affirm the Biblical proverb: "The last will be first and the first last."

LLumar owner Bill Wurster now has eight wins in the Unlimited Class since 1985. This is the first time that he has won two races back-to-back (Seattle and Nashville).

Driver Jean Theoret is shaping up as one of the most successful rookies in unlimited history. Only Howie Benns, who won three races in 1974 with Miss Budweiser (7), has more victories during his rookie season.

Ellstrom owner Erick Ellstrom experienced disappointment in not winning at Nashville, but consoled himself by clinching the 2005 ABRA National Boat Championship with former driver J.W. Myers and current pilot Dave Villwock. This marks the tenth consecutive year that Villwock has driven for a National Championship team.

With one race (San Diego) remaining on the 2005 calendar, the ABRA Driver Championship was still up for grabs. Oh Boy! Oberto pilot Steve David had a slim lead over Theoret, 7195 points to 6795.

(Unlimited NewsJournal, October 2005)