2005 Thunderboat Regatta

Miss E-Lam Plus Wins Bill Muncey Cup

By Fred Farley - ABRA Unlimited Historian

The seventh and final stop on the 2005 Unlimited hydroplane series tour marked the third triumph of the current campaign for Miss E-Lam Plus owner Erick Ellstrom—his second with driver Dave Villwock—on September 18 in the Bill Muncey Cup on San Diego's Mission Bay.

Ellstrom had previously won the Tri-Cities Columbia Cup with Villwock and the Indiana Governor's Cup at Madison with former driver J.W. Myers.

Villwock and Miss E-Lam Plus (U-16) fought off an early challenge in the Final Heat at San Diego from Jean Theoret in LLumar Window Film (U-8) and Steve David in Oh Boy! Oberto (U-6) but eventually pulled away to a commanding lead and powered on to victory.

LLumar took second, followed by Terry Troxell in Spirit of Detroit (U-13), Ken Muscatel in Mister Home Loan (U-25), and J. Michael Kelly in Graham Trucking (U-2). Oberto and Formulaboats.com (U-5) with Mike Weber failed to finish.

The Ellstrom team had already clinched the ABRA High Point Boat Championship the week before at the Music City Hydrofest in Nashville, Tennessee.

Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison driver David claimed the ABRA High Point Driver Championship at San Diego on the strength of winning all three preliminary heats on Mission Bay. This marked the first time in 45 years that a Miss Madison pilot has ever won the High Point title in the Unlimited Class.

David accumulated 8455 points in 2005, compared to 7892 for second-place Theoret and 6315 for third-place Jimmy King, driver of Ed Cooper's U-3.

Nine Unlimiteds attended the San Diego event -- the exact same boats that participated at Nashville.

Villwock and Miss E-Lam Plus posted the fastest qualification lap at San Diego with a speed of 166.364 over the 2.5-miie course. King and the unnamed U-3 were second fastest at 159.007, ahead of Theoret and LLumar Window Film, which did 158.027.

Then came David and Oh Boy! Oberto at 156.025, Troxell and Spirit of Detroit at 149.732, Weber and Formulaboats.com at 146.489, Muscatel and Mister Home Loan at 143.424. Greg Hopp and Lady Lexus (U-100) at 140.576, and Kelly and Graham Trucking at 130.000 (N2).

The San Diego race committee inexplicably billed the 2005 event as "the 40th annual Unlimited race" in that city, when in fact this was only the 39th since 1964. (San Diego was not on the Unlimited schedule in 1971, '72, and '73.)

Victory in the Unlimited Light hydroplane race at San Diego went to Hopp and Mike's Hard Lemonade (UL-1), followed by Paul Droullard in American Eagle (UL-9) and Al Carstensen in BCS Racing (UL-6).

A serious accident involving Kevin Aylesworth and the Freedom Racing (UL-5) marred the running of the B-Main for the Unlimited Lights. The UL-5 blew end over end, while contending for high position on lap-one, and landed upside-down. The safety canopy saved Aylesworth's life. Kevin was able to free himself from the overturned craft, but he ingested a lot of salt water into his lungs.

Aylesworth was airlifted to a local hospital in critical but stable condition. He is expected to recover completely.

Two days prior to his accident, on Friday, September 16, Kevin announced his team's purchase of the entire U-25 racing team equipment inventory from Ken Muscatel.

Heat 1-A (1) U-16; (2) U-13; (3) U-3; (4) U-25; (5) U-8.

U-25 hit a buoy during the warm-up period and received a one-lap penalty. It was a blanket start with U-13 first across in lane-five. U-3 and U-8 crumpled sponsons in the first turn and both received a penalty lap for rough driving. U-16 pulled away to a commanding lead by the end of lap-one. The physical order after three laps was U-16, U-8, U-13, U-3, and U-25.

U-16 was subsequently found to have a fuel flow violation and received no points for its performance in Heat 1-A.

U-8 pilot Theoret did not know of his penalty lap on account of a faulty radio and returned to the pits after completion of the three regulation laps. U-8 was subsequently awarded fifth-place points by Chief Referee Don Mellilo.

Both U-3 and U-8 suffered extensive damage in Heat 1-A. U-3 had to withdraw from the race. U-8 was able to continue but only after an all-night repair session.

Heat 1-B (1) U-6; (2) U-2; (3) U-5; (DNS) U-100.

U-100 stopped in the upper turn before the start. U-6 crossed first, followed by U-2 and U-5. U-6 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-2 stayed withingn U-6's roostertail length throughout lap-one. U-6 pulled away from U-2 on lap-two. U-5 trailed way back.

Heat 2-A (1) U-6; (2) U-13; (3) U-5; (4) U-100.; (Withdrawn) U-3.

U-5 and U-100 both jumped the gun in Heat 2-A. U-6 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-5 was physically "second" all the way. U-6 led U-5 by one roostertail length after laps one and two. U-6 then pulled away on lap-three. U-13 passed U-100 on the second backstretch. The physical order after three laps was U-6, U-5, U-13, and U-100.

Heat 2-B (1) U-16; (2) U-8; (3) U-25; (4) U-2.

U-16, on the extreme outside, reached the first turn first in Heat 2-B. U-16 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-25, in second-place, led third-place U-8 by a boat length at the end of lap-one. U-8 passed U-25 on lap-two and pulled away. U-8 began to close in on U-16 during lap-three but fell one and a half roostertail lengths short. U-2 trailed way back.

Heat 3-A (1) U-6; (2) U-2; (DNS) U-100; (DNS) U-5.

U-6 and U-2 exited the first turn of Heat 3-A together and ran side-by-side down the first backstretch. U-6 led U-2 by half a roostertail length alter laps one and two and by a full roostertail after lap-three. U-100 conked out during the warm-up period. U-5 had a gearbox problem and never left the pits.

U-6 pilot Steve David, having clinched the national driving championship, made a victory lap and waved to the crowd before returning to the pits.

Heat 3-B (1) U-16; (2) U-8; (3) U-25; (4) U-13.

U-13, in lane-four, jumped the gun in Heat 3-B. U-16, in lane-three, was the first legal starter. U-16 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-16 led U-8 by two roostertails after lap-one and by three roostertails at the end of the race. U-13 was a distant "third" behind U-16 and U-8. U-25 was a distant "fourth."

After three sets of preliminary heats, Oh Boy! Oberto (U-6) had 1200 accumulated points, followed by Miss E-Lam Plus (U-16) with 800, Graham Trucking (U-2) with 769, Spirit of Detroit (U-13) with 769, LLumar Window Film (U-8) with 727, and Mister Home Loan (U-25) with 619. These were admitted to the five-lap Final Heat, together with the trailer-boat, Formulaboats.com (U-5), which had 450 points and was required to start two seconds behind the rest of the field.

Final Heat (1) U-l 6; (2) U-8; (3) U-13; (4) U-25; (5) U-2; (DNF) U-5; (DNF) U-6.

U-6 was first across the starting line in the winner-take-all Final Heat. U-6 and U-16 ran together through the first turn. U-16 led out of the first turn, followed closely by U-8 and U-6. At the end of lap-one, the U-16, the U-8, and the U-6 were two roostertails apart. U-6 went down in the first turn of lap-two with a thrown propeller blade.

U-16 and U-8, running a roostertail apart, went on to finish far ahead of the other boats. U-16 averaged 145.784 to U-8's 143.631 for the 12½ miles. U-13 took third at 128.865, followed by U-25 and U-2 with U-5 conking out on lap-five.U-2 owner Jim Harvey protested that his boat was "cut off' by the U-8 in the second (upper) turn of lap-one in the Final Heat. But Referee Mellilo ruled (after lengthy deliberation) that no such infraction had occurred.

Miss E-Lam Plus driver Villwock increased his victory total in the Unlimited Class to 48 at San Diego. Only the late Bill Muncey (who has 62) and the retired Chip Hanauer (who has 61) have more wins.

Villwock has now won seven times on Mission Bay since 1992—once with Coors Dry, once with PICO AMerican Dream, and four times with Miss Budweiser.

Owner Erick Ellstrom now has two San Diego triumphs, the first in 2001 with driver Nate Brown.

The Bill Muncey Cup Regatta concluded the inaugural ABRA Unlimited season. The seven races were won by four different teams and five different drivers.

The Ellstrom team will carry the coveted U-1 designation in 2006.

(Thunderboat, November 2005)