2010 Air National Guard Championship

San Diego

by Fred Farley - H1 Unlimited Historian

The fifth stop on the 2010 H1 Unlimited Series tour emerged as a triumph for the Spirit of Qatar (U-96) team, owner Erick Ellstrom, and driver Dave Villwock. On September 19, they captured the Air Guard Championship Presented by Degree Men on San Diego's Mission Bay with victories in all four heats.

This was the 61st win in the Unlimited Class since 1992 for Villwock, who is now tied with the retired Chip Hanauer. Only the late Bill Muncey (with 62 wins) has more.

Villwock now has eight victories on Mission Bay, which is twice as many as Hanauer who has four.

The Seattle-based U-96 moved to within 186 National High Points of front-running Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison (U-1), which finished second at San Diego with Steve David driving.

J. Michael Kelly finished third in the winner-take-all Final Heat on Mission Bay with Air Guard (U-7), followed by Jeff Bernard in Formulaboats.com (U-5), Jon Zimmerman in Degree Men (U-37), and Mark Evans in Formulaboats.com II (U-57).

Twelve teams attended the 43rd annual H1 Unlimited event after a one-year hiatus in San Diego.

Spirit of Qatar qualified fastest at a speed of 162.604 on the 2.5-mile salt water course. Oh Boy! Oberto was next at 161.696.

Then came Red Dot (U-17) with Kip Brown at 156.540, Air Guard with Kelly at 155.376, Formulaboats.com with Bernard at 154.921, Mirageboats.com (U-100) with Greg Hopp at 151.911, All Access Rentals (U-21) with Brian Perkins at 148.890, Miss Peters & May (U-25) with Dr. Ken Muscatel at 147.015, Alternative Automotive Technologies (U-13) with Cal Phipps at 145.656, Degree Men with Zimmerman at 143.449, Great Scott! (U -22) with Mike Webster at 141.819, and Formulaboats.com II with Evans at 139.097.

All active military and reservists were admitted for free to the San Diego race. In the words of H1 Unlimited Chairman Sam Cole, "I was impressed by the number of servicemen and women that attended. For some, it was the first time that they had seen these boats run in person. I tried to shake as many hands as I could to thank them for their service to the country."

Race week at San Diego was marred by an on-shore accident to U-57 crew chief Jim Harvey who fell off the boat and suffered serious injuries.

All preliminary heats consisted of three laps; the Final Heat comprised five laps. Heats 1-A and 1-B were run on Saturday, September 18; the remaining heats were contested on the following day.


(1) U-5; (2) U-100; (3) U-17; (4) U-21; (DNF) U-57; (DNS) U-13.

A ragged start with U-5 first across in lane-one. U-5 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-5 led second-place U-100 by a roostertail length for two and a half laps. U-5 stretched its lead to two roostertails at the finish line. U-17 ran a steady third. U-21 trailed. U-57 spun out after three-quarters of a lap and U-13 did not launch.


(1) U-96; (2) U-1; (3) U-7; (4) U-25; (5) U-37; (6) U-22.

A ragged start with U-96 first across in lane-one with U-1 close behind in lane-two. U-96 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-96 led U-1 by a roostertail length after lap-one and pulled away on lap-two. U-7 ran a steady third, far ahead of fourth-place U-25. U-37 made a very belated start but managed to overtake U-22 to place fifth.

The water was very rough for both Heats 1-A and 1-B.


(1) U-96; (2) U-7; (3) U-5; (4) U-22; (5) U-57; (6) U-25.

Pilot Mark Evans relinquished the U-57 cockpit to back-up driver Jimmy Shane for Heat 2-A. This was to allow Shane to maintain his Unlimited Class eligibility.

A blanket start with U-25 first across in lane-one. U-7 and U-96 ran together down the first backstretch and were dead even at the end of lap-one. U-7 and U-96 see-sawed for the lead throughout laps two and three with U-7 on the inside and U-96 on the outside. U-96 won by barely a boat length. U-5, U-22, U-57, and U-25 trailed. U-25 finished under reduced power.


(1) U-1; (2) U-21; (3) U-37; (DSQ) U-100; (DNF) U-17; (DNS) U-13.

A blanket start with U-21 first across in lane-one. U-1 passed U-21 in the first turn and pulled away on the first backstretch. U-100 passed U-21 and moved into second-place on the first backstretch. The boats spread out on lap-two. U-37 trailed. U-17 stopped after three-quarters of a lap. U-13 did not launch. U-100 was disqualified for an N2 violation.


(1) U-96; (2) U-1; (3) U-37; (4) U-57; (DNF) U-22; (DNS) U-5.

A blanket start with U-1 and U-96 crossing together. U-96 had lane-one; U-1 occupied lane-two. U-96 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-1 trailed U-96 by half a roostertail length after lap-one. U-96 pulled away on lap-two and finished two rooster-tails ahead of U-1 after three laps. U-37 and U-57 dueled for third and fourth with U-37 taking it by half a roostertail. U-22 stopped on lap-one. U-5 did not start.


(1) U-7; (2) U-25; (DSQ) U-100; (DSQ) U-13; (DNS) U-21; (DNS) U-17.

A blanket start with U-7 first across in lane-one. U-7 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-100 stayed within U-7's roostertail length throughout lap-one. U-7 pulled away on lap-two. U-13 and U-25 battled for third and fourth for one lap before U-13 pulled away. U-100 was disqualified for an N2 violation. U-13 was disqualified for a fuel flow violation. U-25 was physically fourth on the race course but officially second after the disqualifications to U-100 and U-13. U-21 did not start. U-17 did not launch.

After three sets of preliminary heats, Spirit of Qatar (U-96) had 1200 points for three first-place finishes. Oh Boy!

Oberto (U-1) had 1000 for one first and two seconds. Air Guard (U-7) had 925 for a first, a second, and a third. Formulaboats.com (U-5) had 625 for a first, a third, and a DNS. Degree Men (U-37) had 577 for two thirds and one fifth. Miss Peters & May (U-25) had 564 for a second, a fourth, and a sixth. These six were admitted to the front line in the Final Heat. Formulaboats.com II (U-57), with 296 points, was designated as the trailer boat on the strength of a fourth, a fifth, and a DNF.


(1) U-96; (2) U-1; (3) U-7; (4) U-5; (5) U-37; (6) U-57; (DNS) U -25.

The lane choices for the Final Heat, from inside out, were U-96, U-1, U-7, U-5, U-37, U-25, and U-57 in that order. U-25 pulled back into the pits during the 5-minute warm-up period and did not make a legal start.

A blanket start with U-7 first across in lane-three. U-96 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-1 stayed within U-96's roostertail length for two and a half laps. U-96 pulled away from U-1 on lap -four. The rest of the field trailed far behind the two frontrunners. U-7 checked in third, ahead of U-5, U-37, and U-57.

Dave Villwock and U-96 reeled off laps of 155, 152, 156, 153, and 149 in the finale; Steve David and U-1 did 150, 153, 153, 148, and 146.

U-96 averaged 153.551 for the 12.5-mile Final Heat distance, compared to 150.491 for second-place U-1 and 143.558 for third-place U-7.

The Final Heat is historically significant as the only time that three boats (the U-5, the U-7, and the U-57) with the same owner (Ted Porter) have ever finished a Final Heat in the Unlimited Class during the post-World War II era.

Spirit of Qatar had previously won the Gold Cup at Detroit in 2010, while Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison took first-place in the Indiana Governor's Cup at Madison, the Tri-Cities Columbia Cup at Kennewick (Washington), and the Albert Lee Cup at Seattle.

With one race remaining on the 2010 H1 Unlimited calender (in Doha, Qatar), Oh Boy! Oberto (U-1) had a total of 7639 National High Points, compared to 7453 for Spirit of Qatar (U-96) and 6347 for Air Guard (U-7).

Air Guard Championship Bayfair Bill Muncey Cup
September 18-19,
San Diego, CA
2½ mile course on Mission Bay
U-96 Spirit of Qatar, Dave Villwock 1700
U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David 1380
U-7 Air Guard, J. Michael Kelly 1210
U-5 Formulaboats.com, Jeff Bernard 844
U-37 Degree Men, Jon Zimmerman 734
U-57 Formulaboats.com, Mark Evans, Jimmy Shane 421
U-25 Miss Peters & May, Ken Muscatel 594
U-21 All Access Rentals, Brian Perkins 499
U-100 0 Mirageboats.com, Greg Hopp 340
U-17 Miss Red Dot, Kip Brown 295
U-22 Great Scott!, Mike Webster 294
U-13 Alternative Automotive Technologies, Cal Phipps 30


[Reprinted from Thunderboat, November 2010]