2010 Jarvis Restoration Detroit APBA Gold Cup

101st Gold Cup Goes to Villwock in Sweep

Steve David takes second, JW Myers crashes in Detroit Classic

It’s always nice to be at the River when it’s Gold Cup time in Detroit. The blue sky with white, puffy clouds over the gorgeous blue water and the Detroit Yacht Club standing across the way. Meeting old friends and sharing the day. It makes for great memories. It’s even better when the boat racing is good.

Some fans didn’t think this year’s edition of the ABPA Gold Cup measured up. Others loved it. But, any way you look at it, the 101st running of the classic race is now in the books.

Eleven of the world’s fastest Unlimited hydroplanes set up camp in the Horace Dodge pits, next to the fabled Roostertail night club/restaurant/ banquet hall, which is next to Sindbad’s, which is next to Kean’s. Ah, the warm memories offered up by these places make it an event no matter how the races turn out.

Dr. William Black brought his Gale V replica to town for added spice. Fred Alter had his Miss Vernors replica there. Jerry Schoenith, Tom D’Eath, Billy Schumacher, Danny Foster. Standing in the middle of all this is Nirvana to a boat racing fan.

Now, to the race!

The Gold Cup course was lengthened this year to avoid the Scott Middle ground, the sand bar in the center of the river. The length was announced as 2.75 miles - an odd distance from the usual 2½ or 3-mile ovals. But, the DRRA had it measured and certified, so it was a record course. Needless to say, the boats would be flying.

Dave Villwock, in Erick Ellstrom’s U-96 Spirit of Qatar from Seattle blistered the new distance for a Gold Cup required two-lap average of 162.309 mph. Steve David in the Oh Boy! Oberto was next at 158.350.

Surprise of the day was Greg Hopp, who pushed the U-100 Jarvis Restoration (former Miss PICO) to 157.773. The Fred Leland-owned boat hasn’t run that fast since 1999.

Next came J.W. Myers in Bill and Jane Schumacher’s Miss Peters & May at 156.600, J. Michael Kelly in Graham Trucking at 155.782, Jeff Bernard in Formulaboats.com at 155.251, Nate Brown in his Miss Red Dot at 155.235, and rookie Cal Phipps in Dave Bartush’s Miss DYC at 152.001.

Brian Perkins got in with a slow (for him) average of 150.784 in the U-21 Miss Gill Chiropractic. Dr. Ken Muscatel was right behind in his purple Boyland Nissan, in at 150.710. Rounding out the field was Mike Webster in the U-22 Matrix/Jarvis entry at 139.383.

All preliminary heats were four laps, with a five-lap final.

Heat 1-A on Saturday brought out the U-100 Jarvis, Miss DYC, Miss Gill Chiropractic and Boyland Nissan. After a good start, it was Greg Hopp and Cal Phipps dueling through the first lap in fairly windy conditions. Miss Gill lost its engine cowling in the first lap. Ken Muscatel ran last on the outside. Hopp pulled away and lengthened his lead and won by ¼ lap over Phipps. Perkins was third, and Muscatel fourth.

During Heat 1-B, Dave Villwock, on the inside, took the lead after a three-boat cavalry charge down the backstretch. J.W. Myers and J. Michael Kelly were in hot pursuit, but dropped back on the second back-stretch.

Coming into the Roostertail Turn the Peters & May lost its skid fin and shot through Kelly’s wake. When he came out of the spray, Myers was aimed directly at the pits and the crowded docks. With little control, he yanked the speeding hydro to the right and slammed into the breakwall in front of the Roostertail at nearly 100 miles per hour.

Myers’ quick thinking averted disaster, and he came out of it, miraculously, with only a broken foot. The U-37’s left sponson was crushed and the cockpit smashed in. It was later retrieved and determined to be a total loss.

The heat was not re-run, since the leader had completed more than two laps.

The last section of Heat 1 saw Steve David lead a three boat parade, followed by Jeff Bernard in Formulaboats.com and Mike Webster in the Matrix/Jarvis.

In Heat 2-A, Villwock, in lane #4, blew away the competition on lap 1. Jeff Bernard had a terrible start on the inside. Steve David and J. Michael Kelly chased the U-96, but to no avail. Ken Muscatel trailed the distance in lane 5. Villwock won by ¼ lap over the Oberto averaging 152.766 for fastest heat of the day

The U-21 Miss Gill Chiropractic never left her trailer for Heat 2-B. Nate Brown had the inside and held off Greg Hopp for three thrilling laps. Hopp’s Jarvis Restoration would gain on the straighaways, but the Miss Red Dot controlled on the turns. Miss DYC was running third, but had jumped the gun at the start, and eventually dropped out on lap 2. Mike Webster finished a distant third after that.

Racing resumed on Sunday morning with Heat 3-A. Brian Perkins’ U-21 was really hauling in lane #5 but jumped the start by a few feet. He battled Dave Villwock around the sweeping bridge turn, but the U-96 pulled away and was gone. Graham Trucking ran second, Formulaboats was third, and Boyland Nissan fourth. Miss Gill ran fast, but Perkins had to do an extra lap.

In a beautiful three boat run up the backstretch, it was Oberto, Jarvis and Miss Red Dot hull-to-hull in Heat 3-B. Nate Brown had the Red Dot out front, but Steve David took the lead away early. Greg Hopp took over second place on lap 2. Phipps and the Miss DYC passed the Red Dot on lap 3 by pulling to the inside in a great move. Mike Webster again trailed the distance.

Cal Phipps drove a fantastic race in Heat 4-A and led Graham Trucking for two thrilling laps before J. Michael took over. Formulaboats and Jarvis U-100 were running third and fourth, and Nate Brown was fifth in Miss Red Dot. Hopp fell back steadily, and Brown took over fourth place.

In a tremendous run, Jeff Bernard really turned it on, passing Miss DYC and heading out after Kelly. On the last turn Bernard came up even on the inside and dragged his teammate to the finish, missing victory by a half a boat length. The speeds were 142.898 for Kelly and 142.652 for Bernard.

The last preliminary heat brought out Qatar, Oberto, Miss Gill, and Matrix. Ken Muscatel withdrew his Boyland Nissan entry.

The U-22 Matrix threw a prop in front of the grandstands and didn’t start. Villwock took the start and the heat. Steve David trailed, and Brian Perkins trailed him.

The Final Heat was anticlimactic. Villwock chose lane 1 and rocketed away with little effort, winning all five heats and dominating the race. Steve David came home second in Oh Boy! Oberto, followed by Graham Trucking, Jarvis Restoration, Formulaboats, and Miss Red Dot.

And so, the Spirit of Qatar wins the 101st APBA Gold Cup. It was Dave Villwock’s eighth Gold Cup and his 60th career race win, only one behind Chip Hanauer and two behind Bill Muncey. His legend grows as the hydros move west to Tri-Cities and Seattle.

J.W. Myers spent the night in the hospital and returned to the pits in time to watch the finals. His left foot will be operated on in Seattle and he’s expected to make a full recovery. He may even be ready to drive in Doha in November.

[Reprinted from Thunderboat, July 2010]