2015 Season in Review

Driver Jimmy Shane and the community-owned Oberto/Miss Madison team would not be denied in 2015.

When the roostertails subsided after the last race of the season on San Diego’s Mission Bay, Oberto/Miss Madison (U-1) had 6560 National High Points, compared to 5463 for Graham Trucking (U-5) with J. Michael Kelly, 4735 for Dalton Industries (U-27) with Cal Phipps, and 4703 for Les Schwab/Team Red Dot (U-9) with Scott Liddycoat.

Shane and Oberto scored victories in the APBA Gold Cup at the Tri-Cities, Washington, the UAW/GM Spirit of Detroit Hydrofest at Detroit, and the Bayfair Bill Muncey Cup at San Diego.

As High Point winner, Oberto/Miss Madison is again entitled to wear the coveted U-1 emblem throughout the 2016 H1 Unlimited tour.

This marks the third year in a row that Jimmy Shane has won the High Point Driver title in the H1 Unlimited Class. He did so in 2013 with Ted Porter’s Graham Trucking team.

Miss Madison, under the sponsorship of Oberto Meat Products, has now won six National High Point titles since 2008–the first four with driver Steve David who retired at the end of the 2013 season.

The Oberto corporation had previously announced that 2015 would be their final season as an Unlimited hydroplane sponsor. Thanks to Shane and the Miss Madison crew, they went out a winner.

Ted Porter’s Graham Trucking (U-5) with Kelly made the Oberto team work for it in 2015 and was always in the hunt. The U-5 took first-place in the Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seattle, was second at the Tri-Cities and Detroit, and fourth at San Diego.

The first-year Dalton Industries team of Milt and Charley Wiggins made a strong debut on the H1 Unlimited circuit with a third-place in National Points. Pilot Phipps guided the U-27 into the “top-3” at both the Tri-Cities and San Diego.

Driver Scott Liddycoat, in his first full season of Unlimited competition after several years on the sidelines, did himself proud in 2015. He finished fourth in National Points and grabbed third-place at Seattle and second at San Diego with the Team Red Dot entry of Mike and Lori Jones.

Other “top-3” finishers in 2015 included Jean Theoret who took second at Seattle with Ellstrom E-Lam Plus (U-96) and Brian Perkins who placed third at Detroit with Al Deeby Dodge (U-21).

The sport welcomed back after a long absence the team of Ed Cooper, Jr., from Evansville, Indiana. The Allison-powered Cooper craft–the only piston boat in the fleet–competed at the Tri-Cities as Miss Ace Hardware (U-3). This was the craft’s first appearance at a National High Points Unlimited event in five years. Later in the season, racing as Miss Homestreet Bank, the Jimmy King-chauffeured U-3 qualified third fastest at San Diego with a clocking of 157.800 on the 2.5-mile course. This was within 2 miles per hour of the fastest qualifier, Oberto Beef Jerky/Miss Madison, which did 159.503.

Hard luck boat of the year had to be the Bucket List (U-18) of owner/driver Kelly Stocklin. Mechanical gremlins had plagued the team all year. Then, at San Diego, Stocklin flipped the boat after hitting a parallel wave. The hull sustained major damage and Kelly suffered some fractured back bones. Thankfully, Stocklin is expected to recover completely.

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July 3-5
Madison, IN
Madison Regatta

The traditional season-opener at Madison, Indiana, for the Indiana Governor’s Cup had to be downgraded to non-High Point status in 2015. This was on account of flood conditions and a lot of debris in the Ohio River. Five boats entertained the fans in a series of five 3-lap exhibition heats. J. Michael Kelly ended up with the first-place trophy in Graham Trucking (U-5), followed by Jimmy Shane in Oberto and Jesse Robertson in Graham Trucking II (U-7).

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July 24-26
Tri-Cities, WA
APBA Gold Cup

(1) U-1 Oberto/Miss Madison, Jimmy Shane
(2) U-5 Graham Trucking, J. Michael Kelly
(3) U-27 Dalton Industries, Cal Phipps

Jimmy Shane and the Oberto/Miss Madison successfully defended their title in the Gold Cup at Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington, on July 26, 2015.

Shane battled side-by-side with J. Michael Kelly in Graham Trucking in the winner-take-all Final Heat. Kelly averaged 145.088 miles per hour for the five-lap moment of truth, compared to 145.756 for Shane.

As the boats worked into position before the start, the Ellstrom E-Lam Plus with Jean Theoret was observed cutting through the infield and into the DMZ. This resulted in a disqualification from Chief Referee Brian Hajny. Ironically, Ellstrom driver Theoret made a perfect on-the-nose start and pulled to a commanding physical lead before the end of lap-one.

This marked the third APBA Gold Cup triumph for the Miss Madison team in its history. The first was in 1971 with the late Jim McCormick as driver.

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July 31-Aug 2
Seattle, WA
Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seafair

(1) U-5 Graham Trucking, J. Michael Kelly
(2) U-96 Ellstrom E-Lam Plus, Jean Theoret
(3) U-9 Team Red Dot, Scott Liddycoat

The Final Heat at Seattle was a real donnybrook. Graham Trucking led out of the first turn with Oberto/Miss Madison in close pursuit. Oberto stayed within Graham’s roostertail length all five laps. Oberto and Graham bumped at the exit of the first turn on lap-4. In the run to the finish line of lap-5, Jimmy Shane moved a boat length ahead of J. Michael Kelly and physically led Kelly over the line.

Oberto/Miss Madison was determined to have encroached on the Graham Trucking in lap-4 and received a 1-minute penalty. This officially dropped Oberto from first to sixth position in the corrected order of finish.

This marked the third straight Seafair victory for the Ted Porter team, the second with Kelly in the cockpit. Jimmy Shane was the winning Graham Trucking driver in 2013.

With a nod to history, the 2015 Seattle race is the first where 12 qualifiers finished and scored points in all of their heats without a single “Did Not Finish”, “Did Not Start” or “Disqualification.”

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Aug 22-23
Detroit, MI
Spirit of Detroit Hydrofest

(1) U-1 Oberto/Miss Madison, Jimmy Shane
(2) U-5 Graham Trucking, J. Michael Kelly
(3) U-21 Al Deeby Dodge, Brian Perkins

The 2015 Detroit race almost didn’t happen, due to financial difficulties. But in the space of 67 days, promoter Mark Weber and a dedicated crew of volunteers made it happen, under the sponsorship of the UAW and General Motors.

The fans were treated to one great duel after another on the always-challenging Detroit River. Preliminary Heat 2-A witnessed a battle royal between Jean Theoret in Ellstrom E-Lam Plus and J. Michael Kelly in Graham Trucking. With Theoret in the lead, the Ellstrom craft encountered a roller in the Belle Isle Bridge turn, caught a gust of wind, and blew over, landing upright but facing backward. Theoret was unhurt and damage to the hull was minor, although the stabilizer wing was damaged and the skid fin was lost. (It was later recovered by divers.)

The finale at Detroit was arguably the most competitive heat of the entire H-1 Unlimited season. Despite extremely rough water and gusting winds, Jimmy Shane and J. Michael Kelly battled each other from start to finish. Shane reeled off laps of 147, 147, 146, 146, and 150 for an average of 147.795; Kelly did 143, 149, 146, 147, and 147 for an average of 146.992. Graham Trucking pulled even with Oberto on the backstretch of lap-4, but Oberto managed to pull away and claim the victory.

* * *

Sept 18-20
San Diego, CA
Bill Muncey Cup at Bayfair

(1) U-1 Oberto Beef Jerky/Miss Madison, Jimmy Shane
(2) U-9 Team Red Dot, Scott Liddycoat
(3) U-27 Dalton Industries, Cal Phipps

With three down and one National High Points race remaining on the H1 calendar, Shane and the Oberto crew led Kelly and Graham Trucking by 626 points–4860 to 4234. Cal Phipps and Dalton Industries were next highest at 3611.

Oberto qualified fastest and finished first in all four heats. Preliminary Heat 2-B proved to be the championship-deciding heat in which Shane clinched yet another national title for sponsor Art Oberto.

Graham Trucking (U-5) had the misfortune of being damaged before it even arrived in San Diego. During the drive from Indiana to California, the truck with the boat was parked at a truck stop. Another 18-wheeler sideswiped the U-5 as it was tilted on the trailer. A new set of uprights was destroyed and there was a hole at the end of the right-rear shoe. The crew spent Wednesday of race week repairing the rear of the boat, and it was ready for the Friday testing session on Mission Bay. Graham Trucking still had plenty of speed, as evidenced by a 151.184 mile an hour clocking in preliminary Heat 1-B.

With the National Championship already in hand, there was no stopping Jimmy Shane in the Final Heat. He and Oberto powered out of the first turn in first-place and pulled to a commanding lead on lap-2. Oberto averaged 146.448 for the 12.5 miles, followed by Liddycoat and Team Red Dot at 144.475, Phipps and Dalton Industries at 142.568, and Kelly and Graham Trucking at 141.706.

In Shane’s words, “I can’t say enough for the City of Madison and my sponsor Oberto. We have a great package with all of our Oberto crew members and Larry Hanson is one of the best crew chiefs around.”

November 30th, 2015

[H1 Unlimited]