2005 Chevrolet Cup

Theoret Scores First At Seattle

By Fred Farley - ABRA Unlimited Historian

The fifth stop on the 2005 ABRA Unlimited hydroplane series tour was historic on several counts. The five races were won by five different drivers and four different teams. Winner number five was Jean Theoret, who piloted owner Bill Wurster's LLumar Window Film (U-8) to victory in the Chevrolet Cup on August 7 at Seattle, Washington.

Theoret, a rookie in Unlimited hydroplanes (but a veteran in the Grand Prix Class), became the first Canadian driver to win an Unlimited race since Bob Hayward captured the Harmsworth Trophy at Picton, Ontario, with Miss Supertest III in 1961.

And not since 1966 has a rookie driver claimed the top prize at Seattle when Jim Ranger won the Seafair Trophy on Lake Washington with My Gypsy.

Theoret and the bright-yellow U-8 dominated the Final Heat action of the 2005 Chevrolet Cup by outrunning Dave Villwock and Miss E-Lam Plus (U-16), 137.448 miles per hour to 133.955. Steve David took third with Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison (U-6) at 128.043.

Then came Mike Weber in Formulaboats.com (U-5), rookie Jeff Bernard in Miss Lakeridge Paving (U-99), and Ken Muscatel in KISW Miss Rock (U-25), with Jimmy King failing to finish in Toyota of Kirkland (U-3).

Eleven Unlimiteds, the largest gathering of the season, set up shop in the Stan Sayres Pit Area. Owner Fred Leland brought three hulls to the race, although none of these (the U-100, the U-99, and the U-60) had seen previous action in 2005.

Villwock and the U-16 took top honors during qualifying on the 2-mile Ted Jones Race Course with a speed of 157.184. King and the U-3 were next at 146.908, followed by Theoret and U-8 at 145.864, Muscatel and U-25 at 144.659, David and U-6 at 142.625, Terry Troxell and Sportboatnorthwest.com (U-13) at 140.723, J. Michael Kelly and Graham Trucking (U-2) at 138.023, Mike Weber and Formulaboats.com (U-5) at 136.219, and Bernard and U-99 at 130.000. Greg Hopp with Miss Beacon Plumbing (U-100) and Steve Hook with Miss Thriftway (U-60) were admitted to the field on the basis of a Chairman's Option.

On a human interest level, U-99 pilot Jeff Bernard in the stepson of U-13 driver Terry Troxell and the nephew of U-5 pilot Mike Weber.

Greg Hopp experienced mechanical difficulties with the U-100 in the Chevrolet Cup but won all of the marbles in the Unlimited Light race for the Graham Trucking Cup at Seafair with Mike's Hard Lemonade (UL-1). Hopp held off a dynamic challenge from second-place Kevin Aylesworth and Venture Bank (UL-5) in the Final Heat.

The lead was never more than a roostertail length. But Greg's superior acceleration off the corners made the difference.

Heat 1-A

(1) U-16; (2) U-3; (3) U-6; (4) U-2; (5) U-13; (DNS) U-60.

It was a ragged start in Heat 1-A with U-6 first over the starting line. U-3 led out of the first turn in lane-one, followed by U-6 in lane-two and U-16 in lane-three. U-16 passed U-3 and took over the lead at the end of lap-one. U-3 took the lead back from U-16 on the backstretch of lap-two only to have U-16 take it back at the end of lap-two. U-16 went on to win by a roostertail length. U-6 ran a steady third, seven seconds behind the leaders, while U-2 and U-13 trailed. U-60 failed to start.

Heat 1-B

(1) U-8; (2) U-25; (3) U-5; (4) U-99; (DNS) U-100.

U-8 crossed the starting line first in Heat 1-B with U-25 on his hip. U-5 and U-99 started together a quarter of a lap behind. U-8 led out of the first turn and pulled away from U-25. U-5 and U-99 see-sawed for third-place all three laps with U-5 taking it by two boat lengths. U-100 failed to start.

Heat 2-A

(1) U-2; (2) U-6; (3) U-3; (4) U-25; (5) U-99; (6) U-100.

U-2 led throughout Heat 2-A. U-6, U-3, and U-25 all ran within a roostertail length of U-2, all three laps. Those four boats—U-2, U-6, U-3, and U-25 in that order—all finished within 3.2 seconds of each other, while U-99 trailed. U-100 had starting and stopping problems but managed a distant sixth-place. U-100 lost its points, however, on account of a fuel flow violation.

Heat 2-B

(1) U-13; (2) U-5; (3) U-16; (4) U-8; (DNS) U-60.

Heat 2-B was something less than an artistic success. U-16 and U-60 missed the score-up buoy on the backstretch before the start and were penalized a lap. (They were off-plane for more than three seconds.) U-60 then went dead in the water. U-8 physically led all three laps by a wide margin but dislodged the exit buoy on the second turn of lap-one and was penalized a lap. U-8 was assessed an additional penalty lap for "incorrect direction of travel when cutting the course" prior to the start. The boats spread out on lap-two. The physical order of finish at the end of lap-three was U-8, U-13, U-5, and U-16.

Heat 3-A

(1) U-6; (2) U-25; (3) U-16; (4) U-13; (DNS) U-2; (DNS) U-99.

Another fiasco was witnessed in Heat 3-A. U-13, the physical leader by a wide margin, incurred two one-lap penalties: the first for jumping the gun and the second for cutting off the U-16 in the first turn, which caused U-16 to briefly go dead in the water. The blast of roostertail from the U-13 also ripped off the U-16's forward canard. U-6 was physically second all the way, behind the penalized U-13. U-25 stayed within U-6's roostertail for one lap before U-6 pulled away. U-2 and U-99 failed to start.

Heat 3-B

(1) U-8; (2) U-3) (3) U-5; (4) U-100; (DNS) U-60.

U-3 led across the starting line in Heat 3-B but U-8 led out of the first turn. U-8 led U-3 by two roostertail lengths after lap-one and went on to win by almost eight seconds. U-5 trailed in third. U-100, limping in fourth, was flagged after two laps and given fourth-place points. U-60 ran a couple of laps but received a DNS for not having started before the leader had completed lap-one.

After three sets of preliminary heats, LLumar Window Film (U-8) had 969 accumulated points, followed by Oh Boy! Oberto (U-6) with 925, Miss E-Lam Plus (U-16) with 850, Toyota of Kirkland (U-3) with 825, KISW Miss Rock (U-25) with 769, and Formulaboats.com (U-5) with 750. These were admitted to the five-lap winner-take-all Final Heat.

[NOTE: In-race commentary had Thriftway placing 4th, Beacon 5th in Heat 3B]

Provisional Heat

(1) U-99; (2) U-13; (3) U-2; (DNS) U-100; (DNS) U-60.

The Provisional Heat—to determine the trailer boat for the Final Heat—was a wild affair indeed. U-99 was penalized a lap for cutting through the infield and U-13 was penalized a lap for jumping the gun (again!). U-2, U-99, and U-13 ran two seconds apart during lap-one. U-2 conked out after one and three quarter laps but restarted to take a distant third. U-99 and U-13 ran head-to-head during their fourth (penalty) lap. As the boats approached the finish line, the crowd was on its feet. The rookie, Jeff Bernard, outran his stepfather, Terry Troxell, by barely a boat length. It doesn't get much closer! This advanced U-99 to the Final Heat.

Final Heat

(1) U-8; (2) U-16; (3) U-6; (4) U-5; (5) U-99; (6) U-25; (DNF) U-3.

The seven finalists were on the course and running at the one-minute gun, including the U-16, which carried a replacement (but reportedly ill-fitting) canard. U-8 grabbed the inside lane; U-16 took lane-two. U-8 and U-16 crossed the starting line together. U-8 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-16 stayed within U-8's roostertail down the first backstretch.

U-8 led U-16 by a full roostertail length at the end of lap-one and by two roostertails after lap-two. The margin of victory was 6.8 seconds after five laps. U-6 made a slightly belated start but worked up to within two roostertails of the leaders after lap-one and ran a steady third the rest of the way. U-5, U-99, and U-25 trailed. U-3, running at slow speed, pulled off the course after one lap, while running in last-place.

LLumar Window Film driver Theoret now joins Steve David, J.W. Myers, Terry Troxell, and Dave Villwock, all of whom have won a race in 2005.

LLumar owner Bill Wurster now has seven victories in the Unlimited Class. His most recent win in Seattle had occurred in 1992 with The Tide and driver George Woods.

With five down and two races remaining on the Unlimited schedule, Miss E-Lam Plus led Oh Boy! Oberto in National High Points, 7369 to 5810. But because E-Lam had two drivers (Myers and Villwock) during the season, David led in Driver Points over second-place Theoret, 5810 to 5215.

(Thunderboat, October, 2005)