2005 Regates de Valleyfield (67th)
Jean Theoret And The Unlimiteds Offer A Great Show In Valleyfield
by Denis Bourbonnals [Translated from French Into English by Marc Perrier]
A page of history has been written at the 67th Regates de Valleyfield, and the thousands spectators present around the St. Francois Bay will long remember the great show provided by the world's biggest class of hydroplane racing, the Unlimiteds. Headed by local racing hero Jean Theoret, the boats amazed the crowd with their visit to Valleyfield and this should be a love affair between hydro fans and the Unlimiteds for the years to come. It wasn't the first time for the "big" hydros in Quebec as in 1993. Les Regates de Chambly, organized an exhibition with Ken Muscatel's (then) Miss D.O.C. and Fred Leland's American Dream driven by Mark Evans. Even with the tight racecourse for these monsters, the four drivers have showed that there could be a future for this class in the Canadian hydro capital. The sound of the turbines that are pushing the 30-foot hulls at speeds of 200 mph on the 2 mile and 2½ mile race courses around the U.S. surprised the crowd. You could hear the 'OOOOHHHSSS and AAAHHHSS' when the boats left the giant roostertails behind them in the east turn of the bay. Spectators could not believe how stable the boats were and the good water conditions helped a bit. The G-forces should have been very high on these two small turns.
Jean Theoret made a great comeback in front of his loyal fans after a three-year absence. Theoret said it was one of his best weekends in his 20 years of racing in Valleyfield. People were crazy and were standing up and waving arms every time Theoret went on the course piloting the LLumar Window Film. The first Canadian since Bob Hayward to be the official driver of an unlimited team, the Maple Grove, Quebec resident showed his talent one more time. Every time he went on the liquid oval, he was faster and faster. He knows the course better than every other driver there. Jean ran laps at an average of 113 mph on the 1-mile course and did some laps of 126 mph on the 1½ mile course. Speeds of 160 mph. were reached on the straight-aways. Second fastest was Mike Weber in U-5 Formula Powerboats followed by Ken Muscatel in Superior Racing and Greg Hopp in Fred Leland's U-100. Theoret's performance had U-8 LLumar owner Bill Wurster saying that his newly named driver was nothing less than the best driver in the world which, of course, pleased the crowds who were listening closely.
The first unlimited visit was a success and the return for next year looks good. Plans are already on the table for a 1¼ mile course [!] for 2006. ABRA's representative Ken Muscatel confirmed that he'd personally like the Unlimiteds to come back next year. "We came here to try new things this year. We have seen what is possible or not and we have to find a new point system that could attract all the other teams to show up next summer." ABRA's leaders will look at the possibility to have duels or make starts on both sides at the same time. Muscatel has also said they should try a new 1¼ mile (test) mile course in Seattle in August as a preview of a return to Valleyfield next year. He added, "In NASCAR, the racecourses are different and the teams have to adjust to it. In our case, we'll have to set our boats with different gearbox ratios and modify the boats' set ups to better go around the tight turns." Valleyfield organizers, Michel Poirier, Didier Seguin, and Ron O'Neill see a future in their crystal ball for the Unlimiteds in Valleyfield and race fans are already dreaming about next year's race.