2006 Chevrolet Cup
No Freakin' Miss Beacon Plumbing Wins at Seattle
by Bill Osborne
Jean Theoret saved the best for last, scorching the field with a perfect start to easily capture the 2006 Chevrolet Cup at Seafair. "I knew Villwock was inside of me, so I needed a great start to win. I wasn't about to be late. He's really fast, so I hit the line at full speed and hoped for the best." Dave Villwock made a nice move to take lane 1, but for some reason Ellstrom did not respond when it counted. Theoret's virtually ended the race when he entered the south turn with an established overlap on Villwock. Again, according to Theoret, "When I hit the first turn, I knew we had it. The way our boat was handling, no one was going to get around us." Miss Beacon Plumbing showed off its superior handling, running away from the field to win the Seattle race for a second straight year. Theoret won the final at an average speed of 141.880 followed by Steve David in Oh Boy! Oberto at 134.320 and Villwock's Ellstrom at 131.068.
Testing And Qualifying
Villwock surprised no one by posting the fastest qualification time at 157.480. Afterwards, Erick Ellstrom smiled as he spoke of his team's performance. "The part that we bought to repair the boat after Valleyfield did not fit, so we have been fighting that, but our crew has done a great job setting up the boat. It handles much better than it did, but we are far from perfect."
Mike Allen continued to impress as he checked in at 153.201, followed by J.W. Myers, Jean Theoret, Jimmy King, and Steve David, all over the 150 mark, prompting radio announcer Brad Luce to comment, "What a group that is! Six boats in over 150 mph. You had better not be late to the start on Sunday afternoon or you will have no chance of winning." Little did anyone know how prophetic those words would be?
Greg Hopp in Todd Hoss American Dream took lane 1 during the score-up for 1A, and led Acura of Seattle and Formula II to the north turn very early. A check of a GPS would have indicated speeds in the high 30's to low 40's.
Anyone remember the old rule about remaining on a plane? Chris Bertram in Car Pros Kia and Kevin Aylesworth in The Plumbing Joint were early too but wide, leaving lanes 4 and 5 open. Where was Jean Theoret? As the group entered the north turn, Theoret brought Miss Beacon Plumbing out of the south turn. Was his watch broken or was the Gold Cup champion up to something? Theoret entered the turn at 140+. "I didn't want to do one of those crawling starts, so I came up there with some speed. Fortunately, lane 4 was open, so I grabbed it and took off."
By the time Beacon Plumbing reached the south turn, the race was over. Theoret moved into lane 1 and walked away from the field. Formula II ran second followed by Jimmy King, Greg Hopp, and J. Michael Kelly's Acura of Bellevue. Aylesworth held off a charging Chris Bertram to take 6th place.
Things got a bit messy at the start of the 1B when Villwock was taken out before racing really started. "I was in lane 1 and next thing I knew there was nothing but water in front of me." Ellstrom came to a halt in the north turn, leaving J.W. Myers and Steve David to fight it out for the heat win. And fight it out they did, providing fans the best racing of the weekend. Myers drove Fairweather Masonry right on the buoy line while David kept him pinned in tight. Oberto, running in lane 2 passed Myers at the apex, only to lose the advantage in the straight-aways. Both drivers did a great job with no game playing of any sort. In the end, Myers' s inside position paid off and Fairweather Masonry took the win, followed by Oberto, Formula, Lakeridge Paving, and Graham Trucking fifth. Villwock restarted his damaged boat to pick up sixth-place points.
In 2A Sunday, Hopp in American Dream and Allen in Formula II entered the north turn early to secure lanes 1 and 2. Fairweather Masonry, Acura of Seattle, Car Pros Kia, and Acura of Bellevue joined the others to make a good start After sliding though a wake at the end of lap 1, Acura of Bellevue got wet and came to a halt. Kelly restarted and finished sixth.
Somewhere in the three-boat battle for the lead, Myers took a dousing from Allen. Formula II was given a one-lap penalty for chopping Myers, dropping Allen to fourth place. Hopp finished fifth after being penalized for missing a buoy. Despite running with a broken canard, Myers worked his way back to take third place.
Prior to the start of 2B, there was some confusion regarding the trailer boat. If there is a tie on points between two boats for the trailer position in a final heat, the boat with the faster time will take the front row position and the slower qualifier will take the trailer position. But, how is the trailer boat selected for any other heats? Is the final-heat rule used, or is it based on heat speed as it was several years ago? After consulting for a time, ABRA officials applied the final heat rule to heat 2B, thus placing Ellstrom on the front row, relegating The Plumbing Joint to the back of the pack. Hoping to avoid a repeat of the mess that knocked him out of 1B, Villwock came up early, but chose lane 3 instead of taking lane 1. "We started in outsides lanes in Evansville and Madison, and it worked well there, so we decided to do it again here."
Oberto settled into lane 2 with Muscatel in 4, flanked by Formula, and Lakeridge Paving. Theoret repeated his heat 1 ploy,remaining well back as the fleet approached the north turn. He entered the turn faster than the rest of the group, only to find lane 1 unoccupied. "I was surprised to find the lane open, but I took it and made a pretty good start. Then all I had to do was hold off the rest of the field for the heat." As it was in heat 1, the race was over quickly. Theoret established a lead early lead and extended it to almost two roostertails over Ellstrom by the end of the first lap. Villwock was followed by Oberto, Lakeridge, and Graham Trucking.
Exiting the last corner, Aylesworth's boat was suddenly engulfed in flames. Afterwards, team co-owner Jeffrey Johnson explained, "The fire started when oil vapors from a line entered the engine." The engine literally exploded and sent fire fore and aft. Aylesworth extricated himself as quickly as possible, but not in time to save his burning boat. The Plumbing Joint burned for almost fifteen minutes, doing significant structural damage to the hull. At the heat generated inside, honeycomb tends to delaminate, so it is highly likely that the black and gold race boat is finished for the season. Only a post-race analysis will confirm or deny these suspicions. As for Aylesworth, he escaped with only minor injuries, but it could have been much worse.
Hopp placed American Dream into lane 1 with Fairweather Masonry in 2 and Beacon Plumbing in 3. Muscatel took lane 4 with Oberto in 5 and Acura of Bellevue in 6. Kelly jumped the gun, so he was in trouble. Things got worse when Acura of Bellevue went through Muscatel's wake and damaged his canard. Kelly limped in dead last.
Confusion reigned when it was announced that Myers had been penalized for a lane change, handing the win to Oberto. Hopp finished second, followed by Beacon Plumbing, Graham Trucking, and Acura of Bellevue. ABRA officials met and determined that Myers should not have been penalized, so he was awarded first place and everyone else was moved back in position.
So, what happened to Miss Beacon Plumbing? According to Scott Raney, "We had some damaged on the left side, so with 880 points in hand, it made no sense to wreck the boat. Theoret did a good job of staying out of trouble and bringing the boat back in one piece. We will complete the repairs and our boat will be 100 percent for the final."
Starting out for 3B, Mike Allen crawled up to the north end early to secure lane 1 alongside Villwock, Formula in 3, then Lakeridge Paving, Acura of Seattle, and Car Pros Kia in lane 4 through 6. Villwock smoked everyone at the start and was never seriously challenged, although Allen's time was good, he couldn't really challenge the defending national champion. King finished third, followed by Jeff Bernard in Formula and Chris Bertram in Car Pros Kia.
The seven-boat field was reduced to three when Acura of Bellevue, The Plumbing Joint, and Lakeridge Paving all withdrew before the heat started. Hopp's American Dream failed to start, so now the heat was a three boat show. Graham Trucking left the pits with only one upright, the wing and other one were missing, then just before the start, it wobbled and collapsed. Despite the damage, Muscatel put his boat in lane 1 and made a good start and had a spirited duel with Car Pros Kia until he hit the exit buoy in lap 2. After that Muscatel returned to the pits, conceding second place to Bertram. Bernard started from lane 3 and drove Formula to an easy heat win, placing him in the final as the trailer boat.
Beacon Plumbing and Fairweather Masonry led the field up the backstretch and appeared to have lanes 1 and 2 established until Villwock cut the course and moved in front of Theoret, moving Beacon Plumbing and Myers to lanes 2 and 3. Formula II, Acura of Seattle, and Oberto rounded out the front line. From the starting line, it appeared that Oberto, Acura of Seattle, and Fairweather were leading, but from the air, Beacon Plumbing had the advantage. Theoret established overlap at the exit of the south turn and the rest was history.
Although Myers appeared to be running in second place, he was actually back because of a one-lap penalty due to an illegal lane change. Oh Boy! Oberto inherited second place followed by Ellstrom, Formula II, Formula, and Fairweather Masonry. King's Acura of Seattle failed to finish.
The win was particularly sweet for Bill Cahill, the owner of Beacon Plumbing. "As a kid growing up in Seattle, I dreamed of winning this race. Taking the Gold Cup was great, but this is the one I wanted. For me, it's the fulfillment of a childhood dream. Tonight,we will celebrate." And celebrate they did. Mr. Cahill took the entire team to the Space Needle for a fabulous dinner party and no freakin' for the 2006 Chevrolet Cup champions.
(Unlimited NewsJournal, September 2006)