2007 San Diego Thunderboat Regatta

Oberto Wins Bill Muncey Cup

By Fred Farley - ABRA Unlimited Historian; photos by Robert F. Peters

The sixth and final stop on the 2007 ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane Series tour marked the second straight triumph of the current campaign for the community-owned Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison and driver Steve David. On September 16, they captured the Bill Muncey Cup on San Diego’s Mission Bay.

The Oberto team had previously won the Chevrolet Cup in Seattle, Washington, on August 5.

Oh Boy! Oberto (U-6) and Formulaboats.com (U-5), piloted by Jeff Bernard, staged a sensational side-by-side battle in the Final Heat at San Diego. U-6 won by less than a roostertail length.

Earlier in the day, Dave Villwock and Miss E-Lam Plus (U-16) had clinched the 2007 National High Point Championship. Villwock and E-Lam won the first four of the six ABRA races in 2007 but failed to finish the Final Heat at San Diego.

Ten Unlimiteds attended the 41st annual San Diego race. These included the repaired Formulaboats.com II (U-1), which suffered extensive damage when it flipped at Detroit and had to be replaced by a back-up hull at the Tri-Cities and Seattle races.

Miss E-Lam Plus qualified fastest on the 2.5-mile course with a speed of 165.386 miles per hour. Bill Muncey Cup defending champions Miss Beacon Plumbing (U-37) and Jean Theoret were next fastest at 163.371.

Then came Oh Boy! Oberto at 159.798, Ahern Rentals (U-10) with David Bryant at 158.951, Formulaboats.com (U-5) at 158.867, All Access Rentals (U-21) with Brian Perkins at 152.191, Spirit of Detroit (U-13) with J. Michael Kelly at 151.757, Formulaboats.com II (U-1) with Mike Allen at 149.957, Superior Racing (U-25) with Ken Muscatel at 148.079, and Miss Lakeridge Paving (U-48) with David Williams at 147.183.

The U-21 entry suffered a broken gearbox during testing at San Diego and had to withdraw from the race.

Former Unlimited pilot Jerry Hopp scored a sensational win in the Unlimited Light Class race on Mission Bay, driving Graham Trucking GT/Happy Go Lucky (UL-1). Hopp trailed the front-running team of Miss Boat Electric (UL-72) and Patrick Haworth for most of the Final Heat but finally overtook Haworth in the last quarter of a lap to claim the victory, 112.301 miles per hour to 110.879.

For a week and a half prior to the race, the Bill Muncey Cup was in doubt due to financial difficulties of the sponsoring organization. To help alleviate this problem, a new company was formed. The group, headed by U-25 owner/driver Ken Muscatel, issued the following mission statement:

“A group of private investors has formed a new company and entered into a strategic alliance with San Diego’s Thunderboat Unlimited Club, Inc.

“Under the new arrangement, the company will provide marketing and sponsorship development for the annual hydroplane races held on Mission Bay.

“The company will be managed by Ken Muscatel and Barbara Carper, CPA.”

Heats 1-A and 1-B were run on Saturday, September 15; the remaining Heats were run on Sunday, September 16.

Heat 1-A

(1) U-37; (2) U-13; (3) U-25; (4) U-5; (DNF) U-16.

A blanket start with U-37 first across in lane-two. U-37 led out of the first turn, followed closely on the outside by U-16. U-37 and U-16 ran side-by-side into the second turn. U-16 led by a boat length at the start of lap one. U-16 went dead in the water with a blown engine after one and a quarter laps. U-37 went on to win unopposed. U-13, U-25, and U-5 trailed way back at the finish.

This was the first time that U-16 had failed to finish a Heat in 2007. The Miss E-Lam Plus crew elected not to use their back-up Lycoming engine on Sunday. Instead, they airlifted overnight from Washington state the engine out of Nate Brown’s Miss Red Dot (U-17), which did not attend the San Diego race.

Heat 1-B

(1) U-1; (2) U-6; (3) U-10; (DNF) U-48; (Withdrawn) U-21.

A ragged start with U-1 first across in lane-two. U-1 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-1 led U-6 by one and a half roostertails after lap-one and by three roostertails at the finish. U-10 moved to within a roostertail of U-6 at the beginning of lap-three. U-6 went on to defeat U-10 by a single boat length at the finish line. U-48 started belatedly and stopped after two laps.

Heat 2-A

(1) U-16; (2) U-37; (3) U-10; (4) U-13; (DNS) U-25.

A blanket start with U-16 first across in lane-two. U-16 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-16 led U-37 by a roostertail at the end of lap-one. U-16 pulled away from U-37 on the second backstretch. U-10 stayed within U-37’s roostertail for two and a half laps. U-13 trailed in a distant fourth-place. U-25 did not start.

U-16’s first-lap speed of 159.883 was the fastest of the race.

Heat 2-B

(1) U-5; (2) U-6; (3) U-1; (4) U-48. A blanket start with U-6 first across in lane-two. U-5, in lane-one, led out of the first turn and throughout. U-5 led U-6 by one roostertail after laps one and two and by two roostertails at the finish. U-5, U-6, and U-1 finished four roostertails apart. U-48 trailed by half a lap.

Heat 3-A

(1) U-5; (2) U-10; (3) U-13; (DSQ) U-1; (DNS) U-48.

U-10 and U-5 battled down the first backstretch, followed closely by U-1. U-10, in lane-two, led by less than a roostertail after lap-one, flanked by U-5 (lane-one) and U-1 (lane-three). U-5 had the lead at the end of lap-two and went on to win by less than a roostertail over U-10. U-1 was physically third but was disqualified for a fuel violation. This elevated the distant-running U-13 from fourth to an official third-place finish.

The U-5’s three-lap average of 152.151 was the fastest of the race.

Heat 3-B

(1) U-16; (2) U-6; (3) U-25; (DNF) U-37.

A blanket start with U-37 first across in lane-one. U-37 led out of the first turn. U-37, U-16, and U-6 ran two roostertails apart down the first backstretch. U-37 led U-16 by less than a roostertail at the end of lap-one. U-16 passed U-37 at the end of lap two. U-37 slid into U-16’s roostertail and went dead in the water after two and a quarter laps. U-6 then “inherited” second-place, while U-25 trailed in third.

After three sets of preliminary Heats, Formulaboats.com (U-5) had 969 points for one fourth and two first-place finishes. Oh Boy! Oberto (U-6) had 900 points for three second-place finishes. Miss E-Lam Plus (U-16) had 800, Ahern Rentals (U-10) had 750, Miss Beacon Plumbing (U-37) had 700, and Spirit of Detroit (U-13) had 694. These six were admitted to the front line of the five-lap winner-take-all Final Heat.

Provisional Heat (1) U-1; (2) U-25.

A blanket start with U-25 first across on the outside. U-1 led out of the first turn and down the first backstretch. U-25 briefly took the lead in the second turn of lap-one. U-1 led U-25 by less than a roostertail at the end of lap-one and pulled away to a substantial lead on lap-two. U-1 went on to win by three roostertails.

On the strength of its Provisional Heat win, Formulaboats.com II (U-1) was admitted to the Final Heat as the trailer boat. Superior Racing (U-25) was designated as the alternate for the Final Heat in the event that someone should fail to start.

Final Heat

(1) U-6; (2) U-5; (3) U-37; (4) U-1; (5) U-13; (DNF) U-16; (DNF) U10.

All seven boats were on the course and running at the one-minute gun.

U-6 grabbed the inside lane away from U-5 on the backstretch prior to the start by establishing a legal overlap and forcing U-5 into lane-two.

A blanket start with U-5 and U-6 exiting the first turn together. U-5 and U-6 see-sawed for the lead for three and a quarter laps and, at one point, actually bumped into each other. In the first turn of lap-four, U-5 hit a roller and “hopped”, while U-6 moved to a half-roostertail length lead. And that’s how they finished.

U-6 led at the end of laps two, four, and five; U-5 led at the end of laps one and three. U-6 posted lap speeds of 152, 149, 150, 152, and 152 for an average of 151.445; U-5 did laps of 153, 148, 151, 151, and 145 for an average of 149.724.

U-37 and U-16 battled side-by-side for two laps for third and fourth-place until U-16 pulled off the course on lap-three and returned to the pits. U-37 led U-16 by less than a roostertail at the end of laps one and two. U-1 and U-13 trailed in fourth and fifth respectively. U-10 conked out after three-quarters of a lap.

Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison driver Steve David increased his victory total in the Unlimited Class to seven at the 2007 Bill Muncey Cup—his fourth with the Oberto team. This is the first time that a U-6 pilot has scored back-to-back race victories since Jim McCormick in 1971.

For the City of Madison, Indiana, which owns the U-6, this was their second San Diego victory. They won in 1993 with Mike Hanson as driver. (Hanson currently serves as crew chief and codesigner for the Oberto team.)

[Reprinted from Thunderboat, November 2007]