2008 Lamb-Weston Columbia Cup

Oh Boy! Oberto Wins 2008 Columbia Cup

By Fred Farley - ABRA Unlimited Historian

The fourth stop on the 2008 ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane Series tour emerged as a triumph for the Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison team and driver Steve David. On July 27, they captured the Tri-Cities Columbia Cup at Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington, on the Columbia River.

The community-owned U-6 from southern Indiana increased its lead in National High Points with four down and two events remaining on the 2008 ABRA calendar. Earlier in the season, David and Oh Boy! Oberto had placed second in the races at Evansville, Indiana, and Madison, Indiana.

The Lamb-Weston-sponsored Columbia Cup marked the eighth straight contest (during 2007 and 2008) that the Oberto team has finished either first or second in the final standings.

Oh Boy! Oberto finished far ahead of second-place Brian Perkins and Albert Lee/Spirit Of The Navy (U-50) in the Columbia Cup Final Heat, after early-leader Jean Theoret and Miss Beacon Plumbing (U-37) went dead in the water on the fourth of five laps around the 2.5-mile course.

Thirteen Unlimiteds attended the 43rd annual Tri-Cities race. These included a back-up hull that stood in for the Detroit-damaged Formulaboats.com II (U-7). Back-up driver Jimmy Shane handled the substitute U-7 at the Tri-Cities as a replacement for the injured Mike Allen.

Defending Columbia Cup champions Miss E-Lam Plus (U-1) and Dave Villwock, in their first appearance of 2008, qualified fastest with a lap speed of 162.722 miles per hour. Hoss Mortgage Investors Too (U-3) with Jimmy King and Oh Boy! Oberto with David were next fastest at 162.074 and 161.492 respectively.

Then came Hoss Mortgage Investors (U-10) with David Bryant at 160.054, Theoret and Miss Beacon Plumbing at 159.145, J. Michael Kelly in Graham Trucking (U-13) at 158.699, Jeff Bernard in Formulaboats.com (U-5) at 157.172, rookie Kip Brown and Our Gang Racing (U-17) at 151.604, Perkins in Albert Lee/Spirit Of The Navy at 147.545, David Williams in Miss Lakeridge Paving (U-48) at 143.586, and Greg Hopp in Mirageboats.com (U-100) at 139.853.

Procraft Windows (U-25) with Ken Muscatel and the late-arriving Formulaboats.com II (U-7) did not complete any official qualifying laps and were waived into the race. Shane and the U-7 did post a test lap on Sunday morning, July 27, at 139.768.

Victory in the Unlimited Light Racing Series went to the father-and-son team of Jerry and Greg Hopp. They traded off behind the wheel of Happy Go Lucky (UL-15) to win the Graham Trucking Thunder Cup at the Tri-Cities. With Greg driving in the Final Heat, the UL-15 averaged 107.779 to outrun second-place Paul Becker and Miss Critical Logic (UL-14), which did 104.726.

Terry Troxell in Numerica Credit Union (UL-8) finished third, followed by Michael Flaherty in Power Punch (UL-11), Mike Sadlon in No Excuses Racing (UL-89), and J. Craig Fletcher in Celtic Racing (UL-13).

All preliminary heats for the Unlimiteds consisted of three laps; the Final Heat comprised five laps.

Dash-For-Cash Heat

(1) U-6; (2) U-13; (3) U-50; (4) U-17.

Four boats participated in the traditional Dash-For-Cash exhibition heat on Friday afternoon. U-17 pilot Kip Brown was required to start in the outside lane on account of his rookie status.

A flag start with U-6, U-50, U-13, and U-17 in lanes one, two, three, and four respectively. U-6 led out of the first turn. U-50 passed U-6 on the first backstretch. U-6 reclaimed the lead in the second turn of lap-one and was never headed. U-50 maintained second-place for two laps until passed by U-13 at the start of lap-three. U-6 went on to win by a roostertail length over U-13. U-17 trailed all the way in fourth.

Heat 1-A

(1) U-1; (2) U-5; (3) U-50; (4) U-48; (DNS) U-7.

A ragged start with U-5 first across in lane-one. U-1, in lane-two, caught up with U-5 in the first turn and led out of it. U-1 led U-5 by a roostertail length after lap-one and pulled away on lap-two. U-50 and U-48 ran close together until fourth-place U-48 struck the exit buoy in the first turn of lap-two.

Heat 1-B

(1) U-3; (2) U-37; (3) U-100; (DNS) U-13.

A ragged start with U-3 (inside) and U-37 (outside) starting together. U-3 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-37 stayed within U-3’s roostertail for two laps. U-3 went on to win by two roostertails. U-100 trailed way back. U-13 stopped during the 5-minute period and didn’t make a start.

Heat 1-C

(1) U-6; (2) U-10; (3) U-17; (DNF) U-25.

A blanket start with U-6 and U-10 starting together in lanes one and two respectively. U-6 led down the first backstretch with U-10 in close pursuit. U-10 stayed within U-6’s roostertail for two laps. U-6 went on to win by two roostertails. U-25, running a distant third, hooked after two laps and stopped in the infield. U-17 trailed.

Heat 2-A

(1) U-1; (2) U-3; (3) U-5; (4) U-50.

A ragged start with U-5 first across in lane-one. U-1 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-1, U-5, and U-3 were two roostertails apart after lap-one. U-3 passed U-5 on lap-two. U-1 led by one and a half roostertails after lap-two. U-3 began to make up ground on U-1 on lap-three. U-1 won by less than half a roostertail over U-3. U-50 trailed.

Heat 2-B

(1) U-6; (2) U-37; (3) U-13; (DNS) U-7.

A blanket start with U-13 first across in lane-three. U-6, in lane-one, led out of the first turn and throughout. U-6, U-13, and U-37 were one and a half roostertails apart after lap-one. U-6 pulled to a comfortable lead on lap-two. U-37 and U-13 seesawed for second and third. U-6 won by two roostertails. U-37 beat U-13 by one roostertail.

Heat 2-C

(1) U-10; (2) U-100; (DNF) U-48; (DNS) U-17.

A blanket start with U-10 first across. U-10 pulled to a decisive lead exiting the first turn. U-48 and U-100 dueled for one and a half laps for second and third. U-48 pulled away from U-100 on lap-two. U-48 spun out and stopped at the entrance to the final turn. U-17 stopped on course during the one-minute period and did not re-start.

Heat 3-A

(1) U-37; (2) U-1; (3) U-13; (4) U-50; (5) U-100; (6) U-7.

A blanket start with U-13 first across on the outside. U-37 and U-1 exited the first turn together and see-sawed for the lead for two and three-quarter laps. U-37 led by barely a boat length at the end of laps one and two and by a roostertail length after lap-three. U-13 ran a steady third. U-50, U-100, and U-7 trailed.

Heat 3-B

(1) U-10; (2) U-3; (3) U-6; (4) U-17; (5) U-5.

A blanket start with U-5 and U-10 crossing together with U-6 between them, slightly behind. U-6 caught a roostertail in the first turn and went dead in the water. U-5 and U-10 ran head-to-head for one lap. U-10 pulled away on lap-two. U-6 restarted and eventually caught up with and passed U-17 on lap-three. The physical order of finish after three laps was U-10, U-5, U-3, U-6, and U-17. U-5 was penalized a lap for bearing out on U-6 and was officially fifth in the corrected order of finish. U-10 finished 21 seconds ahead of second-place U-3.

After three sets of preliminary heats, Miss E-Lam Plus (U-1) and Hoss Mortgage Investors (U-10) both had 1100 points for two firsts and a second. Oh Boy! Oberto (U-6) had 1025 points for two firsts and a third. Miss Beacon Plumbing (U-37) and Hoss Mortgage Investors Too (U-3) both had 1000 points for one first and two seconds. Formulaboats.com (U-5) had 652 points for a second, a third, and a fifth. These were admitted to the winner-take-all Final Heat

Provisional Heat

(1) U-50; (2) U-7; (DNS) U-13.

U-13 stopped on course during the 5-minute period and did not re-start. U-7 slowed in the upper turn prior to the start. U-50 made a solitary start and ran three laps unopposed. U-7 regained power and ran a distant second. U-7 trailed U-50 by a third of a lap.

On the strength of its Provisional Heat win, Albert Lee/Spirit Of The Navy (U-50) was admitted to the Final Heat. Formulaboats.com II (U-7) was also admitted (as the trailer boat) after Hoss Mortgage Investors Too (U-3) withdrew from the finale with an engine problem.

Final Heat

(1) U-6; (2) U-50; (3) U-5; (4) U-7; (5) U-1; (6) U-10; (DNF) U-37.

U-1 was penalized a lap for an encroachment on the U-5 in the upper turn prior to the start; U-10 was likewise penalized for jumping the gun.

U-37 battled U-6 and U-10 throughout lap-one. U-37 pulled away on lap-two but conked out after three and three-quarter laps. U-6 held off a challenging U-10, which was physically second. U-6 led U-10 by a roostertail length at the checkered flag. The physical order after five laps was U-6, U-10, U-1, U-50, U-5, and U-7. U-1 passed U-10 on the penalty lap for an official fifth-place finish behind U-6, U-50, U-5, and U-7.

U-6 averaged 142.362 for the 12.5-mile Final Heat distance, compared to 128.928 for second-place U-50 and 126.653 for third-place U-5.

This marked the third race win for the current U-6 hull, built in 2007, which won at Seattle and San Diego during its debut season.

Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison driver David increased his victory total in the Unlimited Class to eight at the 2008 Columbia Cup. Among active drivers. He is second only to Dave Villwock (who has 55) in race wins.

Steve pointed out, “I’ve raced on this course for 19 years and this is my first win. This year is the Oberto company’s 90th anniversary, so this is a nice present.”

The Oberto family’s initial sponsorship of an Unlimited hydroplane occurred at the 1975 Tri-Cities race. Since the retirement of Anheuser-Busch/Budweiser after 2004, Oberto is the oldest active sponsor in Unlimited racing.

Miss Madison, Inc., which represents the City of Madison, now has two Tri-Cities triumphs. The team won in 1971 with the late Jim McCormick as driver.

With the 2008 victory, Oh Boy! Oberto increased its lead in National High Points to 618 points over Formulaboats.com (U-5) and 830 points over Miss Beacon Plumbing (U-37).

[Reprinted from Thunderboat, October 2008]