2009 Lamb-Weston Columbia Cup

Steve David and Oberto: Repeat Columbia Cup Champs

by Fred Farley, ABRA Unlimited Historian

The third stop on the 2009 ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane Series tour emerged as a repeat triumph for the Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison team and driver Steve David. On July 26, they captured their second straight Tri-Cities Lamb Weston Columbia Cup at Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington, on the Columbia River.

The community-owned U-1 from southern Indiana won all four of its heat races and moved past Dave Villwock and Miss E-Lam Plus (U-16) to take over the lead in National High Points with three down and three events remaining on the 2009 ABRA calendar. Earlier in the season, Oh Boy! Oberto had placed third in the Indiana Governor’s Cup at Madison and second in the APBA Gold Cup at Detroit.

Oh Boy! Oberto finished two roostertail lengths ahead of second-place Jeff Bernard and Formulaboats.com (U-5) in the Columbia Cup Final Heat.

Eleven Unlimited teams attended the 44th annual Tri-Cities race. These were augmented by Erick Ellstrom’s Boeing (U-787), a testbed for biofuels, which made an exhibition run with Chip Hanauer in the cockpit and posted a lap of 150.235 miles per hour on the 2.5-mile course.

A trio of Vintage Unlimiteds also set up shop in the Columbia Park pit area. These were the restored 1962 Miss Bardahl, the restored 1975 Oh Boy! Oberto (former Savair’s Mist), and the replica 1955 Miss Thriftway.

The Vintage boats entertained several times over the course of the weekend. Each posted lap speeds in the 90 mile an hour range.

Miss E-Lam Plus, the winner at both Madison and Detroit, qualified fastest for the Columbia Cup at a speed of 163.223. Oh Boy! Oberto was next at 161.957.

Then came Graham Trucking (U-7) with J. Michael Kelly at 158.083, West Pasco Family Dental (U-17) with Nate Brown at 157.667, Formulaboats.com with Bernard at 156.950, Jerry’s Tavern (U-100) with Greg Hopp at 155.402, Grandview On The Lake (U-3) with Jimmy King at 154.921, Hoss Mortgage Investors (U-37) with J.W. Myers at 154.469, Albert Lee (U-48) with Brian Perkins at 144.624, Mister Home Loan (U-25) with Dr. Ken Muscatel at 142.947, and Matrix System Automotive Finishes (U-22) with Mike Webster at 140.466.

U-17 team leader Nate Brown re-qualified as an Unlimited driver and drove in Heat 1-B of the Columbia Cup on Saturday, July 25, before turning the wheel over to his nephew Kip Brown, the regular U-17 driver, for the Sunday heats.

Jean Theoret, who had been seriously injured in an accident with the U-37 at Madison, Indiana, returned to the U-37 cockpit at the Tri-Cities for a test run. Theoret recorded a lap of 153.442 and was greeted with enthusiastic applause when he returned to the dock. Jean decided, however, that he wasn’t physically ready yet to return to competition and relinquished the U-37 wheel to relief driver J.W. Myers.

Victory in the Unlimited Light Racing Series event went to Kayleigh Perkins, the 21-year-old driving sensation, at the wheel of Joe Frauenheim’s Foster Care/Vitamin Water (UL-72). This marked the fourth victory in as many races on the 2009 ULRS tour for the UL-72 team.

Ms. Perkins averaged 108.072 in the UL Final Heat at the Tri-Cities, ahead of second-place Greg Hopp and Graham Trucking/Happy Go Lucky (UL-1), which did 105.282. Ryan Mallow checked in third at 104.900 with Interstate Batteries (UL-19).

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

Dash-For-Cash Heat

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

Four boats participated in the traditional Dash-For-Cash exhibition heat on Friday afternoon.

A ragged start with U-1 first across on the outside. U-1 led out of the first turn. U-5 and U-7 caught up with U-1 at the end of the first back-stretch. U-7 led at the end of lap-one. U-1 regained the lead on the back-stretch of lap-two. U-1 would gain the advantage in the turns. U-5 and U-7 would move close to the front-running U-1 on the straightaways.

U-1 led at the end of laps two and three. It was a virtual photo finish for second and third-place between U-7 and U-5 with U-7 taking it. U-48 trailed slightly.

Heat 1-A

(1) U-1; (2) U-5; (3) U-100; (4) U-48; (5) U-22; (6) U-16.

U-16 moved from lane-one to lane-three in the upper turn before the start and encroached on the U-1 and the U-5. U-16 was thus penalized a lap. U -1 drifted out briefly and slightly before the start. U-1 was thus penalized 150 points but retained its finish position.

A ragged start with U-5 first across. U-1 6 physically “led” out of the first turn and throughout. U-1 stayed within U-16’s roostertail for one and a quarter laps. U-16 pulled away on the second backstretch. U-5 ran a steady “third.” U-100, U-48, and U-22 trailed.

Heat 1-B

(1) U-7; (2) U-3; (3) U-17; (4) U-37; (DNS) U-25.

U-25 stopped during the 5-minute period. A ragged start with U-37 first across. U-7 led out of the first turn and throughout. U-7, U-17, and U-3 were one and a half roostertails apart after lap-one. U-7 pulled away on the second backstretch. U-17 and U-3 ran head-to-head all three laps. It was a drag race to the finish line with U-3 taking second-place by a boat length. U-37 trailed.

Heat 2-A

(1) U-1; (2) U-17; (3) U-25; (4) U-100; (5) U-48; (DNF) U-7.

A blanket start with U-17 first across. U-17 led out of the first turn followed closely by U-1. U-17 led a fast-closing U-1 at the end of lap-one.

U-1 took the lead on the second backstretch. U-17 was running within U-1’s roostertail length when third-place U-7 blew over at the start of lap-three and landed upside-down. The heat was declared a contest after two completed laps. U-7 driver J. Michael Kelly was uninjured and removed himself from the boat in less than 30 seconds.

Heat 2-B

(1) U-37; (2) U-5; (3) U-22; (DSQ) U-16; (Wd) U-3.

The physical “winner” of Heat 2-B - the U-16 - was disqualified for a fuel flow violation and received no points. All other boats moved up a position.

A blanket start with U-37 first across. U-16 “led” out of the first turn and throughout. U-5 stayed within U-16’s roostertail length until the second backstretch when U-16 pulled away. U-37 challenged U-5 for two laps and reeled it in in the final turn. U-37 beat U-5 by a full roostertail length at the finish line. U-22 trailed and U-3 withdrew.

Heat 3-A

(1) U-1; (2) U-16; (3) U-5; (4) U-17; (Wd) U-7; (Wd) U-25.

The most competitive heat of the weekend! A blanket start with U-1 and U-16 side-by-side. U-1 had lane-one and U-16 had lane-four. U-1 exited the first turn in first-place and stayed there. U-16 charged after U-1 from start to finish. U-1 went on to win by half a roostertail length. U-5 ran a steady third and U-17 trailed. U-7 and U-25 withdrew.

Heat 3-B

(1) U-37; (2) U-48; (3) U-22; (DNF) U-100.

A blanket start with U-37 first across on the inside. U-37 pulled away on the first backstretch. U-48 and U-22 see-sawed for second and third with U-48 taking it by half a roostertail length. U-100 conked out on the first backstretch.

After three sets of preliminary heats, Oh Boy! Oberto (U-1) had 1050 points for three first-place finishes. Hoss Mortgage Investors (U-37) had 969 for two firsts and a fourth. Formulaboats (U-5) had 825 for two seconds and a third. West Pasco Family Dental (U-17) had 694 for a second, a third, and a fourth. Albert Lee (U-48) had 596 for a second, a fourth, and a fifth. Matrix System Automotive Finishes ((U-22) had 577 for two thirds and a fifth. These were admitted to the front line in the winner-take-all Final Heat.

Final Heat

(1) U-1; (2) U-5; (3) U-37; (4) U-16; (5) U-17; (6) U-48; (7) U-22.

The lane choices for the Final Heat, from inside out, were U-1, U-37, U-5, U-17, U-48, U-22, and U-16 in that order.

A blanket start with five of the seven starters closely bunched. U-1, U-37, and U-5 exited the first turn together. U-1 led at the end of lap-one with U-5 and U-37 both within U-1’s roostertail length.

U-1’s lead varied from one to two roostertails for laps two through five. U-5 and U-37 ran head-to-head all five laps with U-5 taking it for second-place. U-1 averaged 145.431 for the 12.5-mile distance, compared to 142.946 for U-5 and 142.570 for U-37.

U-16 started seventh and worked up to fourth but was nowhere near the top three boats.

U-17, U-48, and U-22 trailed in that order. U-22 missed the exit buoy of the upper turn on lap-one and ran a penalty lap.

This marked the fourth race win for the current Oh Boy! Oberto hull, built in 2007, which won at Seattle and San Diego during its debut season and at the Tri-Cities in 2008.

Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison driver David increased his victory total in the Unlimited Class to nine at the 2009 Columbia Cup. Among active drivers, only Dave Villwock has more.

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

With the 2009 victory, Oh Boy! Oberto had a mid-season total of 4640 National Points, compared to 4041 for Miss E-Lam Plus and 3743 for Formulaboats.com.

[Reprinted from Thunderboat, October 2009]