2009 Madison Regatta

Madison ‘09

by George Schulz

On a not-so-sunny Fourth of July weekend in beautiful Madison, Indiana, eleven Unlimited hydroplanes sat ready to open the 2009 season.

In the drizzle on Saturday, Dave Villwock pushed the U-16 Ellstrom E-Lam Plus to a 156.296 mile per hour lap over the 2½ mile Bill Cantrell Memorial race course laid out on the Ohio River with the Kentucky shoreline on the backstretch. National champion and hometown boat Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison, steered by driving champ Steve David, was next fastest at 154.790. J. Michael Kelly, new pilot of Ted Porter’s U-7 Graham Trucking did 152.219, and defending Indiana Governor’s Cup champ Jeff Bernard followed in Porter’s Formulaboats.com at 151.755.

Then came Jean Theoret in Billy and Jane Schumacher’s Miss Bello’s Pizza (151.042), Jimmy King in Ed Cooper’s Miss Chrysler-Jeep (144.557), Brian Perkins in Miss Albert Lee (138.625), and Kip Brown in Miss actiVwater (137.901).

Three boats: Fred Leland’s U-100, driven by Greg Hopp, Ken Muscatel’s Superior Racing, and rookie Mike Webster’s U -22 ServPro all got in on the Commissioner’s Option. Due to the tightness of the course, only four boats were allowed to run abreast here.

The first set of heats was run on Saturday. Out they came for Heat 1-A. Jeff Bernard took the start right on the nose, with Jimmy King second. Greg Hopp was back aways in third and Ken Muscatel did not start. King, on the outside, moved to the buoyline on lap two, but the Formulaboats had a good 2½-3 roostertail lead and couldn’t be caught.

Heat 1-B brought out Graham Trucking, Albert Lee, Bello’s Pizza, and ServPro In a scattered start, Theoret took the lead over Kelly, Perkins and Webster. After a lap Kelly’s red boat had caught up and was challenging the yellow boat of Theoret. As instructed, Mike Webster trailed in his first Unlimited heat.

On the first turn of lap #3 the Bello’s Pizza hooked and flipped over in a vicious spin. The race was stopped and rescue operations began. Theoret was pulled out through the U-37’s escape hatch and rushed to shore. He wasn’t breathing, but medics revived him in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. He was then airlifted to Louisville where he was described in fair condition, but improving. By the end of the day, Jean was sitting up and talking, but his lungs had been filled with Ohio River water. He was held overnight for observation.

Back at the race course, Heat 1-C was run. Out came Oberto, E-Lam and U-17. The start was absolutely beautiful with all three boats hitting the line together. Steve David came out of the turn first, but Villwock pulled even and the race was on! On the last turn of lap #1, David kept his lane as Villwock pulled ahead on the outside. Then it was announced that Oberto had hit a buoy somewhere in the first lap, so David was now a lap behind. He backed out of it from there. Kip Brown inherited second place as David completed his penalty lap.

The Fifth of July Sunday looked a lot nicer weatherwise.

Heat 2-A was a tremendous race! Jimmy King had lane #1 but Jeff Bernard took over on the backstretch. Graham Trucking was right in there, too. Perkins trailed in the Albert Lee. On lap 2, King’s piston boat did an impossible 162.869 mph? lap, but followed it with a 131 third lap to Bernard’s 144 and settled for second. Kelly in the U-7 was third and Perkins fourth.

All three boats came out for Heat 2-B. In a good start, Greg Hopp and Ken Muscatel battled into the turn with Webster in his ServPro behind. Hopp and the U-100 led Muscatel in the U-25 by a full turn after one lap. Several hundred yards behind him was Mike Webster, but his boat gave up in the #3-4 corner of lap 2.

Oberto took lane #2 for Heat 2-C, E-Lam was in lane 3 and Kip Brown’s U-17 was outside. Steve David took the start and led Villwock by a full roostertail going down the back chute. On lap 2, the E-Lam did 149.186. Oberto did 148.644 but still led. The partisan crowd was loving it! On lap #3, Villwock turned up the wick, doing 152.529 to David’s 145.586 and winning by half of a roostertail.

The final round of preliminary heats began with Heat 3-A Greg Hopp led the start, but Miss Chrysler-Jeep took over, with Kip Brown and Greg Hopp chasing. King led by a full roostertail over Hopp’s U-100, and Brown’s U-17 actiVwater trailed.

3-B had the two Porter boats, U-5 and U-7, up against Brian Perkins’ Albert Lee boat. Bernard and Kelly battled for 2½ laps, running side-by-side until U-5 lost power on turn 3 of lap 3 and Kelly went on to win alone. Perkins came around to take second. Bernard restarted and finished 3rd.

Out they came for the last prelim. Dave Villwock, on the inside, took the lead and pulled away from Oberto and Superior Racing with a 150.085 mph first lap. That’s how they finished.

OK. Here we go for the Final. Out came E-Lam, Graham Trucking, Miss Chrysler-Jeep, Formulaboats, and the two trailers, U-100 and Oh Boy! Oberto. Villwock took off with the lead, followed by Graham Trucking, Chrysler-Jeep, Formulaboats, Oberto, and the U-100.

The boats seemed to settle in to their respective positions on lap #3. Jeff Bernard’s boat wasn’t running up to par and dropped back steadily. As E-Lam took the checkered flag, with Graham Trucking following, the piston U-3 suddenly went dead in the water 100 yards from the finish. Steve David came by for third place, all the way from his trailer position. Formulaboats was fourth and Greg Hopp brought up the rear in the U-100.

Now, it’s on to the Chrysler-Jeep APBA Gold Cup race (part II) on the Detroit River to see if Steve David can catch the elusive Dave Villwock and the even more elusive Gold Cup.

2009 Madison Regatta, July 4-5, 2009, Madison, Indiana
Indiana Governor’s Cup Race
2½ mile oval on the Ohio River
Pos. No. Boat, Driver Total Pts.
1. U-16 Ellstrom E-Lam Plus, Dave Villwock 1700
2. U-7 Graham Trucking, J. Michael Kelly 1395
3. U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David 1130
4. U-5 Formulaboats.com, Jeff Bernard 1254
5. U-100 Leland Unlimited, Greg Hopp 1052
6. U-3 Miss Chrysler-Jeep, Jimmy King 1040
7. U-48 Miss Albert Lee, Brian Perkins 799
8. U-17 Miss ActiVwater, Kip Brown 780
9. U-25 Superior Racing, Ken Muscatel 375
10. U-22 ServPro, Mike Webster 225
11. U-37 Miss Bello’s Pizza, Jean Theoret 50


[Reprinted from Thunderboat, September 2009]