We're racing through history!
By Fred Farley - Unlimited Hydroplane Historian
GRAHAM TRUCKING won four of the six battles in 2014, but OBERTO/MISS MADISON won the war.
When the roostertails subsided after the last race of the season in Doha, Qatar, OBERTO/MISS MADISON (U-6) with driver Jimmy Shane had 9157 National High Points, compared to 8736 for GRAHAM TRUCKING (U-1) with J. Michael Kelly and 7115 for GRAHAM TRUCKING II (U-7) with Cal Phipps.
Shane and OBERTO scored victories in the APBA Gold Cup at Detroit and the HAPO Columbia Cup at the Tri-Cities, Washington, and were the fastest qualifiers at all six H1 Unlimited events. The community-owned MISS M from southern Indiana, placed second in the Oryx Cup/UIM World Championship at Doha and third in the Albert Lee Cup at Seattle.
As High Point winner, OBERTO/MISS MADISON is entitled to wear the coveted U-1 emblem throughout the 2015 H1 Unlimited tour.
This marks the second year in a row that Jimmy Shane has won the High Point Driver title in the H1 Unlimited Class. He did so in 2013 with Ted Porter’s GRAHAM TRUCKING team.
MISS MADISON, under the sponsorship of Oberto Meat Products, has now won five National High Point titles since 2008 - the first four with driver Steve David who retired at the end of the 2013 season.
In the words of OBERTO Team Manager Charlie Grooms, “The series championship is always the highest priority for our sponsors and our 13,000 owners. It’s always our #1 goal.
Porter’s GRAHAM TRUCKING boats did themselves proud in 2014. The U-1 with Kelly took first-place at Madison, Seattle, San Diego, and Doha, while the U-7 with Phipps finished second at San Diego and third at Madison and Detroit.
Finishing behind the U-6, the U-1, and the U-7 at season’s end was fourth-place TEAM RED DOT/JONES RACING (U-9). Driver Jon Zimmerman scored 5604 National Points with the U-9, placed second at Madison, the Tri-Cities, and Seattle, and finished third at Doha.
Hard luck team of the year had to be Greg O’Farrell’s GO FAST TURN LEFT (U-21) entry. After taking a solid second-place at Detroit as MISS AL DEEBY DODGE with Brian Perkins in the cockpit, the boat crashed at the Tri-Cities as LAKERIDGE PAVING with Jamie Nilsen driving. O’Farrell nevertheless continued on the H1 tour and leased a series of back-up hulls to stand in for the damaged primary hull. The U-21 team finished fifth in the final standings with 4652 National Points.
Other “top-3″ finishers in 2014 included Mike Webster who took third at San Diego with BIG 5 SPORTING GOODS (U-22) and Kip Brown who guided the brand new SPIRIT OF QATAR (U-96) to third-place in its debut race at the Tri-Cities.
In a late-season development, H1 Unlimited Chairman Sam Cole announced his retirement after ten years in the leadership role. Cole was responsible for expanding H1’s international footprint with the addition of the UIM World Championship series in Doha, Qatar.
The H1 Executive Committee appointed Steve David–one of the sport’s winningest drivers and a past-President of the American Power Boat Association–as Interim H1 Chairman.
Indiana Governor’s Cup
In his first race as driver of the hometown favorite, Jimmy Shane won all three of his preliminary heats with OBERTO/MISS MADISON. Shane physically led J. Michael Kelly and GRAHAM TRUCKING by a roostertail length all five laps in the winner-take-all Final Heat.
The OBERTO was called, however, for jumping the starter’s clock by half a boat length and had to run an extra lap to be scored.
The Ohio River was extremely rough that day. Kelly reported the first turn of the 2-mile course as being the roughest that he had ever driven through. “At one point, it knocked the boat out of shape and knocked the wind out of me. I had to get recovered physically as well as getting the boat straightened out.”
Kelly was informed of the infraction on Shane about half-way through the heat but didn’t want to slow down too much, knowing that Jon Zimmerman in the U-9 and Cal Phipps in the U-7 were right behind him.”
APBA Gold Cup
The MISS MADISON team’s victory in the 2014 APBA Gold Cup was a long time in coming. Jimmy Shane and the U-6 crew, headed by crew chief Larry Hanson, gave the City of Madison their first Gold Cup win since Jim McCormick’s storied triumph in 1971.
Leading into the Final Heat, the obvious favorites were Shane in MISS M and J. Michael Kelly in GRAHAM TRUCKING (U-1). Shane had four first-place finishes in the preliminary heats; Kelly had one second-place and three first-places.
Approaching the one-minute pin, Kelly was called for jumping the gun and penalized a lap. According to Shane, “I heard the call at the start but I wanted to make sure it was real, so I didn’t want him to get too far ahead.”
On the third lap of five on the 2.7-mile course, the OBERTO boat began to fall apart. The back end and the propeller started to come loose. But Shane managed to keep ahead of second-place Brian Perkins and MISS AL DEEBY DODGE. “We were probably another lap away from losing the propeller, which would have taken out the entire back end of the boat. But everything held together and we were able to finally deliver the Gold Cup back to Madison.”
HAPO Columbia Cup
Jimmy Shane and OBERTO/MISS MADISON made it two victories in a row on the 2014 H1 Unlimited tour, despite major damage to the boat’s left sponson that looked to be beyond repair.
After being involved in a collision with Dave Villwock and MISS BEACON PLUMBING (U-37) in a preliminary heat, Shane’s pit crew put a temporary fix on a gaping hole in the sponson and finished just in time for the Final Heat.
The repaired boat handled much differently than it had earlier in the weekend, according to Shane. “I was fighting it more than usual but it stayed together and got us to the checkered flag.”
In summary, the Columbia Cup emerged as something of a destruction derby for the H1 fleet. In addition to OBERTO and BEACON PLUMBING, GRAHAM TRUCKING (U-1), OUR GANG RACING (U-17), and LAKERIDGE PAVING (U-21), all suffered significant damage on the Columbia River.
With three down and three races remaining on the 2014 H1 calendar, OBERTO/MISS MADISON had the lead in National High Points with 4769, followed by GRAHAM TRUCKING II (U-7) with 3564, and GRAHAM TRUCKING (U-1) with 3626.
Albert Lee Cup at Seafair
J. Michael Kelly led all five laps of the Final Heat on Lake Washington with GRAHAM TRUCKING (U-1). Kelly finished 1.5 seconds ahead of Jon Zimmerman in TEAM RED DOT and 4.5 seconds ahead of Jimmy Shane in OBERTO/MISS MADISON. Shane’s boat finished despite a broken front wing.
For a few anxious minutes, the official outcome at Seattle was in doubt as word spread of a possible one-minute penalty on Kelly for encroaching on Shane’s lane. This would have cost Kelly the victory on his hometown race course.
After further review, Kelly was ruled to have established a legal overlap at the point of the possible call and the GRAHAM TRUCKING team got to take the first-place trophy home.
When Kelly and Shane met at the awards platform, Shane extended his hand and offered Kelly his congratulations.
San Diego, CA
Bill Muncey Cup at Bayfair
The real winners at San Diego’s Bayfair were the fans, who were treated to plenty of competitive action.
Luck of the draw matched the two High Point teams–OBERTO/MISS MADISON and GRAHAM TRUCKING (U-1) - together in all all three preliminary heats in addition to the Final Heat.
OBERTO finished first, second, and first in the preliminaries; GRAHAM ran second, first, and second. Shane and OBERTO posted the fastest heat of the weekend with a clocking of 152.341 miles per hour in Heat 1-B, compared to 151.316 for Kelly and GRAHAM.
In the Final Heat, OBERTO and GRAHAM exited the first turn together and left the rest of the field far behind. Jimmy Shane physically led J. Michael Kelly all five laps but was penalized a lap for bearing out on the GRAHAM TRUCKING in turn-1 of lap-4.
The penalty dropped Shane to fourth place and made Kelly the Bill Muncey Cup champion. Kelly’s teammate Cal Phipps in GRAHAM TRUCKING II (U-7) advanced to second-place in the corrected order of finish, ahead of third-place Mike Webster in BIG 5 SPORTING GOODS.
Oryx Cup/UIM World Championship
For the sixth time in their history, the Unlimited hydroplanes made the trek half-way around the world to Doha, Qatar, a venue far-removed from their traditional Western Hemisphere setting.
With the High Point Championship on the line, 2100 season points were up for grabs at Doha with Jimmy Shane and OBERTO/MISS MADISON leading J. Michael Kelly and GRAHAM TRUCKING (U-1) by a margin of 832 points.
Kelly ended up with a perfect weekend, winning all five heats entered, en route to his second UIM World Championship. His first was in 2009.
Shane scored a wire-to-wire win in preliminary Heat 4-A to clinch the season championship.
In the Final Heat for the Oryx Cup, OBERTO and GRAHAM TRUCKING battled head-to head.
“I was able to hold him off for about two laps,” said Shane. “Once he got next to me on the inside, the water got so rough I couldn’t hold him off and I just settled back.”
According to Kelly, “There were times when we were only a few feet apart down the straightaway. But that’s boat racing. You can never give the other too much room. That’s how you have to race.”
Even with a second-place finish, Shane had a smile on his face at season’s end.
“Our main goals in coming to Doha was to keep the equipment together and to win the National High Point Championship. If we would have won the World Championship, it would have been icing on the cake. But we are bringing the boat home to Madison in one piece and we have the High Point title.”