We're racing through history!
By Fred Farley - H1 Unlimited Historian
The 2010 H1 Unlimited tour featured a battle royal for National High Point honors that began over the Fourth of July weekend in Madison (Indiana) and concluded with stopovers in Detroit, Tri-Cities (Washington), Seattle, San Diego, and Doha (Qatar).
A total of twelve teams, thirteen hulls, and sixteen drivers saw competitive action during 2010.
When the roostertails subsided after the last race of the season at Doha, OH BOY! OBERTO/MISS MADISON (U-1) from southern Indiana had first-place in National High Points for the third year in a row. This entitled the OBERTO team to carry the coveted U-1 designation once again in 2011.
The community-owned craft and driver Steve David had 9444 accumulated points, compared to 9053 for the Ellstrom family's SPIRIT OF QATAR (U-96) and driver Dave Villwock. David took first-place at Madison, the Tri-Cities, and Seattle, while Villwock claimed victory at Detroit, San Diego, and Doha.
Ted Porter's two primary boats, the GRAHAM TRUCKING (U-7) with J. Michael Kelly and the FORMULABOATS.COM (U-5) with Jeff Bernard, placed third and fourth in National Points with 8207 and 5574 points respectively. And rounding out the top-five was GO FAST, TURN LEFT (U-21) and Brian Perkins with 4894 points.
The most frightening mishap of 2010 occurred at the APBA Gold Cup in Detroit where MISS PETERS & MAY (U-37) lost a skid fin and crashed into a sea wall. The boat was completely destroyed and driver J.W. Myers suffered a fractured left foot.. Owners Billy and Jane Schumacher leased a back-up hull from Fred Leland and put relief driver Jon Zimmerman in the boat while Myers convalesced.
Madison, IN - Lucas Oil Indiana Governor's Cup
The kick-off race for the 2010 H1 Unlimited tour featured the 60th annual running of the Indiana Governor's Cup on the Ohio River at Madison, Indiana. The community-owned OH BOY! OBERTO/MISS MADISON took the top honor.
This was the hometown favorite's first local victory since 2001 and the third since 1971. The MISS MADISON is the oldest continuously active Unlimited team, having competed every year for 50 years since 1961.
OBERTO driver Steve David pulled away to a commanding lead on lap-two of the winner-take-all Final Heat in 2010 and went on to average 139.485 miles per hour for the 12.5-mile distance, compared to 135.963 for second-place J. Michael Kelly in GRAHAM TRUCKING and 135.580 for third-place J.W. Myers in MISS PETERS & MAY.
Detroit, MI - Jarvis Restoration APBA Gold Cup
The 101st running of the APBA Gold Cup saw Dave Villwock score his eighth victory in that famous series on the Detroit River. This tied him with the late Bill Muncey. Only the retired Chip Hanauer, with eleven, has more.
Steve David stayed ahead in National High Points and placed second in the Gold Cup for the fifth time since 2004.
David and OH BOY! OBERTO crossed the starting line first in the Final Heat in lane-two. Villwock and SPIRIT OF QATAR, occupying lane-one, exited the first turn first and led all the way. QATAR and second-place OBERTO quickly left the rest of the field far behind. Villwock led David by a full roostertail length after lap-one and by three roostertails after five laps.
J.W. Myers, who had been injured the day before during preliminary Heat 1-B with MISS PETERS & MAY, was back in the pit area and witnessed the Final Heat as a spectator.
Tri-Cities, WA - Lamb-Weston Columbia Cup
The third stop on the 2010 Unlimited tour emerged as a repeat triumph for the OH BOY! OBERTO/MISS MADISON team and driver Steve David. They captured their third straight Tri-Cities Columbia Cup at Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington, on the Columbia River.
The OBERTO maintained its lead in National Points with three down and three events remaining on the 2010 H1 calendar.
Dave Villwock and SPIRIT OF QATAR appeared to have the Tri-Cities race won but were called for a driving infraction in the final turn of the Final Heat and had to run a penalty lap. This dropped them from first to fifth-place in the corrected order of finish.
OH BOY! OBERTO finished well ahead of second-place J. Michael Kelly and GRAHAM TRUCKING in the Columbia Cup Final Heat.
Twelve Unlimited teams attended the 45th annual Tri-Cities race. These included a third entry from the Ted Porter organization, the recently re-activated FORMULABOATS.COM II (U-57). This particular boat had last raced in 2008 as a back-up hull. Taking the wheel of the U-57 at the Tri-Cities in 2010 was veteran Mark Evans in his first Unlimited appearance since 2003.
Seattle, WA - Albert Lee Cup at Seafair
Steve David and OH BOY! OBERTO made it three wins in four races on the 2010 Unlimited tour with a victory in the 50th annual Seattle Seafair Regatta. David and OBERTO had triumphed in the 2007 Seattle race as well.
From the standpoint of pure boat racing, the 2010 Albert Lee Cup Final Heat was arguably the most competitive heat of the year.
J. Michael Kelly and GRAHAM TRUCKING jumped the gun. OBERTO and SPIRIT OF QATAR with Dave Villwock ran together down the first backstretch. Villwock ran within David's roostertail length the entire five laps. The outcome was in doubt right down to the last two seconds of the race with OBERTO taking it at 143.288 miles per hour to QATAR's 142.714.
It doesn't get much closer.
San Diego, CA - Air Guard Championship presented by Degree Men
Major league boat racing made a welcome return to southern California in 2010 after a one-year hiatus. Thanks to a couple of new sponsors--the Air National Guard and Degree Men--and the efforts of H1 Chairman Sam Cole, the Unlimited hydroplanes made their 43rd competitive appearance since 1964 on San Diego's Mission Bay.
This time, it was Dave Villwock's turn to garner the glory.
Villwock's SPIRIT OF QATAR qualified faster than Steve David's OH BOY! OBERTO, 162.604 miles per hour to 161.696, and thus secured a better lane choice in heat confrontations between the two powerhouses.
SPIRIT OF QATAR led out of the first turn in the Final Heat and throughout. OH BOY! OBERTO stayed within SPIRIT OF QATAR's roostertail length for two and a half laps before QATAR pulled away from OBERTO on lap-four. The rest of the field trailed far behind the two front-runners. Villwock averaged 153.551 for the 12.5 miles, compared to David's 150.491.
In winning the 2010 Air Guard Championship, Villwock's victory total in the Unlimited Class increased to 61 since 1992. This put Dave in a tie with Chip Hanauer and one short of the all-time record of 62 wins, set by Bill Muncey, which had been on the books since 1981.
With the North American phase of the 2010 H1 Unlimited tour now concluded, three teams were "in the hunt" for the Season High Point Championship, which would be decided across the Atlantic Ocean in Doha, Qatar. These were OH BOY! OBERTO with 7639 points, SPIRIT OF QATAR with 7453, and GRAHAM TRUCKING with 6347.
In an additional nod to history, three boats owned by Ted Porter finished the Final Heat at San Diego in 2010--the U-7 driven by J. Michael Kelly, the U-5 driven by Jeff Bernard, and the U-57 driven by Mark Evans. No other Unlimited owner has EVER had three boats that started and finished a Final Heat together.
Doha, Qatar - Oryx Cup/UIM World Championship
For only the second time in their history, the Unlimited hydroplanes plied their spectacular trade in a location far-removed from their traditional Western Hemisphere setting with a race on the Arabian Gulf in Doha, Qatar.
Driver Dave Villwock and SPIRIT OF QATAR came from behind to win the second annual Oryx Cup/UIM World Championship and--in so doing--tied legendary driver Bill Muncey's all-time career victory total of 62 wins.
Villwock faced an uphill struggle in Doha when a spinout in the weekend's first heat cost him a chance at the 2010 National High Point Championship, which went instead to Steve David and the OH BOY! OBERTO team for the third year in a row.
The SPIRIT OF QATAR crew had to replace the Lycoming turbine engine, a gear box, the rear wings, and supports that were damaged in the incident.
David likewise had a difficult weekend when, after winning three preliminary heats, he suffered a steering problem in the finale and had to slow down and settle for third overall in order to maintain control of the boat.
Villwock started the Final Heat with an outside lane position. It took all of Dave's driving skills to chase down defending Oryx Cup champion J. Michael Kelly and GRAHAM TRUCKING. Villwock caught up with Kelly on lap-three and was never headed from then on.
"I want to congratulate Dave Villwock on reaching such a milestone," said H1 Unlimited Chairman Sam Cole. "It's a fitting tribute to Bill Muncey that Dave should win a UIM Championship outside of the United States.
"I want to thank His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and the Qatar Marine Sports Federation for being such gracious hosts," Cole continued. "We love racing in Doha and we look forward to returning next year."