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Keeping Pace

Tue., July 28, 2009, 12:30 a.m.

Unlimited Hydroplane Shops Buzzing

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

What the North Carolina area is to stock cars the greater Seattle region is for Unlimited Hydroplane racing-home to the majority of races teams and a stop on the seasonal schedule. After a swing to the Midwest that wrapped up last weekend in the Tri-Cities many teams are busy preparing for the 'home' race this weekend-Seafair.

Courtesy: ABRA Media Relations

Unlimited hydroplane shops in the Pacific Northwest are abuzz with activity this week, as the fleet repairs everything from bumps and bruises to major structural damage following the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup in the Tri-Cities this past weekend.


Most seriously damaged was the U-7 Graham Trucking, which took J Michael Kelly for a high, wild ride on the Columbia River during a Saturday prelim.  Early Monday morning, the crew took the boat to the former Budweiser Racing facility in Tukwila, South of Seattle.  Portions of the deck will have to be removed before damage can be completely assessed, but the team hopes to have repairs made in time for qualification runs on the Ted Jones racecourse on Lake Washington Friday.


U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, which carried Steve David to a Columbia Cup victory, is in the same shop for repairs that are not expected to be extensive.


Mitch Evans’ shop in Chelan, Washington is the temporary home of Ed Cooper’s piston powered U-3, based in Evansville, Indiana, which had to be withdrawn during Sunday racing, when it was discovered that there was delamination occurring in a critical area around the skid fin.


Erick Ellstrom’s U-16 Miss Elam Plus needs some TLC after a tough weekend in the Tri-Cities.  A series of penalties left driver Dave Villwock in the trailer boat position for the final heat. The rough water behind the field took a toll on the hull, which also needs a little work.  Repairs will be made at the team’s home shop at Ellstrom Manufacturing in the Ballard area of Northwest Seattle.


Finishing touches are being made on two boats expected to make their 2009 debuts at the Chevrolet Cup at Seafair.  In Ron Jones, Jr’s Pacific, Washington shop, Dr. Ken Muscatel’s completely refurbished U-25 is nearing completion.  The Superior Racing team almost had the boat ready in time for the Tri-Cities, but decided to run Muscatel’s rented Leland hull one more time while the new purple paint dried and plumbing was completed.


And in Mike Jones shop in Enumclaw, Washington,  Jones Racing’s U-9 is being prepared for an appearance at Seafair, where it will be driven by David Williams.  The boat has not been in the water since last year’s Seattle race, where it’s weekend ended with a blow over accident in which driver Chris Bertram was not injured.


The addition of the U-9 will make a field of 12 unlimited hydros expected to be in the Stan Sayres Pit Area for the Chevrolet Cup at Seafair.


Jean Theoret, who has not driven since being hospitalized after an accident at the Madison Regatta, is expected to return to the cockpit of the U-37 Hoss Mortgage Investors.


Steve David and the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto used a nearly perfect weekend at the Columbia Cup to take a 599-point lead over Villwock and Miss Elam Plus in 2009 national high points.


Unllimited Hydroplane testing and qualifying for the Chevrolet Cup at Seafair begins Friday morning, with racing scheduled to begin with heat 1-A Saturday at 2:45 pm PDT.  The championship heat is scheduled for 4:40 pm Sunday.

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.