By Harry Gatjens
The Edmonds-based Miss Peters and May unlimited hydroplane leaves Wednesday for the first race of the U.S. portion of the 2013 season.
The race will be held this coming weekend in Sacramento, Calif. Testing will begin on Friday, followed by qualifying and heat racing on Saturday. Sunday has more heat racing, followed by the winner-take-all final at 4 p.m.
This is the first race of a seven-race schedule that includes competitions in Madison, Ind., Detroit, the Tri-Cities, Seattle, San Diego and perhaps a new race in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
The Miss Peters and May team will be introducing a new hull for the upcoming season. As you may remember, last year’s hull was extensively damaged when the boat collided with another hydroplane in the opening race of the season, in Doha, Qatar. With the shipping schedule of three months, team owners Scott and Shannon Raney knew that there would be no time to repair the boat for the season opener.
Scott Raney, co-Owner and crew chief said “In Doha we came to the conclusion that our previous hull was severely damaged and due to the schedule would not be back in the USA until the end of April. That simply did not leave us enough time to get her prepared for the second race of the season so we had a discussion with (Miss Peters and May CEO) Dave Holley and unanimously decided to take on the challenge of bringing T4 back to her former glory.”
The T4 that Raney refers to is a former Miss Budweiser built in 1994 but then extensively remodeled in 2002 by Raney himself when working with Bill Wurster’s team. With the reworking, the boat was quite competitive until it was damaged when its skid fin was knocked off at a race in Detroit and hit a seawall at over 100 mph.
While the boat was damaged, Raney knew of its overall construction and that if were repaired, it would actually be a better hull than last year’s. The other advantage was that the boat was available immediately in February, rather than having to wait for last year’s boat to be shipped back from Qatar.
The team has been working around the clock in order to get the new boat ready.
There will be 10 boats attending this weekend’s race. They include:
1 Oh Boy! Oberto – driven by veteran Steve David of Lighthouse Point, Fla. The sport’s only community-owned entry and one of the few of its kind in all of motorsports, the team is owned by the 13,000 citizens of Madison, Ind. The team is the defending H1 Series Champion and has won that title four times since 2008. David has won the H1 Drivers Championship six of the last eight years.
5 Graham Trucking – driven by Jimmy Shane of Havre de Grace, Maryland. The 27-year-old Shane had a spectacular season his first full year as an Unlimited pilot. Shane’s first career victory came in the Columbia Cup at Kennewick in late July of 2012 and he finished the season by winning the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship in Doha, Qatar in January of this year. He returned to Doha and repeated the victory in the 2013 season opener in February.
9 Miss Roxsand/41 Live/Red Dot – driven by Jon Zimmerman of Maple Valley, Wash. One of the pleasant surprises of the 2013 season, as two former Miss Budweiser crew members headed up a team that turned an older boat into a front runner. Zimmerman, a former 5 Liter world record holder, scored podium finishes in the January and February races in Doha and finished 4th in 2012 Series High Points out of the 15 teams who competed.
11 Peters & May – driven by Tom Thompson of Cambridge, Maryland. Before joining the Unlimited Racing Group in 2012, Thompson was known as one of the most versatile drivers in the Inboard Categories, successfully driving boats of every hull design. 2013 will be Thompson’s first full season driving in the APBA’s biggest, fastest class.
14 Toyota – driven by Greg Hopp of Lake Stevens, Wash. A late entry by a new team formed by veteran Unlimited crewman and crew chief Jay Leckrone. In early May, Leckrone announced he had leased the 13 Spirit of Detroit from owner Dave Bartush of Detroit and would campaign the hull throughout the 2013 H1 Unlimited Season. Hopp is a veteran of 12 years of Unlimited competition, scoring many heat victories for the late Fred Leland and the Leland Unlimited team.
22 Rocky Mountain Window Tint – driven by Mike Webster of Redding, Penn. Webster Racing’s 2012 racing season was cut short by a devastating blow-over accident at the Detroit APBA Gold Cup in July. The driver was not injured but the boat suffered severe damage. In Sacramento, the family run team will be debuting a completely rebuilt race boat for the beginning of the U.S. portion of the 2013 season. Mike Webster, a former national champion in the National Modified class, has been driving the family’s Unlimited entry since 2009.
37 Performance Chevrolet – driven by J. Michael Kelly of Bonney Lake, Wash. Owners Billy and Jane Schumacher of Seattle return to the scene of Billy’s victory in the 1967 race on Folsom Lake where he drove Miss Bardahl to the win the last time Unlimiteds raced in Sacramento. The team hopes a change made in propellers at the February race in Doha will give the talented Kelly the boat ride he needs to be a consistent front runner.
57 FEDCO – Driven by N. Mark Evans of Chelan, Wash. Mark Evans, 56, has a long and impressive resume as an Unlimited hydroplane pilot. His 10 victories rank among the most by active drivers and have included wins for five different owners including Ron Jones, Jr, Fred Leland, Bernie Little, Erick Ellstrom and Bill Wurster. Before the 2012 season, Evans became a team owner when he purchased the 57 Formulaboats.com from Precision Performance Racing.
95 Spirit of Qatar – driven by Kip Brown of Ravensdale, Wash. After the 96 Spirit of Qatar, owned by Ellstrom Racing of Seattle, sustained major damage at the 2012 Oryx Cup in Doha in January, team owner Eric Ellstrom announced the sponsorship would move to the boat owned by Our Gang Racing for the 2013 season. 17 Miss Red Dot became 95 Spirit of Qatar for the February Oryx Cup and will carry the colors of the flag of Qatar in 2013. Kip Brown was the H1 Unlimited Rookie of the Year in 2008.
100 Leland Unlimited – driven by Ryan Mallow of Tacoma. Following the passing of popular owner Fred Leland in 2012, the team announced they would race on in his honor. Late in the season, the team promoted 32-year-old Mallow to the driver’s seat. The team’s race boat for 2013 is the newest of the Leland hulls, but has not seen action for some time. It will feature a different profile and color scheme than the team’s 2012 hull. Mallow is a former 1 Liter, 5 Liter and Grand Prix driver
Watch for continuing coverage of the 2013 Unlimited hydroplane season, here on My Edmonds News.