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Special Online Edition THE MADISON COURIER

Madison Regatta

‘A heck of a cost of winning a race’ Monday, July 4, 2011

Collision with Qatar overshadows Oberto win on home course

Photo courtesy Katie Brown/KaTor Photography, Lewisburg, Ky.


injury. After examining video, H1 Unlimited officials ruled that the accident was Villwock’s fault and he was disqualified. David, who was running in second place at the time of the accident and considered “an innocent victim,” was awarded the win. “Dave just got a little loose and hooked in front of me,” David, of Lighthouse Point, Fla., said. “There was nothing I could do and nothing he could do. It was just racing.” The collision was the second of the day and injurywise, was the less severe. In Heat 3A, Brian Perkins of Black Diamond, Wash., missed a buoy in the middle of turn one after taking a big hop and decided to steer his U-21 Miss Lakeridge Paving back through the infield to pick up the buoy.

By DAVID CAMPBELL Courier Staff Writer

ever has a victory come at such a cost. Steve David drove the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/ Miss Madison to its second-straight win on its home waters Sunday, but not before colliding with the U-96 Spirit of Qatar in the final heat of the Lucas Oil 61st Annual Indiana Governor’s Cup on Sunday. The Spirit of Qatar, driven by Dave Villwock, was leading the final by four boat-lengths from lane two when he hit a rough patch in the water in turn one and hooked right into the path of the oncoming Oberto. With no where to go, David had no choice but to run right over the Qatar at over 150 mph. The race was stopped immediately and safety and rescue crews rushed to the scene of the violent crash. However, both drivers were able to climb out of their boats under the own power and both escaped serious


Courier staff photo by David Campbell

The Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison barrel-rolls after a collision with the Spirit of Qatar (top) in the final heat of the 2011 Indiana Governor’s Cup Sunday. Driver Steve David hangs his head while waiting for a rescue boat (bottom) and gets a hug from crew chief Mike Hanson after returning to the pits following a trip to the hospital to be checked out. David escaped serious injury and was awarded the win when the Qatar and driver Dave Villwock were disqualified.

Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell

Indiana Governor’s Cup Final Heat

(Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)

The U-17 Miss Red Dot (left), U-96 Spirit of Qatar and the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison power down to the start.

(Courier staff photo by David Campbell)

The U-96 Spirit of Qatar starts to pull away on the backstretch with U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison giving chase.

The U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison pulls back even with the U-96 Spirit of Qatar.

The U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison flies high and hangs on its skidfin going into turn one.

(Courier file photo by David Campbell)

(Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)

(Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)

U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison crashes into and over the U-96 Spirit of Qatar (above) after the Qatar hooked in turn one of lap three of Sunday’s Indiana Governor’s Cup final heat. Both drivers escaped serious injury but the impact heavily damaged both boats. The Oberto rolls and rotates upside down after the collision (below) and then slams into the Ohio River on its left side (bottom). (Staff photos by Mark Campbell)

Conclusion In the process of returning to the course, Perkins boat slammed into the safety and rescue craft, went over top the low aluminum hull and knocked all three of the boat’s occupants into the water. Two of the three were flown to Louisville with one listed in critical condition. The other rescue volunteer and Perkins were taken to King’s Daughters’ Hospital. The rescue worker was being treated for a lacretation while Perkins was released with no injuries. Later, the Oberto-Qatar collision ruined what was shaping up to be an impressive duel between the circuit’s top two teams. By a quirk of the blind draw, the pair drew away from each other in each of the preliminary heats, and each picked up easy wins. In the final, David took his one required warm-up lap at speed and then parked his boat in lane one, throttling the engine down to just a tick above idle. The maneuver left Villwock in lane two. Once the race started, the Qatar was noticeably faster on the straightaways, but the Oberto was better in the turns. However, David said he had a feeling that something could happen at any time. “Dave and I were having a great race. We had him in the turns and he had us in the straightaways. And he just went into that turn hot,” David said. “He wasn’t taking the turns well and he hooked it right in front of us. I just T-boned right over him.” “I knew as soon as I hit that hole and hooked (a collision) was a possibility,” Villwock said. “There was no way he could avoid it. So I kind of got small in the cockpit.” According to H1 Unlimited rules, any boat that causes the stoppage of a heat is automatically disqualified. There was no question that Villwock would be disqualified, but whether or not David would be had yet to be determined. After a review of the race video and nearly 30 minutes of deliberation, H1 announced the Villwock was indeed disqualified but that the Oberto would be allowed to retain its position and thus was awarded the win. In explaining the ruling, chief referee Mike Noonan said that David simply had no choice. “After watching the video, it has been determined that the U-96 came out of its lane and caused the wreck and is disqualified,” Noonan said. “The U-1 was simply an innocent victim and had nothing to do with the accident. Therefore, the win is awarded to the U-1.” David had spent the last two weeks talking about how the return to “fighting for lanes” and the smaller course could lead to more wrecks, especially in turn one. But David said that this accident had nothing to do with the course. “This was an accident that could have happened in any turn,” David said. “It was just one of those things.” “It was a little like a Daytona wreck. The last lap or at the later stages of the race, we got into a hole and ended up wrecking,” Villwock said. “It’s just one of those racing deals.” Lost in the excitement of the final was the weekend that Kip Brown turned in aboard the U-17 Miss Red Dot. The third-year veteran had never won a heat of competition but picked up wins in both preliminary heats in impressive fashion. He was physically running third in the final at the time of the wreck and was awarded second-place overall. While others around him felt like he should have been declared the winner, Brown was more than willing to accept second place. “A fantastic weekend. Really, the final kind of played into our hands,” Brown said. “I took lane three because I kind of figured that those two guys were going to dice it up. What our plan was was that one of them would cut in front of the other, put that one’s fire out and get disqualified we would get the win. It didn’t happen that way and it took 20 or 30 minutes, but I’ll take second.” Rookie Scott Liddycoat had the most impressive weekend. Liddycoat had never driven an Unlimited before Friday but finished with a pair of second places in preliminary heat action and third in the final. “Our goals were to come here, get qualified and stay out of trouble,” Liddycoat said. “The team put together an awesome ride.” The fleet heads north to Detroit next weekend for the biggest race of the season with a myriad of question marks. The damage to the Oh Boy! Oberto already has the team searching for a replacement hull while the Qatar team is thrashing to make repairs. Late Sunday night, the Qatar team posted a statement on its Facebook page detailing the damage. “The boat has damage to the left sponson and skidfin mounting area. There is a 6-foot section of deck torn out behind the skidfin. The engine and motor mounts were destroyed along with the rear wing and mounting hardware. The cockpit area is intact,” the statement read. “Ed Cooper is allowing us to use his shop to make repairs. We are flying people out from Seattle and intend to be ready for the Gold Cup next weekend. — end—

(Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)

U-96 Spirit of Qatar driver Dave Villwock climbs from his enclosed canopy after the crash as safety and rescue workers close in on the wreckage.

(Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)

The U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison driver Steve David walks toward the safety and rescue boat as rescuers assist.

(Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)

U-96 Spirit of Qatar driver Dave Villwock stands on the wreckage of his boat before boarding a safety and rescue boat.

Two safety and rescue divers ride in on the damaged hull of the U-96 Spirit of Qatar (top), Dave Villwock (upper right) surveys damage to his boat in the Madison pits while the crew of the Oh Boy! Oberto begins working on that boat. After returning from being checked out at King’s Daughters’ Hospital, Oberto driver Steve David interacts with Little Miss Madison Regatta Julia Settles and her mother Whitney Settles (sequence at right) and then gets a hug. Courier staff photo top by Mark Campbell, all others by David Campbell

The Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison won its second consecutive Indiana Governor’s Cup Sunday but may now have a tough time winning its fourth straight national championship after the boat was heavily damaged in the final heat. Crew chief Mike Hanson (bottom) accompanied the damaged boat as it was towed back to shore. Miss Madison president Bob Hughes and sponsor company owner Art Oberto received the Governor’s Cup when driver Steve David had to miss the trophy presentation because he was being checked out at the local hospital. David escaped serious injury. (Photo top and bottom by Mark Campbell, photo below by David Campbell)

Collision doesn’t cost Oberto/Miss Madison win but leaves team scrambling to defend title


By DAVID CAMPBELL Courier Staff Writer

n paper, the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison’s quest for a fourth-straight national championship couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. The reality, however, is a far different story. The Oberto currently sits in first place in the National High Points standings with 1,280 points off the strength of the win at Madison. But a collision with Dave Villwock and the U-96 Spirit of Qatar in Sunday’s final heat has left the team scrambling to find a way to compete in this weekend’s APBA Gold Cup in Detroit. “All the safety systems worked. His canopy worked, my canopy worked. But the boat took significant damage,” said driver Steve David. “Unfortunately, it’s going to screw up our fourth-consecutive national championship. We won a race, but that’s a heck of a cost of winning a race.” David was in lane one and holding tight to the Qatar’s left side when that boat hit a rough patch of water and hooked right into the Oberto’s path. David had less than a second to react before the two boats collided. David was taken to King’s Daughters’ Hospital for X-rays and was released. While he is sore, he was walking and in good spirits. “My ribs hurt and it’s hard to breathe but other than that, I’m fine,” he said. With David OK, attention for the team instantly turned to that of his five-year-old boat. Since being built in 2007, the boat has now won eight races — one more than the Miss Madison team did in the previous 45 years — but Sunday’s wreck is by far the worst that the boat has experienced. Team manager Charlie Grooms said that evaluations were already under way and a meeting was scheduled for noon today to discuss the team’s options.

“I’ve told (crew chief) Mike (Hanson) to take off all the hatches and see exactly how bad the boat is and after that, we’ll have a better idea,” Grooms said. “Right now, the plan is to probably lease another boat for Detroit.” Sponsor Larry Oberto said that the top priority will be to get the boat fixed, not necessarily to win a race. “We’re not going to rush it.

We’re going to fix it correctly,” said Oberto. “Hopefully, we’ll have it ready by Seattle.” Grooms said that preparations are already being made to take the boat to Seattle for repairs. Hanson makes his home in the Seattle area and the boat was originally designed and built in Seattle. There is no shortage of boats that the team can lease, ranging from some that were in the pits

in Madison to at least six that are currently sitting throughout the country. But speculation has already centered around the U-9 Jones Racing hull owned by Mike and Lori Jones of Seattle. Hanson drove for the Joneses for three years in the late 1990s and early 2000s and won two races with the team, including the 2001 Gold Cup. That particular boat was built by Hanson.

Despite the team’s woes and his own personal pain, David still couldn’t help put think about the rescue workers that were injured when an Unlimited collided with their boat earlier in the day. “Thank God I’m OK and Dave’s OK and our thoughts really go to the rescue workers,” David said. “We’re racers but they’re volunteers and we’re praying for them.”

Tragedy Strikes The Miss Lakeridge Paving (right) crashes down after running into and going over top a Madison Regatta Safety and Rescue tow boat. A safety and rescue diver leaps into the Ohio River to render aid to the injured (below). Perkins sits on his boat with his head down as rescue workers tend to the injured and try to keep his boat from sinking (lower). Perkins, who escaped serious injury, waves to fans as he is loaded into an abulance for transport to King’s Daughters’ Hospital. Staff photos right, below and lower by Mark Campbell, bottom by David Campbell

Collision with safety/rescue boat sends four to hospital


A collective gasp arose from the crowd when the U-21 Lakeridge Paving hit a rescue boat at the Madison Regatta on Sunday afternoon. Doug Hamilton witnessed the accident on the first corner of the track. “He didn’t make the buoy and he was cutting back around to get it when he ran over the boat,” Hamilton said. “He flipped and landed right side up. It only took like three seconds.” Lakeridge Paving driver Brian Perkins was exiting turn one when he hit a patch of rough water and hooked slightly causing him to run inside of the center turn buoy. Rather than take the one-lap penalty, Perkins steered the boat into the infield and cut back across to the front stretch in an attempt to take the turn again. But witnesses said that water had washed over the canopy and the 26-year-old driver from North Bend, Wash., apparently could not see that he was heading right at a course tow boat. He was still accelerating when he hit the small aluminum boat

straight on. All three safety and rescue volunteers on the boat were thrown into the water. Chris Cutshall, 31, of Madison and Angela Greenwell, 34, of Louisville, were flown to University Hospital. Cutshall was listed in critical condition with head and body injuries while Greenwell was in serious but stable condition with a broken femur. The third person on the boat, Michael Brand, 46, of Middletown, Ohio, was transported to King’s Daughters’ Hospital and is listed in stable condition with lacerations to his head and cuts and abrasions. Perkins was also taken to KDH for precautions but was released. A hush came over the crowd in the moments following the accident while many rushed to gather in the grass closest to the first corner in order to get a better view of drivers and rescue personel rendering aid to the injured and trying to recover the hydroplane and the rescue craft. Denine Hallgarth was one of the spectators. “We came down from the

other end of the street to see what happened,” Hallgarth said. “Everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, is everyone OK?’” Steve Stewart also witnessed the accident. He said he thought when the hydroplane ran over the metal rescue boat the canopy flew off onto the shore. He also saw the rescue boat being towed back to the bank. “It’s pretty well beat up,” Stewart said. Kyle Kepley said that, like many other people in the crowd, he didn’t actually see the accident. “People didn’t really know what happened,” Kepley said. “They were watching the race leaders and at first I don’t think the announcers even knew what happened because they kept going. I think a lot of people didn’t know there was a wreck, but just thought he was dead in the water.” In the moments after the accident, Hallgarth had a sobering thought that conveyed how intertwined the people of Madison are with the Regatta. “I just hope they’re OK,” Hallgarth said. “Madison is a small town. I’m sure it is some people we know.”

Jane Schumacher of Schumacher Racing breaks a ceremonial bottle of champagne (above) on the skid fin of the brand new 88 Degree Men Unlimited hydroplane (above) before launching the boat for its first race. (Staff photos by David Campbell)

Bianca Bononcini (left) waits patiently if somewhat disappointedly for a chance to get behind the wheel of the U-57 Bononcini is part of Formula’s driver development program. Art “Oh Boy! Oberto” (right) dives into his daily serving of ice cream on Vaughn Drive. (Staff photo left by David Campbell, right by Mark Campbell).

The U-21 Miss Lakeridge Paving (left), U-5 Miss Graham Trucking and U-96 Spirit of Qatar power through turn two while heading to the start in Heat 2A on Sunday. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)

GOVERNOR’S CUP STATS 61st LUCAS OIL INDIANA GOVERNOR’S CUP Ohio River Madison, Ind. Length: 1.67 miles Results Sunday, July 3 FINAL HEAT* 1. Steve David, U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/ Miss Madison; 2. Kip Brown, U-17 Miss Red Dot; 3. Scott Liddycoat, U7; 4. Jeff Bernard, U-5 Graham Trucking; Dave Villwock, U96 Spirit of Qatar, DSQ. *-heat was called after three complete laps. PRELIMINARY HEATS Saturday, July 2 HEAT 1A 1. Steve David, U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, 126.601; 2. Jeff Bernard, U-5 Graham Trucking, 120.330; 3. J.W. Myers, U-11 Miss Peters & May, 95.649. HEAT 1B 1. Dave Villwock, U-96 Spirit of Qatar, 129.144; 2. Brian Perkins, U-21 Miss Lakeridge Paving, 119.797; 3. Mark Evans, U-57 Formulaboats. com, 112.921; 4. Greg Hopp, U-100 Leland Unlimited, 123.588*. *-penalized one lap for lane change HEAT 1C 1. Kip Brown, U-17 Miss Red Dot, 130.667; 2. Scott Liddycoat, U-7, 122.978; 3. Mike Webster, U-22 Miss Broadway Tavern, 116.697. Sunday, July 3 HEAT 2A 1. Kip Brown, U-17 Miss Red Dot, 125.678; 2. Greg Hopp, U-100, 118.322; 3. Mark Evans, U-57, 105.252; 4. Mike Webster, U-22 Miss Broadway Tavern, 103.833. HEAT 2B 1. Steve David, U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, 121.448; 2. Scott Liddycoat, U-7; 3. J.W. Myers, U-11 Miss Peters & May, 109.007; J. Michael Kelly, 88 Degree Men, DNS. HEAT 2C 1. Dave Villwock, U-96 Spirit of Qatar, 125.414; 2. Jeff Bernard, U-5 Graham Trucking, 121.102; 3. Brian Perkins, U-21 Miss Lakeridge Paving, 116.349. CURRENT POINTS STANDINGS BOATS 1. U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, 1,280; 2. U-17 Miss Red Dot, 1,170; 3. U-96 Spirit of Qatar, 900; 4. U-7 Valken. com, 825; 5. U-5 Graham Trucking, 819; 6. U-21 Miss Lakeridge Paving, 525; 7. U-11 Miss Peters & May, 490; 8. U-100 Leland Unlimited, 469; 9. U-57, 450; 10. U-22 Miss Broadway Tavern, 394; 11. U-25 Superior Racing, 0; 11. 88 Degree Men, 0. DRIVERS 1. Steve David, U-1, 1,280; 2. Kip Brown, U-17, 1,170; 3. Dave Villwock, U-96, 900; 4. Jeff Bernard, 819; 5. Scott Liddycoat, U-7, 765; 6. Brian Perkins, U-21, 525; 7. J.W. Myers, U-11, 490; 8. Greg Hopp, U-100, 469; 9. Mark Evans, U-57, 450; 10. Mike Webster, U-22, 394; 11. J. Michael Kelly, 88, 0; 11. Ken Muscatel, U-25, 0.

The U-17 Miss Red Dot driver Kip Brown (right) got a hug and a kiss from wife, Tiffany, after finishing first in Heat 1C on Saturday, Brown had a solid weekend with two heat wins and a second place in the final. (Staff photo by David Campbell)

Driver J.W. Myers and the U-11 Miss Peters and May flies high on the frontstretch while charging to the start in Heat 1A on Saturday. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)

Air National Guard Flyover & Air Show

Brent Hunter Air Shows performs over the Ohio River and downtown Madison for Madison Regatta spectators Saturday and Sunday with an array of loops, spins, climbs and dives in his Curtis Pitts bi-plane. (Staff photos by Mark Campbell)


wo A-10 Warthog military aircraft from the 122nd Fighter Wing perform a flyover during opening ceremonies of the Lucas Oil 61st Annual Indiana Governor’s Cup Madison Regatta on Sunday prior to the opening race of the Air National Guard H1 Unlimited hydroplane series season opener. (Staff photo by David Campbell)

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