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This weekend of July 5 – 7 marks the 102 anniversary of powerboat racing on the Ohio River at Madison, Indiana and the 64th consecutive year of unlimited hydroplane racing following the first appearance of an unlimited hydroplane at the Madison Regatta (My Darling in 1950).
This weekend, race fans will once again be treated to the spectacle of the fastest competitive craft on water as 10 unlimited hydroplanes vie for the Lucas Oil Indiana Governor’s Cup on the Bill Cantrell Memorial Race Course. Madison is the third stop on the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series schedule following races in Doha Qatar in February and Sacramento, Calif., last month. Madison is one of eight race sites on the 2013 H1 Unlimited calendar.
The race course was named in memory of 1954 Governor’s Cup winner Bill Cantrell following the longtime boat and auto racer’s death in 1996. Cantrell had won the main event in three Madison Regattas back in the 1930s as well. Cantrell, who competed in three Indianapolis 500 races, retired to Madison following his racing career, and with fellow Madisonian, the late Graham Heath, campaigned an unlimited as team co-owners for several years.
Two favorites stand a little higher than the rest of the field as the unlimited fleet moves into the little city opposite Trimble County. The hometown favorite and reigning high point champion is the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison driven by the ever-popular Steve David of Lighthouse, Fla. David and the Oberto won the Sacramento race on June 2. Also rated a co-favorite is the U-5 Graham Trucking with young driving sensation Jimmy Shane at the helm. Shane won the 2012 season-ending race and the 2013 season-opening race—both in Doha Qatar.
Missing in action this year is defending Governor’s Cup champion Dave Villwock, who holds the record for most wins in unlimited racing history. Villwock announced his retirement from driving prior to the start of the season.
Qualifying and the first section of elimination heats will be held Saturday. Multiple elimination heats will also be held Sunday leading up to the coveted Lucas Oil Indiana Governor’s Cup championship heat set for 4:20pm on Sunday.