Jean Theoret in the Ellstrom Racing's U-16 Oh Boy Oberto, replete in 1975 Oh Boy Throwback livery, took Pole position at Tri Cities with a lap of 160.000mph. (Image source: h1unlimited.com)
Hurrah to Art Oberto for personally bringing the Northwest's favourite Jerky boat back to the Stan Sayres pits...
Ro-Ro', here I go again, as the year's just slipped away from Mwah, as your humble No Fenders scribe has been playing too much lately, having totally missed the H1 Unlimiteds Second Act this season on the Mighty Columbia last weekend, amongst other races around thou globe whilst gallivanting at Mount Rainier via 'Enumscratch... (Enumclaw)
Hence, I totally missed thee memo regarding Art Oberto's decision to personally pay for his 'lil Snasages company, who Y'all may have heard that some Dude named Sherm' (Richard Sherman) of the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks has become their Pitchman, agreed to a two-race dealio with a rival competitor this year.
Since when finally getting to listen to the Tri Cities Herald HAPO Columbia Cup race recap on my NFB Newsline for The Blind telephone service, which wasn't available until Tuesday, August 2nd, two days afterwards, I originally thought it must be a mistake?
As the story noted how the U-16 Oh boy Oberto; Huh? Jean "Jumpin' Jaques Flash" Theoret had collided with the U-1 Home Street Bank's Jimmy Shane. For which any longtime Hydroplane Aficionado knows that Shane and others, most notably H1 Unlimited Chairman Steve David have driven the Miss Madison, which for decades was the Oberto to multiple wins and National High Points Championships.
Yet after Oberto announced its decision to quit the sport of Unlimited Hydroplane racing at the conclusion of last year's season finale at San Diego, Eric Ellstrom with help has struck an arrangement to run the Oh Boy Oberto's Flag in 1970's Throwback livery with Jean Theoret at the controls for the two Warshintonion' events, nee Tri Cities and Seattle - whilst we can simply dream of this partnership lasting thru the season, and perhaps beyond?
And like 'Ol 'R, aka Robin Miller says "We need Hate;" Err "Hate's Good!" Not to mention controversy, not only to stir up emotions, cause lots of Water Cooler chatter and ultimately sell tickets. This year's Columbia Cup Hydro race was Chock-O'block with that when the two aforementioned contestants collided during the final heat's second lap!
Thus effectively gifting the win to J. Michael Kelly and Graham Trucking who'd started the race behind in third place before both combatants fell foul to 1-lap penalties.
All of which sets up a good 'Ol fashioned Donnybrook just waiting to be waged between Theoret, Shane and Kelly, the race's winner the past two years, while Shane won at Seattle in 2013, ironically aboard the Graham Trucking and Theoret's won Seafair twice in 2005-06.
As this triumberant's gotta be the odds on favourites for victory this Sunday at Lake Washington, since they seem a cut above everyone else with their five combined victories, albeit Seafair's known for surprise winners.
Surely it would be most shocking if second fastest qualifier at Tri Cities, rookie Andrew Tate pulled a "Rabbit outta thou Hat" in the patched-up U-9Les Schwab.
While a popular winner would be the U-99.9 Car Star powered KISW Miss Rock, Freddy Leland's boat doesn't seem to have the speed, and ditto for the U-21. With Thom Thompson being a Dark-horse pick...
Meanwhile, Seattle's Seafair Hydroplane race is celebrating its momentous 65th anniversary, as notice how I didn't say birthday 'cause I didn't want to conjure up any ideas of Senior Citizenry; Hya!
SEAFAIR: Famous Names from the Golden Ages of Powerboat Racing and Beyond weave Roostertails in Seattle
As the Unlimiteds first raced on the shores of Lake Washington on August 4, 1951 during the era when the previous year's Gold Cup winner's Yacht Club hosted the following year's event on its home waters.
For which the East Coast was shocked by the radical Slo Mo Shun's stunning Gold Cup victory at Detroit in 1950. As much of the nation had NO clue of where the Emerald City was, being somewheres' far, far away on the west coast!
As Lou Fageol, whom I've scribbled 'bout previously regarding his connection to 'Ol Mother Speedway, some 'lil racin' Oval track at thee corner of 16th & Georgetown, not only won the prestigious Gold Cup convincingly for Stan Sayres and the Seattle Yacht Club in 1951, but repeated in 1953 as co-driver and again in 1954.
As surely those rowdy Seafair Pirates R Mateys, have landed at Alki Beach by now, with the Blue Angels taking to the skies daily with their new No. 6 Opposing Solo pilot having been named earlier. As Navy Cmdr. Frank Weisser
, a previous Blues pilot between 2008-2010 returns to the fold.
And don't forget 'bout "Fat Albert," the Blues support transport Aeroplane performing as usual over Lake Washington, where the legendous Boeing Test Pilot Alvin Tex' Johnston once famously barrel-rolled a Boeing Pre-Production Dash 80, forerunner of the company's hugely successful 707 passenger jet not once, but twice to amazed onlookers!
VIDEO: Tex Johnston on Barrel Roll
Another yearly tradition continues with Fleet Week commencing upon the waters of Puget Sound, with the Canadian Royal Navy and some Stars 'N Stripes "Schooners" offering public tours during Seafair at selected waterfront piers.
SEAFAIR 2016 PROVISIONAL ENTRY LIST
No. Name Driver
U-1 Miss Home Street Jimmy Shane
U-3 Miss DiJulio Jimmy King
U-5 Graham Trucking J. Michael Kelly
U-7 Graham Trucking II Jeff Bernard
U-9 Les Schwab R-Andrew Tate
GBR.11 Miss Peters & May Thom Thompson
U-16 Oh Boy Oberto Jean Theoret
U-21 Miss Albert Lee Appliance Brian Perkins
U-99.9 Car Star Miss Rock Kevin Eacret
(R = Rookie)
The U-27 Dalton Industries which suffered a 'Mega Blowover accident at the season opener in Indiana when chasing eventual winner Jimmy Shane for the victory while running second, apparently is still being repaired and wasn't included in the Hulls listed for Seafair.
The U-18 Bucket List Racing Hydroplane which failed to qualify at Tri Cities due to Gearbox issues, is rumoured to be a long shot to race in Seafair this year...
Meanwhile the U-9 Les Schwab "Sound Propeller" boat - for which I just had the unexpected pleasure of visiting the Les Schwab store in Enumclaw, WA, home of some Roundy-round Taxicab driver named Kasey Kahne; but I digress...
Ironically threw a prop! Uhm, sheared a blade in Tri Cities, which their rookie chauffer immediately shutdown the Hydro's blower, nee turbine, (Powerplant) but still suffered considerable damage to the underside of the hull which has been repaired "Justin-time" for Seafair.
Now comes word that Sound Propeller Services will continue on in its association this weekend with the U-9 Jones Racing squad as it's presenting sponsor, with the boat being rebranded as the U-9 Sound Propeller Services presents Les Schwab Tires.
As Sound Propeller Services is a local Seattle company whose clients most notably include the fleet of television's The Deadliest Catch.
And lastly, presumably local legend Chip Hanauer, the sport's third winningest driver will once again handle the day long television coverage on local CBS Affiliate KIRO7, anchored by The Voice of the Seattle Seahawks, Steve :HOLY SMOKES!" Raible, as OH SHIT! It's almost football time; Hut-Hut-Hut!