Madison cancels hydro race in Indiana

By Jeff Morrow, Herald sports editorJuly 7, 2013 

Steve David, the driver for the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, found the good and bad in H1 Unlimited’s inability to run the Lucas Oil Indiana Governor’s Cup race in Madison, Ind., this weekend.

On the one hand, the fleet of 10 unlimiteds was unable to race because of the high water of the Ohio River. And David and Oberto didn’t get the chance to race in front of the team’s hometown fans.

“But on the bright side, we had a phenomenal engagement with fans,” said David. “We had all the boats lined up and let the fans come through and take tours of the boats. The fans got to touch it and feel it so close to them.”

That’s the bright side.

The bottom line is the H1 lost a race on its schedule for 2013, putting more pressure on drivers and teams.

“It makes every heat from here on out that much more important,” said David. “We wanted to make up the 23 points (Oberto was trailing Jimmy Shane and the U-5 Graham Trucking in the national high-point standings) at this race. And we thought we would.”

But with high water rising from torrential rains moving above the entire pit area along Madison’s riverfront, officials had to cancel the event.

H1 Unlimited Chairman Sam Cole said the group was optimistic about racing when it arrived in Indiana.

“We were all set,” Cole said. “The highest (awter level) we ever raced here was at 29 feet.” By Thursday the water had risen to 29.5 feet, then 32 feet.

“The rains continued and it got to 36, 37 feet,” Cole said. “There’s nothing you can do. There’s a dam 40 miles downsteam from here, and they’re letting water out as fast as they could.”

“We were prepared to race at 29 feet,” said H1 Unlimited Chief Referee Mike Noonan. There are no plans to make up the race this season.

“We had two options,” said Cole. “The week after Detroit we could have raced, but we would have to have a Friday-Saturday format, because the teams would need that Sunday to travel to the Tri-Cities. No. 2 would have been doing it after San Diego.”

But Cole brought up the point that trying to reschedule in Madison has been done twice before — in 1974 and 1998 — and both proved to be financially disastrous trying to reschedule such a big event.

It’s better, he said, to come back next year.

“(The weather) is the one factor in our sport, in any sport, that we can’t control,” Cole said. “There was nothing we can do. Fans back here are boat-race savvy. They’re disappointed but they understand.”

The series moves on this coming weekend to Detroit for the APBA Gold Cup.

Then the boats come to the Tri-Cities for the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup on July 26-28.

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