Jimmy Shane spent most of the offseason without a team.
But the driver who piloted the 5 Graham Trucking to the H1 Unlimited high points championship last season was just waiting for the official announcement, which finally came a few weeks ago.
Shane, 27, is the new driver for the 6 Oberto team, taking the place of Steve David, who retired at the end of last season.
After getting a full-time ride in the Graham Trucking for owner Ted Porter in 2012, Shane drove the boat to a second-place finish for the season behind David and Oberto.
In 2013, however, Shane outdueled David to take the national high points title.
Shanes confidence was pretty high going into the 2013 season.
It was extremely high, he said. Even coming into the first season, I thought we had a good shot for 2012, because I had really good equipment. We were always there at every final.
Over the two seasons, the youngster earned six race victories, including 2012 at the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup.
So last fall, when Shane decided to leave Porters team, it was not an easy decision for him.
It was extremely hard to leave, Shane told the Herald. There was all the crew guys, and it was six years since Mike Allen won it all (for Graham). Its extremely tough. But I had a lot of options at the end of the season. With Ted, it was one year at a time. I tried to get more than a year on a contract.
You just never know in this business if things will last. Two years ago he was ready to sell the team off, he added.
Shane feels like he can relate well with crew members because hes worked on boats himself over the years.
Ive always built my own boat, engines, propellors, he said. I think thats a big advantage.
One of the worst-kept secrets this offseason was that Shane left the Graham for Oberto. But the Miss Madison team wouldnt make any announcements one way or the other, until this past week.
Shane considers it an honor to be in the drivers seat for the Oberto and City of Madison, Ind.
Its more than about just driving the boat, he said. Its representing all of the owners and the entire city, and all of the history it stands for. Its actually a lot more than driving the boat.
And he knows hes replacing a legend in David, who was a good driver but also a public relations and marketing firms dream with his relationship with the fans.
Shane is ready for that challenge to be as good or better than David at that.
Steve was there for 13 years, said Shane. You can see how the fans react to him, how the town gets involved.
Hopefully I can take that up a level.
Notes: While Shane is coming to the Madison team, crew chief Mike Hanson is going. He makes his permanant home in Bonney Lake, and hes going to be the new crew chief for the new 96 Spirit of Qatar. Hanson said he wanted to be closer to home and family. ... Madison team manager Charlie Grooms said he has a short list of five to six replacement candidates for Hanson. ... H1 Unlimited Chairman Sam Cole announced at the annual meetings that the Diamond Cup in Coeur dAlene will once again return for the 2014 season. The bigger news is that H1 decided to drop the park and starts starting procedure and no scoreup bouys. Boats will have to be going a minimum 80 mph and will have to pick a lane by the entrance of the final turn before the start. ... Other news and notes from the banquet: The Tri-Cities Water Follies received an Award of Excellence from H1. It goes to a race site for its supreme quality and execution throughout race weekend. ... KNDU television also won an award for best television coverage, and our own Tri-City Herald was honored for best race print coverage.