U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto Miss Madison ready to go for Evansville
The boat will be ready to go in the water Friday in Evansville for the start of the 2007 unlimited hydroplane racing season. "I'm sitting about 15 feet from the boat in Madison," said U-6 driver Steve David. "It's done."
Before that, Steve and the crew will be setting up cockpit, steering wheel and pedal placement for the driver.
The old U-6 ran 16 seasons and the team got great performance out of it. David captured the National Driver High Points Championship in the old boat the last two years. "It was state of the art when it was built, but the art changed." The old U-6 wasn't built for the turbine engines. The new one is. David said it will handle the 4.3 gallons of fuel flow better to handle the acceleration.
"Straightaway speeds may not be all that different, but we'll make it up in the turns," he said. The new U-6 should hit the entry and exit pins faster. Faster acceleration through the turns should make for faster speeds overall.
The first time in the water will be the qualifying at Evansville. "I'm hoping the learning curve is very short," he said. "So we'll be able to run strong from the start." It helps there is a veteran driver behind the wheel and a veteran crew led by Crew Chief Mike Hanson. David says he's confident in the crew and that everything will works the way it's supposed to.
Even the best built and crewed boat has problems and needs adjustments to the driver, the river, and course set-ups. This will be no different with the new Miss Madison. "We're not going to be heroes," said David. "If I'm not comfortable with something, I'm not going to put it on the edge. But I'm comfortable we'll get there."
Evansville is a special place for Steve David. It's the first place he ran an Unlimited Hydroplane and the first place he ever drove for the Madison. And he says it's a great place to test out new gear. "It's a huge body of water and lends itself to learning," he said. "A great place to run a new boat as opposed to some of the tighter courses."
And he doesn't worry about being ready when it's time to go racing. "If I can get some good water time, and heats, we'll be ready for the finals," said David. "I think we should be ready to see everything it has by the finals."
Owner Larry Oberto has been the driving force behind the new boat financially. He said they are happy to be able to reward the team for the efforts over the years. "It's a great story," he said. "The city of Madison, the small town, the oldest owner in the sport. This is the re-do to carry on to future generations."
The re-do is a brand new boat with a change in the angle of attack on the sponsons, a different shaft angle, rudder placement and strut placements. It is similar to some of the innovations on other boats and borrows from the best of the U-16 Elam and the U-37.
"We want to see the sport stabilize," said Oberto. "The competitiveness and willingness of owners to modernize equipment, buy other boats and put them on the water (will help)."