Tri-Cities: Round five preview

Columbia River Course Fits Villwock Just Fine KENNEWICK, Wash.-- For the first time in the 2008 ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane season, the national high point championship team from one year ago will return to the circuit this weekend for the Lamb...

Columbia River Course Fits Villwock Just Fine

KENNEWICK, Wash.-- For the first time in the 2008 ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane season, the national high point championship team from one year ago will return to the circuit this weekend for the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup (July 25-27).

Dave Villwock (Seattle, Wash.), the winningest active driver in all of unlimited racing, returns with his U-1 National High Point Championship Miss Ellstrom Elam Plus team.

Villwock, winner of 55 unlimited races, probably couldn't find a better spot to make his return.

"The Columbia River is the super speedway course and it pays dividends to the driver who is more precise," said Villwock. "Many of the other courses become more a battle for survival but this course rewards the driver."

The Ellstrom Racing Team did not make the Eastern Swing this year since they will be going to Dubai late this year for exhibition runs.

A fleet of 14 boats are expected to race on the 2 ½ mile Columbia River course.

The teams are ready for a full weekend of racing after the previous two races in Madison, Ind. and Detroit had to be cut short due to weather issues.

In Madison, heavy rains up river in northern Kentucky caused the Ohio River to rise approximately four feet, grabbing debris from the shore. The result was one set of elimination heats had to be cut from the Indiana Governor's Cup to get the final run. Jeff Bernard (Kent, Wash.) won the battle of attrition, winning his first unlimited race in his career in the U-5 Formulaboats.com.

One week later in Detroit, high winds forced officials to call the 100th running of the Chrysler-Jeep Detroit APBA Gold Cup a 'No Contest.' --the first time since 1960 at Lake Mead, Nevada that the Gold Cup race had to be declared a 'No Contest.'

In the only other race this season, Jean Theoret (Montreal, Que.) won the Thunder on the Ohio in Evansville in Miss Beacon Plumbing.

For more ticket and event information on this weekend's Lamb Weston Columbia Cup, go to www.waterfollies.com.

FORMULABOATS.COM BRINGING TWO BOATS WEST: While Ted Porter doesn't expect the U-7 hull to be ready until the season finale; the team will have two boats in Tri-Cities and Seattle. Jimmy Shane, who was the back up driver for Mike Allen last year, will drive the back-up hull for the U-7 Formulaboats.com. Allen suffered an accident two weeks ago during the elimination heat 3 A Sunday morning on the treacherous and windy Detroit River. Allen was back in the pits before the end of the day while the boat was taken immediately to Seattle for repairs.

"Mike is doing well but I think he's kicking back this week and relaxing," said Porter. "He didn't even answer his cell phone, so I'm sure he's just kicking back."

The Porter's bought the 2004 Gold Cup Championship hull from Kim Gregory during the off-season and will use the boat this weekend. "There is still a lot of work" to be done on the boat according to Porter.

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? Kip Brown (Preston, Wash.) will be in the driver's seat of the U-17 Our Gang Racing. Brown, who has been racing since 1995, is the nephew of retired unlimited driver Nate Brown. Nate will be crewing for the U-17.

Kip has raced in the Pro and Super Stock categories along with driving a 5-Litre Limited hydro. He won the coveted Pro-Stock and E Racing Runabout APBA National High Point Championships.

This will be Kip's first unlimited race as a driver.

"Kip is one good shoe who will undoubtedly be important to Our Gang Racing as both a driver and leader," said Nate.

Our Gang Racing is hoping a sponsorship for Tri-Cities and Seattle will be secured this week.

SPIRIT OF MISS ALBERT LEE? Steve Lamson is working overtime helping the unlimited teams secure sponsors in the great northwest. The U-50 will have a new sponsor for Tri-Cities and Seattle. The boat will race as Miss Albert Lee. He also helped the U-3, U-10, U-25, U-48 and U-50 with sponsorship dollars. And is he is working with the U-17 while also helping out the U-1 Ellstrom Elam Plus and the U-100 Mirageboats.com team.

OWNER ON THE MEND: Ellstrom Elam Plus owner Erick Ellstrom could be on crutches this weekend for the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup. No, it wasn't a racing accident; Erick injured himself while coaching his son's soccer team last week. Dave Villwock pointed out quickly that this was freak injury. "Don't forget, Erick was a pretty good hockey player," said the Elam driver.

-credit: abra

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Series Boat
Drivers Mike Allen