Oberto-Miss Madison Team
Shane returns to defend his
National High Points title
He hopes to win in Madison after
jumping the gun last year
(July 2015) – Coming off one of the best years ever, the Oberto-Miss Madison Unlimited hydroplane race team enters the 2015 season ready to defend its National High Points title and add to its growing list of victories.
Photo by Don Ward
From left, Tyler and his father, Larry Hanson, have teamed up to overhaul the Oberto-Miss Madison Unlimited hydroplane at the Madison, Ind., boat shop to get her ready for the 2015 campaign. Larry is entering his second season as the team’s crew chief.
Second-year driver Jimmy Shane returns to the cockpit, where he shined last year after stepping into the role after longtime driver Steve David retired. Shane got busy right away by winning all three preliminary heats at the season opening Madison Regatta.
But he jumped the gun on the final heat, resulting in a one-lap penalty that stole his would-be victory. Shane was not told of the infraction until late in the race, so he continued charging on and crossed the finish line first. But the victory instead went to J. Michael Kelley in the Graham Trucking boat.
Shane continued his hot streak in Detroit, winning the coveted Gold Cup for Madison for the first time since legendary Jim McCormick did it in 1971, as portrayed a decade ago in the movie “Madison.”
“It was an honor to bring home a Gold Cup for the city of Madison,” said Shane, 29, in a June 24 telephone interview from his Seattle area home. “It was only my third Gold Cup race, but it has been 43 years since the Madison team had won it.”
Shane won again last season at the Columbia Cup in Tri-Cities, Wash., then finished third in Seattle and second in the season-ending Oryx Cup in Doha, Qatar. His combined point total of 9,157 gave him a comfortable victory over second-place finisher Kelly, who earned 8,736 with four victories of his own. He also was the top qualifier at all six race sites last year – quite a feat for any driver, much less for one in his first year with a new team.
Kelly will likely return as Shane’s biggest threat in 2015, but the Madison race team says it will be ready. The boat has been repaired and the steering and controls improved by second-year crew chief Larry Hanson, according to Shane.
Photo courtesy of Bob Cline
Jimmy Shane spent time at the Madison boat shop in May.
“It was a bit of a surprise when Larry became crew chief when (his brother) Mike left so abruptly, but Larry has proved to be one of the best crew chiefs on the circuit after last year,” Shane said. “He put his blood, sweat and tears into getting the boat ready to race last year, and it paid off.”
Mike Hanson had not only driven the Madison boat but served as crew chief since 1988 when he surprised everyone in March 2014 when he accepted the same role for the Erik Ellstrom-owned U-96 boat based in Seattle. Larry stepped into the role as crew chief for Madison.
“Mike had just taken the boat apart, and it was in pieces because we were getting ready to paint it,” said Mike Hanson, 51. “So we had to not only get it painted but put it all back together without him.”
But the team persevered and proved to be worthy mechanics, considering the season outcome. Hanson said the salt water was hard on the boat in Doha, and the fact is was several weeks before the boat could be transported back to the Madison shop to be cleaned. He has literally cleaned every part on it, he said. In addition to the regular crew members, Hanson has been helped in the offseason by his 20-year-old son, Tyler. “He’s been my right hand man,” Hanson said.
“That boat has been driven hard the past eight years and been through a lot of stress and strain. But Larry and the crew have worked hard in the offseason to repair it and improve it,” Shane said. “It should be in better shape now than it has been in years.”
Shane traveled to Madison in mid-May to help out a bit in the boat shop. “I wanted to support the team and get my hands dirty and show that I am not one of those drivers who just shows up to drive the boat on weekends,” Shane said. “I had a wonderful visit to Madison, and I look forward to getting back there soon.”
Shane plans to bring former Unlimited driver Jeff Bernard with him to Madison to operate the radio during the races. Hanson said he is fine with that, adding that having a former driver on the radio with Shane may be a plus. Bernard last competed in the Unlimited class in 2011, driving for Ted Porter’s Formulaboats. He notched his first Unlimited victory at Madison in 2008.
He plans to arrive Thursday, July 2, and head straight to the boat shop, then take part in the Regatta party that night at the Boneyard Grill with other Unlimited drivers.
Shane admitted he felt some pressure last year at this time when he was suiting up to drive the community-owned Oberto-Miss Madison for the first time because of the expectations of hometown fans. “It was an honor to be the Madison driver because the team and the town have a lot of say when it comes to their own race boat. There is no other team on the circuit with that kind of community support.”
Shane says the team has set it goals in 2015 to defend its National High Points title and hopefully win the Indiana Governor’s Cup trophy for Madison on its own course. He will get that opportunity July 3-5 at the Madison Regatta.
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