In late 1960, industrialist Sam DuPont donated his NITROGEN hydroplane, an Allison-powered craft, to the City of Madison. The name was changed to MISS MADISON, Graham Heath of Madison became the crew chief of an all-volunteer crew, and Marion Cooper of Louisville, Kentucky, signed on as driver. The original MISS M took a fifth-place in its first race, the 1961 Detroit Memorial Regatta, and, later in the season, won a secondary race at the Seattle Seafair Regatta in Seattle, Washington.
A poverty budget and stock equipment not withstanding, MISS MADISON did herself proud in her second season as ‘The Floating Chamber of Commerce’ for the City of Madison. Driver Marion Cooper and crew chief Graham Heath took fourth-place in the Spirit Of Detroit Trophy and third in the hometown Indiana Governor’s Cup.
The first MISS MADISON ended her career where it had begun—-at Detroit. During trials for the 1963 Gold Cup Regatta, MISS M was completely destroyed and pilot Morlan Visel was seriously injured. The former NITROGEN TOO debuted as the second MISS MADISON at the 1963 Madison Regatta and took fifth-place with George ‘Buddy’ Byers as driver.
MISS MADISON had a big year and gave an extremely consistent performance. This allowed her to finish second in National High Points behind Ron Musson and the MISS BARDAHL. Buddy Byers steered MISS M to second-place in the Dixie Cup at Guntersville, Alabama, the Dakota Cup at New Town, North Dakota, and the President’s Cup at Washington, D.C.
After five years of trying, the MISS MADISON team achieved its first major victory. Driver Buddy Byers scored a come-from-behind win over Warner Gardner and MARINER TOO in the Dixie Cup on Guntersville Lake. Another highlight was a second-place in the San Diego Cup on Mission Bay.
Jim McCormick of Owensboro, Kentucky, made his Unlimited Class debut as driver of the community-owned entry, replacing Buddy Byers. The MISS MADISON team had a mediocre year at best. Their highest finishes were a third at the Tampa Suncoast Cup and a fourth at the Madison Regatta
Following a reduced schedule of races with Ed O’Halloran of Detroit, Michigan, as driver, MISS MADISON improved on its 1966 performance but was simply not the contender she had been under the helmsmanship of Buddy Byers. The highest finish in 1967 was a second place in the Suncoast Cup on Tampa Bay.
The season was a great year for boats like MISS BARDAHL, MISS EAGLE ELECTRIC, MISS U.S., MY GYPSY, and MISS BUDWEISER…but not for MISS MADISON, which had one of her worst seasons ever. In four races entered, the boat was simply not a factor and failed to qualify for a single Final.
The now experienced Jim McCormick returned to the MISS MADISON cockpit. But even with the change in drivers, the boat’s performance improved only slightly. A third at the hometown Madison Regatta was the team’s highest finish. Indeed, the glory days of 1964-65 seemed light years away.
A highway accident in Georgia while en route to the first race of the season in Tampa, Florida, delayed MISS MADISON’s debut. Repaired and rebuilt by original builder Les Staudacher, the boat showed a definite increase in speed. At year’s end, MISS M was running the best of her long career. She was ripe for a victory.
Precious little can be said of the fabulous campaign that hasn’t already been. MISS MADISON and driver Jim McCormick continued the favorable trend that began in late-1970 with back-to-back wins in the Gold Cup at Madison and the Atomic Cup at the Tri-Cities, Washington. They finished second to MISS BUDWEISER in National High Points.
A new boat (built by Gale Enterprises) and a new driver (Charlie Dunn) headlined the MISS MADISON team. A championship season was anticipated. But this was not to be. Dunn crashed during qualification for the Gold Cup at Detroit. For the first time since 1961, there was no MISS MADISON host boat at the Madison Regatta.
Following the mid-season resignation of Charlie Dunn, Tom Sheehy became driver of MISS MADISON. The team had, for the first time in its history, a commercial sponsor: Nestea Ice Tea. The boat’s performance in competition was mediocre with the highest finish being a fifth at the President’s Cup in Washington, D.C., with Dunn in the cockpit.
It was pretty much conceded that the Ron Jones, Sr.-designed PAY ‘n PAK and MISS BUDWEISER hulls were the state of the art in Unlimited racing. Still, MISS MADISON would not be denied. With rookie driver Milner Irvin—-a lastminute addition to the team–she was the best of the rest and finished a respectable third in National High Points.
The MISS MADISON team, frankly, did not improve on its 1974. Occupying the cockpit this year was Jerry Bangs, a trial lawyer by profession and a hydroplane racer by avocation. In ten races as the U-6 driver, Jerry nevertheless qualified for the all-important Final Heat six times and placed fifth in National High Points.
Ron Snyder of Piqua, Ohio, became driver of MISS MADISON and placed third in the Indiana Governor’s Cup. This led to his being named Rookie-of-the-Year by the Unlimited Racing Commission. Ron is the only driver to pilot three different MISS MADISON hulls in competition (between 1976 and 1988).
Madisonian Jon Peddie became the first local resident to pilot the community owned MISS MADISON. A veteran auto racer and body shop owner, Jon piloted MISS M to fourth-place in a field of 20 boats National High Point Standings and was honored as Unlimited Rookie-of-the Year.
MISS MADISON the fourth hull in the team’s history arrived. This was the former National Champion PAY ‘n PAK of 1973, which had won so many races with Rolls-Royce Merlin power. Refitted with an Allison engine, the ‘new’ MISS M finished second in the Gold Cup at Owensboro, Kentucky, with Jon Peddie driving and second in the Tri-Cities Columbia Cup with Milner Irvin.
After a promising 1978, Madisonians were expecting a lot from their boat. The season, however, proved a disappointment. Mechanical difficulties defied the efforts of pilot Milner Irvin. Following a sixth place finish at the Gold Cup in Madison, Ind. the U-6 team withdrew from competition to better prepare for 1980.
The MISS MADISON team rebounded with a solid season performance that effectively dimmed the memory of 1979. Milner Irvin steered MISS M to fourth place in a field of 23 boat in the National High Point Standings. With new sponsor DR. TOYOTA, the U-6 finished third in the UIM World Championship Race on Seattle’s Lake Washington.
One of MISS MADISON’s best seasons. For the third time in its history, the team finished second in National High Points. At the season finale in Acapulco, Mexico, driver Milner Irvin risked his own life when he spun MISS MADISON at high speed to avoid running over the fatally injured Bill Muncey, driver of ATLAS VAN LINES.
With the retirement of Milner Irvin, Tom Sheehy, the 1973 MISS MADISON driver, briefly returned to the U-6 cockpit but was replaced at Detroit by 1976 driver Ron Snyder. Ron took runner-up honors at the Indiana Governor’s Cup in Madison and third at the two Washington state races in the Tri-Cities and Seattle.
The old-style rear-cockpit/forward-engine hulls were pretty much obsolete. Cabover hulls were all the rage. Sponsor Rich Plan Food Service and Frank Kenny Toyota/ Volvo—-the former 1973 PAY ‘n PAK—still had one win left in her. Ron Snyder drove her to an upset victory over ATLAS VAN LINES and MISS BUDWEISER in the Missouri Governor’s Cup at Lake-of the Ozarks.
The MISS MADISON team picked up an important new sponsor in 1984, American Speedy Printing Centers. Unlike in 1983, this one was for the entire season. Ron Snyder piloted the U-6 to second-place at Syracuse and Houston and third-place at Miami.
Ron Snyder took a year off from driving for the MISS MADISON team in 1985. He was replaced by C. Andy Coker, a veteran 5-Litre Class Inboard competitor. As the 12th MISS MADISON driver, Coker won Unlimited Rookie-of-the-Year honors and finished second in the races at Miami and Syracuse.
A mixed blessing for the MISS MADISON, sponsored this year by Holset Engineering, which provided turbochargers for the Allison engines. The U-6 finished fourth in National High Points, but driver Ron Snyder was injured at the race in Evansville, Ind. Jerry Hopp and Andy Coker filled in while Ron recuperated.
In her last full season of competition as the fourth MISS MADISON, the 1978 MISS M took third in 1987 National High Points with Ron Snyder driving. This included a third-place in the Indiana Governor’s Cup. At the last race of the season in Las Vegas, the name was changed to HOLSET MRS. MADISON in anticipation of a new boat in 1988.
Three different boats raced as HOLSET MISS MADISON (U-6) this season. The new Ron Jones, Sr.-designed hull wasn’t ready to start the season. So the 1978 hull was recalled from mothballs. The new hull debuted at the Tri-Cities but flipped at San Diego. The third boat was a rental, borrowed from the Ed Cooper team, to fulfill a sponsorship agreement.
Mike Hanson, who had replaced Ron Snyder for one race as MISS MADISON driver in 1988, became the full-time pilot of MISS M in 1989. Hanson would retain that position for ten years. He guided the U-6 to third-place in 1989 National High Points and finished second behind MISS CIRCUS CIRCUS pilot Chip Hanauer in Driver Points.
The 1990 season would be the last for the MISS MADISON team with Allison power. Turbine engines were clearly the future of the sport. In its 30th and final year as a ‘piston-packer’, The U-6 placed sixth in National High Points and finished second in the races at the Tri-Cities and Kansas City.
Re-powered with a Lycoming jet turbine engine, MISS MADISON became more competitive and was capable of heats in the 130 mile an hour—-rather than the 120 mile an hour—-speed range. Sponsored by Valvoline Motor Oil, the U-6 placed fifth in National High Points and finished second in the Indiana Governor’s Cup.
MISS MADISON—-like an oft-married woman—-carried yet another name into competition: KELLOGG’S TONY THE TIGER. This was a continuation of a sponsorship agreement that had its origin at a couple of West Coast races in 1991. Mike Hanson guided the breakfast cereal team to fourth-place in National High Points.
The Kellogg’s-sponsored U-6 team won its first race in ten years —-the Star Mart Cup at San Diego with Mike Hanson driving. Moreover, the MISS MADISON scored more National High Points that year than any other boat but was officially second to the MISS BUDWEISER team, which used two different hulls during the season.
The MISS MADISON found itself without a sponsor at the outset and had to miss the first few races of the season. Not wishing to see the demise of a 33-year competitive tradition, POWERBALL Lottery stepped up to the plate and sponsored the U-6 for the Madison Regatta, where it placed fifth.
MISS MADISON had two major sponsors: JASPER ENGINES & TRANSMISSIONS in the East and DeWALT TOOLS in the West. The boat blew over on the wind-swept Detroit River and suffered considerable damage. Driver Mike Hanson escaped serious injury. But, in subsequent races, MISS M wasn’t quite the same and failed to finish in the top-three.
With DeWALT TOOLS signing up for a full season sponsorship in 1996, the MISS MADISON team improved considerably in comparison to 1995. With Mike Hanson driving, they finished fourth in National High Points and finished in the top-three at four events. This included a second-place at Kelowna, British Columbia.
MISS MADISON’s perennial rival MISS BUDWEISER was really on a roll. Indeed, Bernie Little’s ‘Beer Wagon’ garnered most of the glory as it quite often did in those days. MISS M nevertheless hung in there and made her presence felt. Mike Hanson qualified her for—-and finished- -the Final Heat at all nine of the races entered.
Bad financial times returned for the MISS MADISON. Following the departure of DeWALT TOOLS as team sponsor, operating funds were lacking. The team nevertheless entered the 1998 Madison Regatta. Mike Hanson, in his final appearance as MISS MADISON driver, steered the craft to an overall third-place in the Indiana Governor’s Cup.
Sponsorship was still lacking for the MISS MADISON, but the team nevertheless made it to a few more races than in 1998. Hanover, Indiana resident Todd Yarling replaced Mike Hanson as U-6 pilot. Todd flipped the boat in a race at Barrie, Ontario, but rebounded to take third-place at Norfolk, Virginia.
Charley Wiggins, a promising rookie, started the 2000 season as MISS MADISON driver but retired after a couple of injury accidents at Evansville and Detroit. Nate Brown finished the season. Under the sponsorship of OH BOY! OBERTO, Brown placed third, fourth, and third at the Tri-Cities, Seattle, and San Diego races.
The big news was Bob Hughes, President of Miss Madison, Inc., talked retired driver Steve David out of retirement. David’s drove the U-6 OH BOY! OBERTO to a win in the Indiana Governor’s Cup.
The 1988 vintage U-6 OH BOY! OBERTO, now in its fifteenth season, was starting to show its age. The U-6 finished sixth in National High Points with Steve David driving. Highlights included a third in the Columbia Cup and a fourth in the Gold Cup.
OH BOY! OBERTO experienced mechanical difficulties throughout 2003. They did achieve a moral victory at Seattle. The MISS BUDWEISER team came to Miss M’s rescue when she suffered hull damage in a test run. Using the MISS BUDWEISER shop, the Oberto crew worked feverishly to effect repairs and ended up taking third-place in the Seattle race.
Mike Hanson made a triumphant return to the Miss Madison Racing team in 2004. Now retired as a driver, Hanson made the transition to crew chief with ease. Hanson breathed new life into the aging U-6 OH BOY! OBERTO, which finished third in National High Points and took second-place at both the Gold Cup and the Columbia Cup.
Steve David scored his second victory as driver of the U-6 OH BOY! OBERTO with a first-place at ‘Thunder On The Ohio’ in Evansville, Indiana. At season’s end, MISS M was second in 2005 National High Points and David was first in driver points. This was the first Driver National Championship in the 45-year history of the U-6 team.
U-6 OH BOY! OBERTO suffered hull damage at the first two races of the season at Evansville and Madison but rebounded to take second-place at Valleyfield and Seattle, and third-place at Detroit, the Tri-Cities, and San Diego. Steve David was once again National Driver Champion. A new boat was now in the planning stages for the following year in a unique agreement between team and sponsor Larry Oberto.
The first new MISS MADISON since 1988 made its debut, sponsored by OH BOY! OBERTO. An instant contender, the boat finished second in National High Points. Driver Steve David scored back-to-back victories in the Chevrolet Cup at Seattle and the Bill Muncey Cup at San Diego.
After 48 years, it finally happened! U- 6 OH BOY! OBERTO was National High Point Champion in the Unlimited Class! It was also a first title for the sponsor, Oberto Sausage Company. Driver Steve David started in 21 heats of competition, finished first in 10 of them, was second eight times, third once, fourth twice, and won the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup. The U-6 OH BOY! OBERTO achieved a long sought goal in winning the National High Point Championship with Steve David driving. This entitles the U-6 to wear the coveted U-1 label in 2009.
Another National Championship awaited in 2009, but it was earned with one of most amazing finishes ever. At the UIM World Championship in Doha, Qatar, Steve David in the OH BOY! OBERTO only had to finish ahead of Dave Villwock in the U-16 ELAM PLUS for the Championship. While leading Heat 4A, he did a complete 360 degree flip, landing and continuing to the pits with major damage. It looked like the title would end up with Villwock. Mike Hanson and crew rebuilt the shattered U-1 for the Final Heat. In the last turn of the last lap, the U-1 was able to pass the ELAM PLUS for the season crown!
2010: 2010 was the year of the 3-peat when the OH BOY! OBERTO team captured another National Championship.
2011: The hopes for a 4th consecutive National Championship were dashed during the final heat of the season opening Madison Regatta Indiana Governor’s Cup. Steve David in the U-1 OH BOY! OBERTO was involved in a collision with Dave Villwock in the U-96 SPIRIT OF QATAR. The U-96 was disqualified and U-1 declared the race winner. U-1 sustained serious damage and Steve David was injured. Both Steve and the primary boat missed the next race in Detroit returning to action in Tri-Cities, WA. The OH BOY! OBERTO captured it’s 2nd straight win in Seattle on the way to a 4th place finish in National High Points.
2012: The OH BOY! OBERTO collected race victories in Seattle and San Diego on the way to wrapping up the season High Points Championship as well as a Driver High Points title for Steve David in January, 2013 at the 2012 season ending Oryx Cup/UIM World Championship in Doha, Qatar. The boat will wear the U-1 again for the 2013 season.
2013: The OH BOY! OBERTO was top qualifier at 6 of 7 races this season and scored victories at Big Wake Weekend in Sacramento, CA and the Lamb-Weston Columbia Cup at Tri-Cities, WA. The team finished second in National High Points, just 68 points behind first place. The end of the season in San Diego also marks the end of an era for the team. Steve David announced his retirement culminating a successful 13 year run as the MISS MADISON’S longest continuous driver.
The community-owned Miss Madison Racing team is the oldest continuously active team in unlimited hydroplane history. The city has had a boat in competition ever year from 1961 to 2013 –a total of 53 seasons. By comparison, the late Bernie Little’s MISS BUDWEISER team started in 1963 and retired after 2004.