The Ellstrom family–consisting of father Sven, sons Erick and Tom, and daughter Lisa–made its debut on the Unlimited racing scene as the sponsor of an experimental four-point hydroplane, owned by Glen Davis, in 1994.
The next year, the family built a boat of its own and, under the leadership of crew chief Erick Ellstrom, the U-16 has racked up 23 victories since 2000 and won the National High Point Team Championship in 2005 and 2007.
The team’s first race victory came in the 2000 Columbia Cup at Tri-Cities, Washington with Mark Evans driving. In 2001, the Ellstroms’ current hull made its debut and quickly showed its speed. Nate Brown piloted the new orange rocket to victories in the last two events of the season at Seattle and San Diego. Brown would win 2 more races in 2002.
After a winless 2003, Terry Troxell brought home the trophy at a wind-shortened event in St. Clair, Michigan during the 2004 season.
JW Myers won the 2005 Indiana Governor’s Cup before flipping the boat during qualifying in Detroit. Dave Villwock took over driving duties for the rest of the 2005 season, collecting victories at Tri-Cities and San Diego and scoring enough points to win the first National High Point Championship for Ellstrom Racing.
Despite a trio of first-place finishes in 2006, MISS E-LAM PLUS was unable to defend her High Points crown. However, with legendary driver Dave Villwock behind the wheel, the Ellstroms were determined to reclaim their spot atop the leaderboard in 2007. And they did.
The Ellstroms followed a reduced schedule in 2008 and only appeared at two races but still took first-place at their hometown Chevrolet Cup on Seattle’s Lake Washington.
In 2010, racing as the U-96 Spirit of Qatar, the team scored victories in the APBA Gold Cup in Detroit, the Air Guard Championship in San Diego and the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship in Doha, Qatar on the way to strong second place finish in 2010 Season High Points.
The 2011 season produced another Series Championship with victories in the Detroit APBA Gold Cup as well as the Tri-Cities and a win before the sponsoring country’s home fans in the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship in Doha, Qatar.
The 2012 season had a disappointing finish as Villwock and the team arrived in Doha in a close race with the Oberto team but suffered a series of setbacks that dropped the team all the way to third place in the final standings for the season.
Damage to the boat put it on the beach for 2013, and the Ellstrom team began construction on a new 96 Spirit of Qatar which made its debut in 2014.
In 2015, Jean Theoret took the cockpit and gave the Ellstrom team the top qualifying position in three of the national events. In heat 2-A of the Spirit of Detroit UAW-GM Hydrofest, Theoret crashed the boat in the Belle Ilse Bridge turn sending it to dry dock for the remainder of the season.