Steve David crashed into the spun-out boat of rival Dave Villwock during the final of the Air National Guard Series at the Madison Regatta and was declared the winner after lengthy deliberations by race officials.
Villwock was chasing the record to become the sport’s all-time winningest driver when he spun out three laps in the final and came to a stop. David couldn’t avoid Villwock and crashed into the boat, sending a spray of water and fiberglass into the air. Neither driver was injured in the accident.
“It’s a heck of way to win a boat race,” David said after being released from the hospital. “Without the safety advances in the sport and top-notch inspectors, neither Dave (Villwock) and I would be here to talk about the accident.”
David, the defending Lucas Oil Madison Regatta champion, was trailing Villwock’s Spirit of Qatar at the time of the collision in Turn 3. Judges ruled that because Villwock spun out, he was disqualified. Since David was then the leader when the race was stopped because of the accident, he was declared the winner. Kip Brown finished second and Scott Liddycoat placed third.
Villwock, who is tied with the great Bill Muncey at 62 career wins, said he hit a patch of rough water that caused the incident. The Oh Boy! Oberto was running was 100 mph at the time of the crash, narrowly missing the driver’s capsule.
“I know I got kind of small in the cockpit when the boat came around,” said Villwock, anticipating a possible collision. “Unfortunately, we both came out wrecked, kind of like the last lap at Talladega or Daytona.”
David’s victory came as the Miss Madison team was celebrating its 50th anniversary of racing. The boat is owned by the citizens of Madison, Ind., and has won three consecutive high points national championships.
Brown earned his first two unlimited hydroplane heat victories over the weekend and took second place in the finals. The driver in the Miss Red Dot was making a serious push at winning his first unlimited hydroplane race.
“It was obviously a tough weekend of racing,” Brown said. “I was running really strong in the final. You hate to see an accident like Steve (David’s) and Dave (Villwock’s) end the race like that. But I’m glad those guys are fine and will be racing again.”
Earlier in the day, Brown, David and Villwock won their respective heats, setting up the showdown in the final. The next three heats cancelled because of a collision involving an unlimited hydroplane and a rescue boat on the course.
With the APBA Gold Cup set for next weekend in Detroit, the two teams with damaged boats will be working feverishly to get them repair. Villwock expects his boat to be repaired but the Oh Boy! Oberto may have to rent a backup boat to compete in the Gold Cup, which is considered unlimited hydroplane’s most prestigious race.
“We’ll work hard to get there one way or another,” David said.