Dave Villwock and U-1 Spirit of Qatar 96 return to Washington waters
By SHAWN SKAGER
Auburn Reporter Sports Reporter
July 25, 2012 · Updated 4:10 PM
It’s just two races into the Air National Guard H1 Unlimited Hydroplane series and things are looking good for U-1 Spirit of Qatar 96 driver Dave Villwock.
“So far so good,” said Villwock, a former Auburn resident. “We’re ahead in the points, so that’s pretty good.”
Villwock leads Steve David and the Kent-based U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, 3,650 to 3,185, in the high points race.
In this season’s first two races – the Indiana Governor’s Cup in Madison and the Gold Cup in Detroit – Villwock notched wins, bringing his all-time victory count to 67, the best in the sport.
Now it’s time for Villwock to prepare for the Lamb-Weston Columbia Cup this weekend in the Tri-Cities, and the Seafair Albert Lee Cup Aug. 3-5 on Lake Washington.
“Seafair has the most attention, media wise,” he said. “It’s rough and demanding. And I’ve won it an awful lot. But my favorites are places like San Diego and the Tri-Cities. The water is calmer, and I don’t get beat up as much. Sometimes I feel a lot like a linebacker — you know you’re going to get hit, you just don’t know when.”
After Seafair, the H1 series wraps up stateside with an exhibition race on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho and the Bayfair in San Diego, both new stops on the circuit this year.
“It’s growing again,” Villwock said. “The competition is strong, it’s always been strong, but having the Air National Guard sponsoring and the television doesn’t hurt.”
This season the Versus Network is televising every stop on the circuit.
The success marks a resurgence for the sport of hydroplane racing, which was struggling only a couple years ago.
Villwock credits international interest in the sport for much of that.
“We’ve got China interested now,” he said. “They want to do a race there next year.”
The H1 boats already have a presence overseas with the Oryx Cup World Championships, which wraps up the season on Nov. 8-10 in Doha, Qatar.
For more information on the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane series, visit their Web site at www.h1unlimited.com
Contact Auburn Reporter Sports Reporter Shawn Skager at firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 833-0218, ext. 5054.