MADISON, Ind. – One of the most successful decades in the history of unlimited hydroplane racing will be celebrated this summer as Team Porter Racing carries the Graham Trucking banner through its 10th season.
The 2015 H1 Unlimited season – and Team Porter Racing’s 10th year – hits the starting line this weekend in Madison, Ind.
“Celebrating our tenth year in unlimited hydroplane racing is exciting,” said Owner Ted Porter. “With Graham Trucking as a sponsor since 2009, our team has had a lot of success, and we are looking for more of the same in 2015, even though we know the competition keeps getting deeper in the sport and this year is no exception with a number of teams that have the ability to win races.
“That only allows us to set our sites even higher than we have before, and to look forward to more success,” Porter said. “We truly have a great team and two outstanding drivers with some of the best equipment in the sport. It is definitely an exciting time.”
Porter started his team in 2006 when he purchased the best remaining equipment from Bernie Little’s Hydroplanes Inc. This meant Porter acquired the T-5 and T-6, the two newest former Miss Budweiser hydroplanes, as well as a number of turbine engines, gearboxes, haulers, tools and more.
He also recruited some of the most highly-respected talent in the sport to work on his crew, including two-time H1 Unlimited Crew Chief of the Year Tom Anderson, propeller specialists Randy Doughty and John Leschinski and deck specialists Jim Bakke and Brooke Tyler IV among others.
Team Porter Racing has also developed a number of the sport’s current top drivers. Current U-5 pilot J. Michael Kelly has five career wins (all for Porter) and is the sports third-most winning active driver. The top currently active driver, Jimmy Shane now in the U-1 Oberto, earned six of his eight career wins at the helm of Porter’s Graham Trucking. Scott Liddycoat, driver of the U-9 Les Schwab presents Team Red Dot also posted his only career win at the helm of a Porter-owned boat. Cal Phipps, currently driving the U-27, ran in all six finals in 2015 and finished on the podium three times, including second at San Diego. Jeff Bernard, most recently the driver of the U-17 Our Gang Racing, scored all three of his unlimited wins with Porter. Additionally, Mike Allen posted his only career unlimited win – and a national championship – in a Porter boat.
Since its inception, Team Porter Racing has been one of the top teams in the sport. With 16 race wins in his first nine seasons as an owner, Porter has seen more success than even the late, great Bernie Little who won 13 races in his first nine seasons. No other owner in the modern era of the sport has won 16 races in his or her first nine seasons.
Team Porter Racing has enjoyed much success as it enters its 10th season. The team’s success recently has also been unprecedented. Since 2012, with support from Graham Trucking, Team Porter Racing has won 11 races, which is more than any other team in the sport over the same span. In each of the last two seasons, Team Porter Racing has won four races on the H1 Unlimited Series, another accomplishment not met by any other team in the sport in recent years.
The team has also celebrated five UIM World Championship wins, two national championships and back-to-back championships in Seattle and San Diego (2013 and 2014), in its first nine years. Here’s a history the years leading up to Team Porter Racing’s 10th Anniversary season.
Despite a driver change during the offseason, and adding a second boat to the Team Porter Racing fleet, for the second consecutive season, the team won four races. Team Porter Racing opened the 2014 season by winning the Indiana Governor’s Cup in Madison, Ind., where J. Michael Kelly returned triumphantly, driving the U-1, and Cal Phipps began the year with a third place finish in the U-7. At the Gold Cup, the U-1 jumped the score-up buoy by a fraction of a second and despite finishing first on the water, suffered a one-lap penalty and did not place on the podium. That disappointment, however, was balanced by Phipps’ second-straight podium finish, when he took third in the U-7. Bigger disappointment hit in the Tri-Cities when the U-1 suffered major deck and frame damage during a heat on Saturday. The crew worked late into the night to repair the damage and had Kelly’s boat ready to run again on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, damage re-occurred in the first heat on Sunday morning and the team was forced to withdraw. The U-7 went on to win a heat, but did not podium in the final. Seattle turned the tide for the team, just as it had in 2013. Kelly drove a commanding final heat in the U-1 to take his second win of the season. In San Diego, a win streak was born, as Kelly won again, with Phipps in the U-7 finishing second. The team won again in Doha when Kelly completed a perfect weekend at the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship, winning all of his heats and the final, marking Team Porter Racing’s fifth (of six) Oryx Cup wins, and the team’s fourth straight.
Thirteen may have been the lucky number as 2013 was quite possibly the best season in the history of the U-5 Racing Team. The season started with a third consecutive Oryx Cup UIM World Championship for Team Porter, when Jimmy Shane won the final heat on Qatar’s National Sports Day (Tuesday, Feb. 12) in Doha. The team then went on to win three consecutive races — Seattle, Coeur d’Alene and San Diego — to close out the season and claim the H1 Unlimited High Points National Championship. It was the second national title in the history of Team Porter and was quite possibly the closest championship points race in the history of the sport. Our team won the title by a mere 68 points over the second place boat. Team Porter Racing also earned podium finishes at Sacramento (second place) and at Tri-Cities (second), so the team had six podium finishes in seven races, including four victories.
Running just one boat in 2012, the U-5 Racing Team proved they were still a force to be reckoned with. Driver Jimmy Shane, running his first full season in an unlimited, posted four podium finishes, taking his first career win at the Columbia Cup in Tri-Cities, followed by second place finishes at Seattle and San Diego. Shane capped off the 2012 season by winning the UIM World Championship in Doha, Qatar, and finishing second in the National High Points standings.
Change was the word as the 2011 season began. Rookie driver Scott Liddycoat took over the cockpit of the U-7. Team Porter Racing launched the New Driver Development Program with N. Mark Evans mentoring rookie Bianca Bononcini in the U-57 Formula Boats. Graham Trucking shifted sponsorship to the U-5 and pilot Jeff Bernard while new sponsor Valken Sports joined the U-7 crew. The season featured good, close racing heats – some between teammates and was highlighted by the UIM World Championship victory for the U-7, a second place for U-5 and fourth for U-57 in Doha, Qatar.
In 2010, the season high points standings were reversed over 2009 for Team Porter, with J. Michael Kelly driving the U-7 Graham Trucking to a third place finish and Jeff Bernard skippering the U-5 Formula Boats to a fourth place finish. It was this season, as well, that the team stepped up to add the U-57 Formula Boats into the fleet, with N. Mark Evans taking over as skipper when the boats arrived in Tri-Cities. Jimmy Shane continued as the team’s backup driver during the season, and served on the crew.
Ted Porter’s first of five world championships came in Doha, Qatar when J. Michael Kelly drove the U-7 Graham Trucking to a first place finish in the final of the inaugural Oryx Cup. Team Porter also won the 2009 Evansville Thunder on the Ohio when Jeff Bernard piloted the U-5 Formula Boats to first place in the final event run in Evansville. The team finished third (U-5, Bernard) and fourth (U-7, Kelly) in the National High Points standings in 2009.
The team’s third full season with the former Miss Budweiser equipment was a very good year. Jeff Bernard piloted the U-5 Formula Boats I to wins at the Madison Regatta and the San Diego Bayfair Cup, and finished second in the National High Points standings, just 678 points behind the Oh Boy! Oberto, which won the season championship for the first time. Mike Allen drove the U-7 Formula Boats II to fifth in the points standings.
The defense of the national championship was quickly sidetracked by accidents, injuries and equipment damage. Both the U-1 and U-5 sustained damage in accidents in Evansville, Ind. U-1 was involved in a second accident in Detroit and driver Mike Allen sustained an injury that sidelined him for two races. Jimmy Shane joined the team in relief of Mike Allen in the U-1 backup hull in Tri-Cities and Seattle. Mike returned in the rebuilt U-1 primary hull for the San Diego race. Jeff Bernard’s season-ending final heat against Steve David in Oh Boy! Oberto was described by many as the best final heat in many years raising expectations for 2008. U-5 completed the season fourth in National High Points while the U-1 finished 10th.
Ted Porter formed the Precision Performance Engineering, LLC (later to be known as Team Porter Racing) team with the purchase of former Miss Budweiser hulls (T5 & T6) forming a two-boat team sponsored by Formula Boats, of Decatur, Ind. Mike Weber served as team manager and U-5 driver before surrendering driving duties to Jeff Bernard for Seattle and San Diego. U-7 driven by unlimited rookie Mike Allen, won at Valleyfield, Quebec and consistent performances throughout the year afforded the U-7 team the national championship and the U-1 designation for 2007. The U-5 completed the season in 6th place in National High Points.
“So far, it has been an awesome ride,” Porter said. “We look forward to another decade of great racing.”