Graham Trucking takes two spots on Madison podium – again!

J. Michael Kelly finds rough water in turn two at Madison, Ind., during one of the heats. His crew repaired damage just in time for the final heat, which Kelly won. (Photo courtesy Julie Ann Sparrowgrove)

MADISON, Ind. – The 5 Graham Trucking unlimited hydroplane team wasn’t about to let a major repair stand in the way of repeating as the Indiana Governor’s Cup champion.

Under the gun for time, the team made repairs to the front canard wing and got the boat in the water just moments before the five-minute gun, which is when boats head to the water to prepare for the start.

“It was close, but we have one of the most professional teams in the sport, and I knew if it could be fixed in time, it would be,” said team owner Ted Porter. “To experience that and then win the race so convincingly was awesome.”

When all was said and done, J. Michael Kelly (35, Bonney Lake, Wash.) piloted the 5 Graham Trucking to his second consecutive Indiana Governor’s Cup at the Madison Regatta victory. Kelly averaged 141.818 to take the title and ran a 144.701 on the first lap to secure the position. Teammate Jesse Robertson finished third in the 7 Graham Trucking, earning the first podium finish of his young career. It was Robertson’s first race with Team Porter Racing.

“We were lucky just to make the final heat,” said Kelly, who won his sixth overall race on the national circuit. “We broke the front canard of the boat in the final preliminary heat and the team worked hard to get it back together.

“I don’t know how they did it, but it held together, and we were able to get the win.”

All six of Kelly’s wins have been with Team Porter Racing, tying him as the team’s winningest driver. It also kicked off Team Porter Racing’s 10th anniversary season just the way it was hoped. It was Porter’s 17th career win as an owner, tying him with Fred Leland for the 10th most wins by an owner in the sport’s history.

Graham Trucking drivers Jesse Robertson (left) and J. Michael Kelly (center) collect trophies for first and third in the Indiana Governor's Cup at the Madison Regatta in Madison, Ind. (H1 Unlimited photo)
Graham Trucking drivers Jesse Robertson (left) and J. Michael Kelly (center) collect trophies for first and third in the Indiana Governor’s Cup at the Madison Regatta in Madison, Ind. (H1 Unlimited photo)

While sponsor Graham Trucking is based in Seattle, Team Porter Racing is one of two H1 Unlimited teams based in the state of Indiana – from Decatur, Ind. – Porter says this win is always special to him.

“To start our 10th season with a win in the Indiana Governor’s Cup is just awesome,” Porter said. “This race site is sort of our ‘home course’, too. Winning here is always important to us. We love this race site.”

Kelly and the Graham Trucking team have now won four consecutive races, dating back to last season.

With the waters of the Ohio River flooding all week, the Madison Regatta was shortened to just one day, and only five of the 11 boats in town competed due to concerns over debris in the water, and limited pit space. No national high points were awarded for the Madison Regatta, but the race win and any records set during the event are official. Heat racing was run in shootout style, with just two boats running each heat and a trailer boat – rookie Patrick Sankauer aboard the Miss DiJulio – in one of the two heats.

Prior to the final, Robertson finished second in both of his heats, but made it known that he would not back down from either Shane or from Tom Thompson in the 11 Miss Peters & May. Kelly won his first heat, outlasting Sankauer after Thompson was unable to start. In heat 2B, Kelly finished a close second to the Oberto. In that heat, Kelly led all the way until the exit of the final turn. The canard was broken when Kelly hit a hard roller exiting turn two earlier in the heat. Kelly said he finished the heat with the canard in “full lift” position, which didn’t help him keep his speed up down the final stretch.

“We pushed it as hard was we could,” Kelly said. “But it was a really great race for the fans, and we’re happy for that.”

Four boats were scheduled to start the final, but the 11 Miss Peters & May hit debris before the start and returned to the pits, leaving just three running boats.

The H1 Unlimited series moves on next to Kennewick, Wash., for the 50th Anniversary of the Tri-Cities Water Follies, which this year stages the 99th running of the APBA Gold Cup, July 24-26. The Gold Cup is the oldest trophy in all of motorsports racing, and is boat racing’s equivalent of the Indianapolis 500.

ABOUT TEAM PORTER RACING

Over the last four seasons, Team Porter Racing has won 12 races, which is more than any other team in the sport over that same span. Team Porter Racing has also won five of the last six – and four in a row –the UIM World Championships.

In each of the last two years, Team Porter Racing has won four races on the H1 Unlimited Series. Since joining the H1 Unlimited series in 2006, Team Porter Racing has won a total of 17 races, placing Porter among the most successful owners in the sport’s history.

Graham Trucking is the second-longest-running current sponsor in unlimited hydroplane racing, dating back to the first boat they sponsored in 1988.

More information about the team can be found at www.u1racing.com, or on Facebook and Twitter (@U5Racing).

– Team Porter Racing –