Because of certain special requirements ABRA has requested from regular U-13 Driver Terry Troxell it was decided by team owner David Bartush and Crew Chief Curt Tavenner that it would be necessary to open the 2006 Season with former U-2 Driver J. Michael Kelly. We consider ourselves fortunate that J. Michael was available at this late date prior to the seasons opening race. He is one of the “young guns” in unlimited hydroplane racing and we feel fortunate that he has agreed to come on board with the U-13 team. Maybe lightning will strike twice since Terry agreed to drive the U-13 last season only 7 days before our first race.
While the team fully expects to have Terry back in the cockpit in the future it was apparent the time required to satisfy ABRA’s concerns regarding Terry’s medical condition would not allow him to start the 2006 season. Terry’s experience and knowledge will be utilized in working with J Michael and in addition, his wife Sue will take on additional duties assisting the team.
With only 13 days remaining until the first race of the 2006 season at Evansville, work continues at a feverish pace at the U-13 West Coast shop in Auburn, Washington. Crew Chief Curt Tavenner along with Terry Troxell, Mike Johnson and almost all of the U-13 crew members including a contingent of volunteers are getting close to finishing the rebuild of last years Gold Cup winning hull. The amount of work that has gone into this massive rebuild effort by all of these individuals in the few months since work started is truly unbelievable. The late start beginning work on the hull in January was primarily the result of having to procure and set up new shop facilities. In addition, all of the necessary equipment had to be acquired and installed. Most of all this was done by Curt himself.
For those that have stopped by the shop to see work in progress almost everyone has been surprised and somewhat skeptical that work can be finished for even a few races in 2006. However, almost everyone expects the end result will be a very fast and competitive hull. The boat will be considerably lighter and aerodynamically better. In addition, the latest safety features have been incorporated including replacing the canopy and roll cage. Other improvements include everything from instrumentation, wiring, steering and a full canard. Without a doubt a lot of unlimited hydroplane fans who have followed this historic boat since 1987 will be totally surprised by it’s new look.