In 25 years of Unlimited hydroplane racing - the last 13 as driver of Miss Madison Racing's Oh Boy! Oberto - Steve David has accomplished so much.

In the cockpit he has allowed a team that was sometimes an also-ran to evolve into a winner and then a champion. He's won races, claimed season championships and garnered respect for not only himself but Miss Madison Racing, his sponsor the Oberto Sausage Company of Seattle and his boat owner the citizens of Madison.

But more importantly, Steve David has won our hearts. And it is that which saddens us to learn that at age 59 the boy from Chillicothe, Ohio, and man from Lighthouse Point, Fla., has announced his retirement as driver of our hometown Miss Madison.

As our driver, David became one of us not just in name but also spirit. Miss Madison Racing has a long history of competent and dedicated drivers but few have embraced our town - or been embraced by it - to the extent of David.

For a person who spent just a handful of days per year in Madison, somehow David became our neighbor - a person we took great pride in and were blessed to have as our ambassador to boat racing and the world.

How is this so? Because for David, Miss Madison Racing has always been more than just a boat ride and a chance to compete. In many ways Miss Madison Racing defines Madison - hard work and competent but with humility and confidence - and David quite simply gets that on a level unlike any driver we've ever known.

Steve David has - and always will be - more than just a boat racer to us. Amazingly, other communities where David has competed in on our behalf feel the same way. We've witnessed it time after time from Madison to Evansville to Detroit to Seattle to San Diego and other parts of the world. David will be missed by many.

Steve's career stats will read 18 career wins, six driver's championships and four national championships - all pending this weekend's H1 Unlimited season finale in San Diego - plus he's a six-time inductee into the American Power Boat Association's Hall of Champions and an inductee into the APBA Honor Squadron.

All that in a quarter-century of racing the fastest boats in the world.

We will miss Steve David as our driver, but we will miss him even more as a neighbor and as an ambassador to all that is good in our community. We wish him and wife Sabrina well in retirement and leave our welcome mat out always for his return.