Defending champ Shane to drive Oberto/Miss Madison
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:00 AM
Jimmy Shane has had nothing but success in his two years with the Graham Trucking team. But when he had a chance to join one of the most storied programs in the sport's history, he didn't hesitate one bit.
“Jimmy Shane is a great young driver and he is the future of this sport.”
Miss Madison driver Steve David, speaking last season on fellow driver Jimmy Shane (right).
Shane has been hired to take the seat vacated by David’s retirement. (2013 Courier
Miss Madison Racing Pilots
Those who have served as driver of the U-6 Miss Madison since 1961.
Marion Cooper*, 1961-62
Morlan Visel*, 1963
Buddy Byers, 1963-65
Jim McCormick*, 1966, 1969-71
Ed O'Halloran*, 1967-68
Charlie Dunn*, 1972-73
Tom Sheehy, 1973, 1982
Milner Irvin, 1974, 1978-81, 1984
Jerry Bangs*, 1975
Ron Snyder, 1976, 1982-84, 1986-88
Jon Peddie, 1977-78
Andy Coker, 1985-86
Jerry Hopp+, 1986, 2000
Mitch Evans+, 1988
Mike Hanson, 1988-98
Todd Yarling, 1999
Charley Wiggins, 2000
Nate Brown, 2000
Steve David, 2001-13
Jon Zimmerman+, 2011
Jimmy Shane, 2014-
Shane was officially announced as the 21st driver in Miss Madison history on Tuesday, replacing the retired Steve David at the helm of the world's only community-owned Unlimited hydroplane. Shane won the national championship last season - beating David by a mere 68 points - and now joins forces with the team he spent two years trying to beat.
"Coming off the season we had with the Graham Trucking team, it was not a decision a lot of people thought would happen," Shane said. "After the season was over, I had a couple of options in front of me and I decided to do what I thought was best for my future, and for my family. I decided that being a part of the Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison team was the best route to take.
"The history of the team is very inspiring and the opportunity, I felt, was not going to come up again if I didn't take it at the time," Shane added.
Shane won a circuit-high six races in his two years as the full-time driver for the Decatur, Ind.-based Precision Performance Engineering team and gave owner Ted Porter his second national championship last season.
When David announced his retirement after 12 seasons late last year, the Miss Madison job suddenly became the most coveted ride on the circuit. And although the team received more than a dozen applications for the seat, team manager Charlie Grooms knew all along which driver he wanted.
"It's a good opportunity for us for sure," Grooms said. "He won the national championship last year and that speaks volumes for the ability that he has. We're very excited to be able to add him to our team this year. We couldn't be happier."
For the Miss Madison team, Shane is the complete package. The 28-year-old Shane is not only an accomplished driver but a good spokesman and a favorite of fans. For a team that has prided itself in being one of the most fan-friendly on the circuit, having a driver that represents that brand was important.
But Shane is more than just a driver and a hand-shaker. He's also a boat-builder and a metal fabricator and takes the technical side of the sport as seriously as the driving side.
"He had a number of qualities that were in his favor," Grooms said. "One of the biggest was his relationship with (crew chief) Mike (Hanson). He and Mike go back a long time and he and Jimmy speak the same language."
"It is nothing against the Graham Trucking team. We won the national championship and Tom Anderson was the best crew chief I've had up until that time," Shane said. "I just thought this was a better fit for me. Mike Hanson and I have already been communicating very well and starting to plan out some small changes, some things that we think are going to be beneficial for the team as a whole. It's exciting looking forward."
Hanson, who joined the team as driver and hull specialist in 1985, took over crew chief duties in 2004 and has played a major role in the Miss Madison's four national championships and David's six driver's crowns. Hanson signed off on Shane's hiring and is ready to get started.
"We are very excited to have Jimmy joining the team and are looking forward to having a young talented driver who has the potential to stick around for a long time, such as Steve and I have done," Hanson said. "We're looking forward to the upcoming season, and we're very happy to have Jimmy, Bianca and Colton as our new additions to the team!"
Shane said it shouldn't take very long for him to get used to his new ride, but the team plans to provide at least one test session for him to feel the boat out prior to the season. The team will test in the Tri-Cities, Washington, in April and hasn't ruled out a test in Seattle as well.
"Every year we head to the Miss Budweiser shop to dyno the engines and this year we're just going to drag the boat along as well," Grooms said. "We'll test for sure in Pasco and there is a possibility of Seattle as well. But we want to give Jimmy as much time in the boat as he needs."
"I think it's going to be a quick transition with the equipment the Oberto team has," Shane said. "And I think Mike and I are going to make sure that we transition properly, make it so we're not rushing in and setting up the boat too radically. I'm more of a conservative driver when it comes to setting up the boat. I like to have a little bit of leeway. If the boat tends to get out of shape, I like to make sure I have the control to bring it back down ... but still being aggressive and running the boat hard is always going to be there for me. I do feel like I'm aggressive at the right times."
Shane's hiring was first reported in October - just prior to his resignation as driver of the Graham Trucking - but Miss Madison Racing declined to confirm or deny the story at that time. Grooms said on Tuesday that the team had a good reason for the long delay in making the hire official.
"We've been working on running a second boat and a major national sponsor is involved and Jimmy was wrapped up in those talks," Grooms said. "Things at the corporate level don't always work as quickly as you would like and we felt like we could go ahead with this announcement."
The possibility of running a second boat is not the only change the team has in store for this season. Corporate sponsor Oberto Beef Jerky has dropped the traditional "Oh Boy!" from its official packaging and the name change will be reflected on the boat, which now will be known as just the "Oberto."
Grooms also said that a new paint scheme is in the works for the season to mirror that corporate change.
"It's kind of fitting that Jimmy is joining us this season because it will be a new era," Grooms said. "Change in driver, change in paint scheme, change in name. It's a new day."
A change for sure but the expectations remain the same. While not one for bold predictions, Shane said that he and his new team's goals remain the same.
"I think there is going to be some automatic conclusions that we're going to go out there and go for the national championship but we're going to do it on our own schedule," Shane said. "That is our ultimate goal and that's what we're there to race for, but we're going to make sure we do it in the right way and not rush into anything."
Shane is originally from the Baltimore area but now lives in Seattle with his wife, Bianca, a boat racer herself, and young son, Colton. However, Shane said he is now also a Madisonian and is ready to represent his new city.
"I'm so overwhelmed with pride that I get to drive a boat at a time when it is a top-tier boat," Shane said. "For me, it's the right timing. I feel like this is a good move. I'm just excited to be a part of the Miss Madison team and represent the owners, the entire city of Madison, and I will continue to do the best that I can and take what the previous drivers have instilled in the program and hopefully move it forward and even farther than what it has in the past. It's a very exciting time for me and hopefully all of the fans and owners in Madison will be excited about me joining the team."