Grooms
Grooms
H1 Unlimited didn’t wait long to name a new chairman, appointing Miss Madison Racing President Charlie Grooms to the interim position on Friday.

Grooms, a life-long Madison resident who has been with the Miss Madison Racing team since 1977, has served as vice-chairman under both Sam Cole and Steve David over the past several years. David resigned as chairman last weekend.

“It is an opportunity to help H1, the sites and the owners transition into some new and exciting things,” Grooms said. “I’m extremely happy to run our race team and take care of (sponsor) HomeStreet Bank, who has blossomed into a phenomenal, phenomenal sponsor. I just view (the chairmanship) as an extension of my involvement in H1. It’s just part of what I and Miss Madison need to do to help the sport.

“We have a lot of exciting stuff going on and I just want to help. They asked and I said sure.”

As vice-chairman, Grooms has been in a leadership position with the sport for several years and has often acted in place of Cole and David when the they were unable to attend an event. As recently as the APBA Gold Cup in Detroit last month, Grooms served as acting chairman when David opted to remain in southern Florida to oversee his properties as a hurricane approached the area.

David replaced Cole as chairman in September 2014 and resigned last week. But he said on Friday that his decision to leave was based on the positive future he sees in the sport in years to come.

“Some have said the sport is hurting, and precipitated my decision to step down. In fact, the opposite is true. My competitive nature would tell you I have never walked away from a challenge. I’ve been carried away in a stretcher from a few of them ... But I don’t leave trouble,” David said in a post on Facebook Friday evening. “That said, I’m old enough to know when a task is too big for me alone. Our sport has likely never seen a more promising future. It is the reality of managing those successes on the horizon that led me to know my time had come. My passion for boat racing is in my soul, and I’m going to make sure we have people in place that can get us to the finish line.”

While David has resigned, he still plans to stay involved with H1 as a consultant. Grooms also said that David will be around and ready to help whenever needed.

“I still have Steve’s number and he hasn’t blocked me yet,” Grooms joked. “The bylaws state that if the chairman isn’t available then the vice-chairman steps in and I have done that a few times in the past. I just view this as one of those times where Steve isn’t going to be there.

“The key word is ‘interim,’” Grooms added. “This is an interim position and that’s how I look at it.”

Grooms is facing a busy offseason. Along with the possibility of new race site deals to bring more money to the teams, H1 is looking at as many as three new sites that could join the series in the coming months.

“The first thing to deal with is to get our arms around the dynamic new opportunities that we have and how we has H1 want to deal with that,” Grooms said. “There are opportunities with race sites, there are opportunities with new race teams and there are some challenges. But those are the things that we’ll deal with and wherever that takes us, it takes us.”

Of course Grooms also has his team take care of. The Miss Madison, under a first-year sponsorship by HomeStreet Bank, won its seventh National High Points title in the past nine years last weekend and enters the 2017 season as the premier team in the sport.

Grooms said that HomeStreet Bank has verbally agreed to pick up its sponsorship option with the team in 2017 and he expects an even bigger presence by the Seattle-based company next year.

“We are in negotiations right now with HomeStreet not only with the race team, but within the sport. They are extremely committed to H1, to our sport and our teams as we saw in San Diego,” said Grooms. “They’re very much looking forward to upping their game even more. We’re looking forward to that and working with them.”

Grooms first joined the Miss Madison team in 1977 when his uncle, Jon Peddie, was named driver. He was promoted to crew chief and team manager in 1980 and served as crew chief until 2006 when Mike Hanson returned to lead the team. He replaced Bob Hughes as president of Miss Madison Inc. a year ago.

“I’ve known Charlie for over 28 years and there are few to match his passion for Unlimiteds,” David said. “I believe it will be a seamless handoff and provide continuity of leadership.”