“The first test run will be qualifying setup. The cool thing about the new format is, is after tomorrow night, we can just go straight to focusing on race setup. It is what it is. We’ll try our hardest.”
— Defending Governor’s
Cup Champion Jeff Bernard
“The first test run will be qualifying setup. The cool thing about the new format is, is after tomorrow night, we can just go straight to focusing on race setup. It is what it is. We’ll try our hardest.” — Defending Governor’s Cup Champion Jeff Bernard
Race fans will see something unprecedented in the sport of Unlimited hydroplane racing when the first "Pole Position Friday" will be contested this afternoon.

For the first time in the sport's history, the qualifying positions will be set during one two-hour session, scheduled for 3-5 p.m. All 11 Unlimiteds will hit the water with only their speeds during this session counting toward the ladder.

The reasons behind the move are two-fold. First, the American Boat Racing Association wanted to give fans a chance to witness an "auto racing" style qualification session. Second, lane positions for the first set of heats will be based upon how the boats qualify.

Most drivers love the idea of the qualifying session itself. But nearly all are not happy with having lanes essentially set by qualifying, rather than by maneuvering before the heat.

Under the rules established by the ABRA, the fastest qualifier will get the first pick in the first heat with the slowest qualifier picking last. In the second section of heats, lane selection will be based upon results of the first heats, only in reverse order. In the third section of heats, as well as the provisional and final heats, lane selection will be based upon total points for the race.

While having a chance at picking the inside Lane One is enticing, U-5 Formulaboats.com driver Jeff Bernard is just hoping to finish near the top.

"That's somewhere where we slacked last year so that's one area where we really need to work on," said Bernard. "The first test run will be qualifying setup. The cool thing about the new format is, is after tomorrow night, we can just go straight to focusing on race setup. It is what it is. We'll try our hardest."

Making up points in qualifying is an area Bernard will target particularly this year. A season ago, he was the only driver to win multiple races, but he lost the national championship by 678 points to Steve David and the Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison.

Trying not to play a game of "what-if," Bernard doesn't want to leave any points on the water and that includes qualifying points.

"It's hard to go back and look at last year. If you do, I also had a penalty in Tri-Cities in a heat I would have won and a penalty in Seattle that I would have won," said Bernard. "If you take those two penalties back, it probably would have been enough. I'm not for sure. I've never calculated it and I don't want to know because if it was, it would make me mad."

The first set of heats is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Race Schedule

(Times subject to change)

Friday, July 3

10:30-10:40 a.m. - Opening Ceremonies

10:40 a.m.-4 p.m. - Comfort Inn Pit Tours

11 a.m.-Noon - Unlimited testing

1-3 p.m. - Unlimited testing

3-5 p.m. - Unlimited Pole Position

5:15 p.m. - Becon Construction Fastest Qualifier Award Ceremony

Saturday, July 4

9 a.m.-1 p.m. - Comfort Inn Pit Tours

10:30-10:45 a.m. - Opening Ceremonies

10:45-11 a.m. - Grote Industries Air Show

11 a.m.-Noon - Unlimited testing

12:15-12:45 p.m. - VFW Post 1969 & Men's Auxiliary Drivers Autograph Session

1:30-2 p.m. - Clifty Engineering & Tool Company Heat 1A

2-2:30 p.m. - Morgan Foods Heat 1B

2-3 p.m. - City of Madison Bicentennial Heat 1C

3-3:30 p.m. - Unlimited testing

3-4 p.m. - Comfort Inn Pit Tours

Sunday, July 5

9:30-10 a.m. - Opening Ceremonies

10-10:20 a.m. - Grote Industries Air Show

10:30-11:30 a.m. - Unlimited testing

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. - V.F.W. Post 1969 & Men's Auxiliary Drivers Autograph Session

12:40 p.m. - Gaylor Heat 2A

1:20 p.m. - American Legion Post 9 Heat 2B

2 p.m. - Honoring Past & Present Regatta Members Heat 2C

2:40 p.m. - Midwest Tube Mills Heat 3A

3 p.m. - Time Warner Cable Heat 3B

3:20 p.m. - Heat 3C

3:50 p.m.-4:10 p.m. - Grote Industries Air Show

4:20 p.m. - Madison Regatta Final Heat

5:15 p.m. - Awards Presentation