Wiggins Racing of Rainbow City will be participating in the HydroFest boat races in Guntersville, but not in the H1 Unlimited category. During a race in Seattle late last year, the U-27 Wiggins Racing Unlimited hydroplane crashed. The boat was in need of some major repair.
Immediately the team started to develop a plan to rebuild. The more they started to work on her, the more the found wrong. They cut the boat apart and removed all of the vital parts. They removed the systems, the hardware and basically started building a new boat. The cockpit was also a part that they were able to save.
Charley Wiggins, co-owner of Wiggins Racing, said that they pretty much took the center section out and started building around it. This area is known as the sponson. For those who are unfamiliar with this, he explained that it is the area that is between the pontoons.
The team was able to save most of those areas. They were able to save a lot of the hydroplane, but they are rebuilding a lot. With the rebuild, they are hoping to make the boat lighter and stronger. The team has a goal of getting back to racing in H1 by this time next year.
Wiggins said it is hard to get one of these machines working when they do not have a full-time crew. He said that there are a lot of nights and weekends that are spent working on getting the boat ready. The crew are all volunteers.
He has high hopes that his sponsorship with Oh-Boy-Oberto will still be intact. He said that he spoke with the owner’s son, Larry Oberto. Oberto have been a part of hydroplane racing since 1970s. He believes that they do have a good standing with each other. He would have liked to have proven more in their two races that they ran, but he knows that they have a lot to prove once they start racing again.
Wiggins said that Oberto’s grandfather started the company and his father became involved in hydroplane racing. He hopes that he will be able to work with them in the future and continues to move forward. He anticipates that they will be able to continue to work together in the future.
With the work that they are doing on the boat, Wiggins said that they will be better off next year especially with the lighter boat because it will hopefully be faster. He said that it will be so worth the repairs from next year.
This year in Guntersville, they will be racing in the series under the Powerboat Nationals Series. Cal Phipps will be the driver. He has driven for them for a long time, Wiggins said. Wiggins used to drive the boats and Phipps took over after he stepped down.
Phipps drove in the 2018 race in Lake Guntersville. They did decent, but Wiggins said because of some problems, they did not run the final race. In the heat races, they had some issues and pulled the boat from the final race. He said that they made the right decision last year on pulling the boat from the final competition. They should have a better showing this coming year.
Wiggins started his driving career when he was 14 years-old. He was involved in the sport from an early age because his father used to race as well. At around the age of 17, he raced in Guntersville. He has been in various classes of boat racing. He said he won his first race in Guntersville in either 1985 or 1986. He continued to move up in the series. He said that he drove for other teams when he could as well.
In 2000, his driving career ended. He was hurt in a H1 event and stepped away from driving. He is still very involved in the sport, but just not as a driver. He loves to build things and rebuilding the boat has been the fun part of his career.
Wiggins said that he is looking forward to coming to Guntersville, but he wishes it was with the H1 series. Although it is not the H1, he is still excited to come to Guntersville. He hopes that they continue HydroFest in Guntersville because it is so close to home and he enjoys being in Alabama.
He is a little discouraged that they will not be racing the big boat in Guntersville this year, but they will be ready for next year. He said that he is looking long term and it is important to have the boat in the best shape. He is excited to see the races in Guntersville and see how well they do in the other series.