The UR Class is Here! But Will it Fly? 
The concept of an all-automotive powered unlimited class has been bantered about for five or six years, with boats being built, race circuits being formulated and a whole lot of spoken promises that never came true. Jerry Schoenith came the closest in 1987 with his Automotive Thunderboat Association (ATA), patterned around his five twin-engined hulls. Lack of support from within the sport and an indifferent attitude from most unlimited purists pushed Schoenith's boats back into their boxes.
But the demands to "restore the roar" and provide an arena for this type of big race boat have kept the spark alive, and the Unlimited Racing Commission has introduced what is called the UR, or Unlimited Reciprocating Class. Rules were set up and the Rutkauskas Brothers' former Renault hull was designated the UR-5, the first UR Class boat.
Other twin automotive-engined unlimiteds, such as Brian Keogh's U-9, did not fit into the guidelines of the new class and ran the 1991 circuit as a pure unlimited hydroplane. Future changes, though, will undoubtedly allow all such boats to be eligible.
Will we see a full field of UR boats in the near future? That's the plan. Seven or eight of these boats currently exist, and they could serve as the base from which to launch a whole fleet of new hulls that would race in conjunction with the turbine unlimiteds and provide a race program that would be second to none: the largest and fastest race boats in the world -- the turbines -- together with the roaring, flying piston boats of the UR Class.
Possible UR Class Boats:
UR5 Edge Shave Gel (ex-Renault, currently running on unlimited
U-9 Motorcraft Thunder (currently running on unlimited circuit)
U-88 Miss Detroit (ran in '89, now for sale)
U-40 (former Double Trouble, remodeled by Mark Evans in '90, now for sale)
U-21 Eliminator (ran on circuit in '87-'88, now for sale)
U-? (MerCruiser ATA hull, damaged in ATA race, needs canopy, fast boat for sale)
U-200 (former Prevost hull, needs much work, sponsons, powerplants, etc.)
U-14 Miss O'Neill & Knudsen (canopy going on, should be ready).
The Double Trouble, driven by Mark Tate, and the MerCruiser ATA, driven by John Prevost, staged a flashy exhibition at Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1987.
(reprinted from Thunderboat, October 1991)
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This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010.
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© Leslie Field, 1999