- Summaries (4)
A story about a man's personal struggle to victory in the 1971 Madison, Indiana hydro-plane regatta.
Madison, Indiana, 1971. The Ohio river port is in full economic decline, its last pride and obsession being its uniquely town-owned power boat, although the raggedy old donation from a millionaire decades ago never comes close to a win. With his doted upon son Mike as most devoted fan, air-conditioner repairman Jim McCormick, who had to stop piloting it after a near-fatal accident, devotes all his 'spare' time to it, turning down professional opportunities as that would mean moving, as his wife suggests. Things climax when he realizes the town will either be scrapped from the national racing circuit or host the Gold Cup itself, requiring $50,000 fund raising.
Mike McCormick recounts his life in the summer of 1971, when he was a ten year old adolescent living in the town of Madison, Indiana, on the northern banks of the Ohio River. Madison was once the busiest port upstream of New Orleans, but it had since hit hard times, with many people choosing to leave for greener pastures. Mike's father, Jim McCormick, still had his HVAC job, but would not have it much longer if the town's economy did not take a drastic turn for the better. Madison had a rich history in competitive boat racing, having hosted the first ever such race in the United States. Hydroplaning was like a religion in town, Madison being the only community worldwide that owned its own competitive hydroplane, the Miss Madison, whereas all other boats were corporate owned or sponsored. Madison also was one of only six stops on the hydroplane racing circuit. Jim once piloted the Miss Madison, but a racing accident in 1961 that injured him and killed his best friend, a fellow pilot, ended his racing career. He had since worked behind the scenes for the team, but was getting more and more involved - as his teammates left town - to the point of being head of the team in 1971. This focus on racing exasperated Mike's mother, Bonnie McCormick, who wanted Jim to focus more on their family, which meant leaving Madison for a more stable and thus better life. The American Power Boat Association (APBA) chose by lottery Madison to host the Gold Cup Championship race that year, the most prestigious race on the circuit. This choice was not a done deal as the town had to put up a $50,000 deposit, money which it did not have. In addition, Jim was determined to get the Miss Madison in shape for the Gold Cup, despite her twelve year old age, the battering she took in season races, and the team having neither the time, money or technological expertise to make the necessary repairs to get her near the quality of other newer boats. And other issues made Jim have to make the decision if he would once again get behind the wheel competitively. Despite loving his father and hydroplaning, Mike had an inferiority complex compared to the other children who traveled the race circuit as Madison was seen as an unsophisticated backwater that did not deserve to host the Gold Cup, as the Miss Madison was seen as a relic, and as the other kids taunted Mike about Jim being afraid to race. That summer would show Mike and the world just what Jim and Madison were made out of.
In 1971, air-conditioner repairman and boat enthusiast Jim McCormick entertains his desire to 'go down' as a legend in the record books when the Gold Cup hydroplane boat race improbably comes to his small town of Madison, Indiana. Immediately, Jim seizes his opportunity to enter the contest. With a motley crew of fellow mechanics and friends at his side, Jim fixes up his old boat and brings hope to the blighted industrial city.
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