Art Oberto’s boat looking for another Seafair win
Art Oberto, the 85-year-old “Jester of Jerky” is a colorful character on the Lake Washington shores.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seafair hydros (Albert Lee Appliance Cup)
Qualifying: Friday, 2:45 p.m.
Saturday schedule: Unlimited heats 1A (12:50 p.m.), 1B (1:10 p.m.)
Sunday schedule: Unlimited heats 2A (11:10 a.m.) and 2B (11:30 a.m.); Heats 3A (12:40 p.m.) and 3B (1 p.m.); Provisional heat (2:55 p.m.); Albert Lee Appliance Cup H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Final (4:45 p.m.)
Tickets: Friday – general admission free; reserved $20; Saturday and Sunday – reserved $40; general admission $25 for adults, $10 for age 65-over and youth age 6-12.
Art Oberto, the 85-year-old chairman and CEO of his family sausage and jerky company Oh Boy! Oberto, was knighted Tuesday at the Albert Lee Appliance Cup news conference.
This weekend, the “Jester of Jerky” and his Oh Boy! Oberto unlimited hydroplane will gun for their fourth consecutive victory at the Lake Washington race.
While the knighting celebration might have been a unique exclamation point on top of a prolific career in jerky production and hydroplane racing, Oberto’s recognition as a very important person doesn’t call for an official ceremony.
“While the Blue Angels are not here, our red, white and green angel is here,” Oh Boy! Oberto driver Steve David said of Oberto, who was accompanied by his son Larry.
Oberto’s hydroplane legacy dates to 2000, when the Oh Boy! Oberto entrepreneur bought the rights to slap his logo on the Miss Madison boat. The Oh Boy! Oberto saw some success its first few races under driver Nate Brown. David joined the team a year later and the boat went through a rough patch, winning one race in four years.
Once acclimated with the hydro scene, David managed to string together a number of podium finishes. Meanwhile, Oberto paced the Lake Washington beaches, handing out packets of jerky along with his prized ballpoint pens, inscribed with “Stolen from Art Oberto,” that Seafair attendees flock to him for.
The rest was history.
Oberto is very appreciative of the success his boat has had in recent years.
“All the people in Madison (Ind.) that are working on the boat, they’re all volunteers,” Oberto said. “Those guys work their heart out to put together the best boat anybody’s ever had.”
As for Sunday’s final, Oberto said he expects his boat to cruise to yet another Seafair victory.
“We’re definitely going to win. I’ve got a guardian angel and if he quits on me, I’m going to beat him out the door,” Oberto said.
• The U-96 Spirit of Qatar boat will not be race-ready, the Ellstrom Racing Team announced on Facebook Thursday morning.
• Racing legend Dave Villwock, who once manned the U-96 boat, retired from the sport earlier this year. Villwock will be with the U-37 Beacon Plumbing boat this weekend, serving as a consultant.
Theo Lawson: firstname.lastname@example.org.