Jean Theoret

frontshotseattle

Inducted 2011

Background

Jean Theoret was born in Valleyfield, Quebec on January 29, 1962. Valleyfield is the home of Canada’s oldest and most successful hydroplane regatta. Jean grew up around hydroplane racing. It is in his blood. His uncle, Robert Theoret, is one of Canada’s most successful hydroplane owners and an honoured member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame. Jean’s father, Gerald Theoret was a legendary driver, boat owner and tuner. While still in his teens, Jean was not only a crew member, he was the team’s engine builder. His elder brother, Pierre, was the driver. Pierre was killed in a crash at St. Gabriel in 1981. Despite that tragedy, Robert was determined to be a hydroplane racer. His father decided to support him. “My father said, ‘I want to give you what I gave to Pierre’…I thought that was pretty amazing for him, losing a son and not going completely out of it. It’s really a faith thing.”

The 2.5 Litre Class

Jean Theoret made his debut as a hydroplane driver in 1983. Racing in the 2.5 Litre Class, he won his first hydroplane races and was Rookie of the Year.

The Grand Prix Class

In only his second year as a hydroplane racer, Jean moved up to the Grand Prix class, the premier inboard hydroplane class in Canada and the top limited hydroplane class in North America. Despite a ten-fold increase in horsepower, he was soon on a level with the top drivers in the class. Jean drove for his family’s team, managed by his father, through the whole of his time in the Grand Prix class. He started with Danash II, which he raced from 1984 through 1993. From 1994 through 2001, Jean raced boats built by Jamie Auld of Brockville, Ontario. Sponsored by Lotto Quebec, they were called Super 7 in Quebec and Casino de Montreal when he raced outside of Quebec.

1984 – Rookie of the year in Grand Prix
– First win in Grand Prix class in St.Timothee
1985 – Wins at St.Timothee and Ville-Marie
– 3rd in Grand Prix championship
1986 – Win at Littleton, N.H.
– U.S. National Championship
1990 – 5th in Grand Prix Championship
1991 – One win at Tonawanda
– Canadian & U.S. Closed Course Competition Record (1¼ mile circuit): 105.47 mph.
1992 – World Closed Course Competition Record (1¼ mile circuit):112.4 mph., set at Aylmer, P.Q.
1993 – Three wins: Valleyfield, Summerside, Cocagne.
– 3rd in the World Championship
– 2nd in the Grand Prix Hydroplane Drivers’ Championship
1994 – Six wins: Detroit, Kansas City, Gatineau, Valleyfield (twice) and Cocagne.
– World Champion
– Canadian Boating Federation Champion – Export “A“ Series Championship
– U.S. National Champion (APBA)
– U.S. High Point Champion (APBA)
– World Closed Course Competition Record (1¼ mile circuit): 114.97
1995 – Four wins: Valleyfield, Ville-Marie, Summerside, Dubuque
– Canadian Champion
– North American Champion
– U.S. National Champion
1996 – Three wins: Tonawanda, Summerside, Longueil
– World Champion
1997 – Four wins: Detroit, Valleyfield (twice), Cocagne
– World Champion
– Canadian Champion
– Winner of the APBA Silver Cup

1998 – Three wins: Valleyfield, Tonawanda, Verdun
– World Closed Course Competition Record (1 mile circuit): 99.59 mph
– Canadian Champion
1999 – Four wins: Muscatine, Ville-Marie, Tonawanda, Cocagne
– Canadian Champion
– U.S. High Point Champion
– U.S. National Champion
2000 – Eight wins: Tonawanda, Valleyfield, Indiana, 5 wins in 6 races on New Zealand tour
– World Champion – won at Cambridge, New Zealand
– U.S. High Point Champion
2001 – Three wins: Pontiac Lake, Hampton Beach, Tonawanda)
– World Champion
– Fastest time trial in Valleyfield on
– Closed Course Competition Record (1 mile circuit): 102.1 mph

Jean Theoret retired from the Grand Prix Class after the 2001 season. He had met all the challenges and there was nothing left to win. Many believe that Jean’s dominance of the class in the 1990s led to the demise of the Grand Prix Class.

Unlimited Hydroplane Racing

Jean always had an ambition to race the big turbine powered Unlimiteds. In 2003 and 2004, he visited Unlimited races and sent videos to the teams. Bill Wurster was looking for a driver for his U-8 Llumar boat. Team members convinced him Jean was the best choice. He was hired at the start of the 2005 season. As Unlimited legend Chip Hanauer said, “I wondered for years why no one ever hired him”. By late summer, Wurster was calling Jean “the best driver the sport has ever seen”.

2005 – Won his first ever Unlimited heat at Evansville
– Two wins: Seattle’s Seafare and Nashville’s Music City Hydrofest
– 2nd in American Boat Racing Association (ABRA) championship points
– Unlimited hydroplane Rookie of the Year at age 43

Before the 2006 season, Wurster sold the U-8 to Unlimited hydro legend Billy Schumacher who rechristened it the U-37, with sponsorship from Beacon Plumbing.

2006 – Winner of the APBA Gold Cup, the crown jewel of Unlimited Hydroplane racing. Jean
won even though bodywork came loose, flew off and tore the rear stabilizer wing off his
boat. Jean “just kept racing”. He was the first Canadian to officially win APBA Gold Cup. (Harry Greening
won on the water but lost it in boardroom in 1924).
– Won the Chevrolet Cup at Seattle Seafare
– UIM (Union Internationale Motonautique) Unlimited Class World Champion – won at
San Diego
– 4th in ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane championship points
2007 – No wins, 2nd at Evansville, 3rd at San Diego, 4th at Madison
– finished 1st or 2nd in 12 of 23 heat races
– 3rd in ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane championship standings

Jean Theoret has been in hydroplane racing all his life – as a crew member, an engine builder, a driver and a team owner and manager. In 2007, he celebrated his 25th anniversary as a driver. Jean was the most successful driver in the history of the Grand Prix class – Canada’s premier inboard hydroplane class – with 43 wins, and numerous Canadian, American, North American and World Championships and speed records. He was the first Canadian to win an Unlimited hydroplane race since Bob Hayward. He has won more Unlimited races than any other Canadian. He was the first Canadian to officially win APBA Gold Cup. Simply put, Jean Theoret is Canada’s most successful living hydroplane racer and one of the greatest powerboat racers Canada has produced.

Image via Weismann Marine

Speak Your Mind

*