August 10-12, 2007
J and Fae Report
Steamy Hampton, Virginia welcomed the Inboarders for this year's National Championships. An overall strong field of boats rolled in and a stellar event was the result. Jerry Glass, the race committee and a throng of volunteers combined to run a smooth regatta as is always the case here. The blocked off bridge provides a wonderful setting for fans and vendors. All aspects from excellent crane coordination to course set up and rescue personnel are top notch. This race is hooked up! However, today's boat counts do not require a three day event. This was proven when wind cancelled Saturday's racing pushing second round qualifiers to Sunday. With great precision, Jerry's gang ran early and still completed the finals by 4 pm. Great job guys and gals! Since no classes needed elimination heats anyway, Friday and Saturday was just practice to get ready for Sunday's finals.
Here are the J and Fae boat totals: (T-12) (Y-10) (S-11) (A-8) (E-10) (NM-7) (GNH-4) (JSS-8) Total-70.
T boats presented a packed field with four pre-race favorites. They were Kasey Browning (T-15) Hott Stuff, Kelly Shane (T-1) Tangled Up In Blue, Brandon Kennedy (T-25) Shameless Say What, and Jason Browning (T-999) Bad To The Bone. Jimmy Shane returned to action in the (T-41) It's A Floater to add to the field. Everybody is fast but these boats are usually the best. Practice heats were good competition so the final was much anticipated. Nine boats charged the starting line with Kasey (T-15) hitting a perfect start. Kelly (T-1) shadowed her all the way but Kasey and the Hott Stuff were too hott to handle. This beautiful hull made a great picture at the checkers. Jimmy (T-41) took third. It must feel strange for Jimmy to drive an Unlimited, a Grand Prix and a T boat all in a short span of time. The T boats have become a great class to watch.
Y boats were all about trying to stop Dan Kanfoush in Jim Sechler's (Y-1) Fast Eddie Too. Jim was shooting for his third straight National Title. Uh oh, the five minute gun and no Dan! After taking off the cowling and thrashing about the crew found the problem and the (Y-1) sprang to life. I am sure all the other competitors were happy to see that, ha ha. The start was ragged with Tim Struzek (Y-103) Vaga-bond and DJ Wilson (Y-54) Pink Panther getting the jump on the field. They exited the first corner ahead until whoosh, the yaller boat sans cowling rocketed on by and that my friends was the race. Keith McMullen (Y-80) Outlaw started late but charged up to second. Terry Browning drove his unretired (Y-15) The Legend home third. These boats can only run flat out which makes hitting the start a challenge. This final proved that point. Having said that, they are becoming an extremely fun group to watch.
S boats had a solid theme as well. Can anyone beat Dutch Squires (S-83) Mega Bucks? Mark Johnson (S-9) Honey Bun and Mike Monahan (CS-60) Orange Rush led a fine crowd ready to try. Qualifiers were exciting setting up a potentially strong final. Eleven vessels stampeded toward the starting line in about nine lanes. That math does not work as Dutch found out. He was blocked out on the start by his own son! JP Squires (S-47) Tool N It appeared to take dad's water. Dutch exited turn one hopelessly behind. He then set sail up the backstretch knocking off boats like a sharpshooter shooting ducks at the fair. By the third lap only one boat was ahead of him. Tim Stuzek (S-702) Winning Ticket was cruising along driving a great race after nailing the start. Inevitably the fastest boat was going to prevail as Dutch eked out a well earned title. Mike Monahan (CS-60) came home third. Mike sold his boat this weekend so J and Fae would like to say thanks to him for all the thrills he gave the fans in this super hull. The stockers put on a fine show.
A boats presented a fantastic field. Several "bombs" were in town. Here are a few of them: Nicky Pellerin and Dan Kanfoush drove Don Mashburn's (A-60) Mr. Bud and (A-600) Mr. Bud Too. Both of these boats are proven speedsters. Jim Aid and Norm Cameron have the (A-33) In Cahoots Again's BMW singing again. Tommy Thompson (A-75) Fat Chance is a blur. J Michael Kelly was in town to drive the Weymouth's (A-20) Silver Clouds Inn. Throw in (A-54) Whoopee, (A-23) Geezerboat and (A-164) Blitzkreig and you get the picture, speeeeeeeeed! However, this class needs a set of special rules.
They should never run qualifiers, a couple of practice laps will do. The $%^*& qualifiers just blow up half the engines before the final. Ask Tommy Thompson. Anyway, Nick Pellerin (A-60) was still running strong and he whisked away with the title. J Michael (A-20) and Jim (A-33) followed him home. Every heat was great and Don Mashburn will tell you the final was the best.
GNH boats could not get all four hulls to perform so they ran no final. This story is getting old! If the East Coast guys will not race, then you Inboard Head Honchos need to fix this problem this winter at the yearly rules meeting. Please allow the NM guys to step up when we need them. The (NM-93) Desperado and (NM-69) Runaway and others could have saved the day. If something is not done soon this proud class will die on the East Coast just like the Flatbottoms.
JSS boats had a small but quality field on hand. The numbers are off but the speed is still there in this class. The qualifiers were very competitive with very little difference from first to third each time. The final start was beautiful with everyone hitting the line together. Tom Pakradooni (JS-99) Veri Cheri jumped out front. Dave Greenlaw's entry has done that plenty of times over the years. This time it was not to be for the (JS-99). Charles Strickland (JS-4) Red, White and Brew stalked the leader on the outside hip until barely squeezing by for the win. The Buterla's (JS-712) Just Flyin took third. Hey, we did not have a hundred penalties and arguments for once as the results stood. The Skippers skipped.
E boats had a very competitive field as anyone who teed it up could have won. Unfortunately Gordon Oakley (E-990) Hot Flash was eliminated in a nasty blowover in a qualifier. He is ok but the boat will need some work. That left nine boats for the final. As usual the start would be crucial. Scott Liddycoat (E-97) Team Extreme crept up on the entrance pin like a child stalking a butterfly. He got the inside and headed for the first corner moment of truth. Out in the middle on the start it got real crazy. Eric Labelle (CE-1) Do It, Joe Less (E-600) Centsless 12 and Wally Johnson (E-98) appeared to touch sending Joe floating precariously between hulls. Thank goodness he came down softly but he fell hopelessly behind. Meanwhile, Scott escaped turn one and held off a fierce charge by Tommy Thompson in Donnie Thompson's (E-816) Batt Boat to win the title tentatively. There may be a problem with Scott's fuel and we will know that later. Ken Brodie (E-500) Centsless 14 took third. What a wild final, but what is new for the fives.
NM boats had three boats flying in the pre-lims. Hootie Wolfe (NM-93) Trafficade Desperado was the favorite with Wheeler Baker (NM-69) Runaway and Tony Black (NM-928) Illusion looking like top challengers. All these beasts looked fast warming up and then Wheeler (NM-69) decided to give us a true "flashback moment". Once a perennial champion, Mr. Baker reached back to recapture the magic one more time. He hit the start and blasted away. Hootie (NM-93) drove like a madman to close the gap but it was Bobby Moore and Wheeler's day. Bringing this very experienced hull to the title will be remembered along with all those other Wheeler classics from the past. James Huffman (NM-97) Southern Extreme took third after struggling to get this boat running lately. All that hard work paid off for James and his crew.
Well, that is the way we saw it. Every class had several strong boats and each new champion definitely earned his/her title. To be called the "National Champion" in your class is arguably boat racing's greatest achievement. We sure hope these eight victors get out the paint or decals and proudly display 2007 National Champion on their hulls next year. That's "old school" babee! Finally, congratulations to everyone who had a hand in staging a classic event. We can still hear Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sending everyone home to Happy trails..... See ya in Celina. J and Fae