Powerboat Racing

USTS 2014 Pro Nationals Saturday Post Race Report

Day 2 of the USTS Nationals dawned with a cloudy overcast, but at least 20 degrees warmer than yesterday and warmed up even more as the day went on. With good fields, the speeds increasing, and the fence line filling in to capacity, you could feel the anticipation in the air. A great day of racing was looked forward to and the USTS drivers did not disappoint the thousands of fans lining the shoreline.

By Ray Rodda

July 26 2014

Our first class up was CRR Antique division with JJ Walls trying to defend and take home another of is titles as he 6 last year and was looking to match that total this year. JJ went out and ran a great first heat and led by a considerable distance with Duke Johnson and Karl Williams giving chase. In the second heat, JJ and Duke ended up in a spirited battle for the top spot with audience in awe at the two going side by side for almost all three laps, before JJ pulled it out by a little more than a boat length to take the overall win and another title to go with the CSR title yesterday. That gave him 5 and a chance at the 6th coming in the CSH.
JJ Walls
Duke Johnson
Karl Williams

Next up was the 250R with Paulie Bosnich III being not only the local favorite, but the defending champion. Paulie led a good field up for the start and set sail for a wire to wire win in the first heat with Tim Small, JP Jedwabny, Rich Krier, and Brian Payn all trying to rest the championship away. Paulie also took the second heat, although he had to fight for it as he started a little back in the field, but was able to take it. In the 3rd heat, Paulie knew what he needed and did not want to jump the gun and started in the back of the pack, with Tim wanting to let Paulie know he was there, ran away with the heat win. JP Jedwabny doing some of the best driving of his career finished the heats in fine fashion for a podium finish.
You could feel the tension as 10 of the fastest shoes in the country came up for the 350H came up next. I told the crowd, the hair on my arms was standing straight up before the 3 minute gun even went off. As the 350’s began to answer the 3 minute gun the crowd rose to their feet in anticipation of what they just knew would be a donnybrook. They all gathered down at the bottom corner coming around the pins to come up for the start. All of them were together as they headed toward the first turn. You could feel the tension as they came up the straightaway with Neil Larose out front with Gary Buskirk, David Mitchell, and Jeff Kugler tucked in behind. Then disaster struck as Neil’s motor broke the crank and he was a sitting duck. Buskirk had no place to go and turned right as hard as he could which launched him into a barrel roll, missing Neil who was sitting there, but barely. At that point the water was spraying everywhere and David Mitchell said he came into the spray, unable to see a thing and struck Gary’s boat, but Gary was long gone from the boat as he was pitched out and forward floating near Neil’s boat. David said he came to a sudden stop, rather the boat did and he too was launched out and over the wreckage to land very near Gary.
Everyone held their breath with boat carnage in the first turn. However, when the good Lord has you in his sight and in his hand you can go through anything, and that is what happened in this wreckage, as both Gary and David were transported directly to their pit area as both, while shook up, were basically uninjured, although I am willing to bet, soreness with be the word of the day tomorrow. Very thankful that these two great drivers came out OK.
Well of course we had to rerun the heat and see if we could do it again, nerves were pretty raw as we started the clock for the rerun. As the drivers went down to the bottom corner to come for the start, BJ Tetro and Chris Hellesten collided in the corner with Chris rolling it over and BJ being shoved down to the outside of the bottom turn. Chris was okay and came back in the 2nd and 3rd heats, while BJ ended up going to the hospital with a shoulder injury, but was taken by car to St. Margret’s.
Well we were off to try to get everyone left into the rerun and the total of 3 heats. Chris came back and ran one heat, finishing 2nd to Jeff Kugler, with Amy Nydahl unable to finish the first heat with a burnt piston. Her Dad working the magic to the Zoomie Boy’s entry, put a new piston in and boy did that work, as Amy finished out front in the next two heats, but Kugler did exactly what he needed to do and finished with the win overall with our Season point leader Ike Yoder finishing on the podium as well. Thank you Good Lord, miracles exist and are exhibited every day.
We started the day with 16 175H’s split the heats to get to the top 12 points for the 3rd and final heat Todd Anderson and Eric Schmidt each picked up a heat win for 1A and 1B. Todd was driving the RACE FOR KIDS hydro, which was brought over to the US by Ralph Donald, which is supposed to be very close in design to the 175H that Rene Benche from Germany used in the 175 Worlds held a Depue a few years ago. Todd had a virtual half a lap lead on the whole field in his heat win.
Eric suffered a loading problem which was all Todd needed to put the hurt on the field and take the title with Eric taking the second spot. Ryan Barth driving better and faster than I have ever seen before did a great job to finish in the 3rd spot, but he was only able to finish two heats, so that should say to you how well he did with a 1st in his second heat to go with the 2nd place finish in the first heat.
In CSH Antique, Jack Campbell had 2 perfect heat wins and took the title preventing JJ Walls looking to repeat with 6 titles as he scored last year. JJ just did not have enough as Jack was able to put the field away, with Kyle Deptula having a great weekend driving Duke Johnson’s hydro to a 3rd place finish, to put the icing on a great weekend for Duke’s team.
The big 700H’s came up and wow, put on your big boy pants and let’s go for a rocket ride, with GJ, non finishers and lots of racing action in between. In the first heat Doug Hall broke out of the pack along with Amy Nydahl and they chased off to a beautiful heat of racing with Doug coming out on top with Sean McKean David Hooten, and Jim Kirts giving chase. Doug took the heat with Amy not too far behind. McKean ended up twisting his driveshaft and found himself sitting right in front of the judges stand. Fortunately he did not twist the lower unit at the same time.
In the 2nd heat Amy Nydahl was unable to answer the bell as her battery lost a cell and they could not get that beast to start. My congrats to Mike Thirlby who put another engine together for Amy as she absolutely trashed the other big 700 rig at Constantine, although no fault of hers. The block in that one had about a 3” long hole in the block. In that 2nd heat, Doug Hall went into the first turn, looking for another win, only to have the boat hop into the inside and pick up the entry bouy on his pickle fork. “Not me Ossssssiiiiiffffffer was going to work as the orange evidence on the boat was quite visible.
The 3rd heat came up with 6 drivers holding from 427 points, Jim Wright to 300 points at the low end, Amy Nydahl. Doug Hall came up for the start and said he knew he had to be right on the button and indeed he was as he took home the 1,000.00 dollars to win in that beautiful Pugh hydro of his. Sean McKean came back in the 2nd and 3rd heats to shore up the 2nd position while Amy came back in the 3rd heat to finish on the podium.
Tomorrow we finish it off wth both the 125’s and 250 Hydro’s with splits along with the ever popular 1100R’s with Ashley Rucker riding deck to honor GrandPa Howard, “Andy,” Anderson in his favorite class. She will be riding with Andrew Thirlby who will be driving using a motor that Ashley’s Dad, Billy Rucker had used at Depue before. Should be a very fun, but moving tomorrow as we honor Howard.
In addition of course the big Top Hydro Class comes up with REV 2 and Robby Galletta offering the richest first prise in boat racing I am aware of in a 6,000.00 dollar first prize available and over 12,000.00 total for Top Hydro. We have 11 Top Hydro’s registered for tomorrow, so I anticipate a little pushing and shoving going on, but a great race will be had.
The USTS banquet was held tonight with a portion of the 30K in prize money handed out to the field with thanks to The Depue Men’s Club and REV 2. We had both Slick Solario, President of the Men’s Club and Mayor Eric Bryant speak about the 30 years in a row for the Nationals and a relationship second to none between a The Men’s Club as a sponsor and the USTS Club. Our thanks to these outstanding leaders who worked their magic and hearts out to save the Nationals a few years ago, with what some thought as a hair brain idea of putting a dam in the mouth of the lake to save the water and pump water into the lake. Illinois State Rep Mautino got involved as well and a dam was put in place, the Nationals were saved and now the dam will become a permanent fixture at some point. That does not come by accident, that is done through great leadership all the way around.
The Title Series also gives a big thanks to Debbie and her crew at the Runabout which hosted the banquet right on the shores of Lake Depue, convenient and the food was great.
We will see you tomorrow, the results for Sunday will be on twitter and facebook, but the narrative will probably not be up until Monday sometime.


Photo by Jean Tennell

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