A wonderful and beautiful day was had for the first day of racing at the US Title Series Nationals, as the first of 172 entries hit the water for racing today, and represented an increase of 23 entries over last year and a 15% increase for the USTS.
The water level necessitated pitting in the soccer field, but the water level was perfect on the race course and our competitors enjoyed some fine racing with each other.
The “C Racing Hydro’s started us off with Jack Campbell winning over all with Justin Gibson winning a heat, but unable to start a heat and Campbell piling up the points to take the win over Justin and Duke Johnson for third.
Next up was the K-Pro category with a dog fight between Mackenzie Hellsten and Brady Brinkman has been going on all season long. Mackenzie came into the Nationals having taken a first in every race that the Title Series had run and was leading the points over her closest rival Brady.
As the race unfolded Makenzie took the first heat with Brady second and Ethan Fox for third. The next heat Mackenzie and Brady traded spots as Brady nailed a start from the inside lane and took it home all the way with Mac and Ethan finishing next in line. In the third heat, Mackenzie and Brady were fighting for the inside lane once again and Brady won out and had the short way around to take the 3rd heat for the overall win. Congrats to this 4th generation driver and his first National Championship.
Next up was the big 700R and they did not disappoint the huge Friday crowd along the shoreline at Lake Depue. Andrew Thirlby showing tremendous speed took the first heat and ran off from his partner in crime, Austin Van Over, both out of the Thirlby Automotive trailer. Andrew was leading in the second heat when he came to a stop in the first turn area and Austin went on to claim the victory. Austin and Andrew brought the crowd to their feet in the 3rd and final heat as Austin taking the overall win as he and Andrew battled for 4 laps, side by side down the straightaway and into the corners as these two young guns put on th a great crowd pleasing show. A round of applause broke out as they finished. Pete Voss was not going to be denied at spot on the podium as he drove 3 great heats, passing others to finish 3rd overall.
Next up was the 125R with Brad Dygert winning the first two heats to take a commanding lead going to the 3rd and final heat. As they came out for the 3rd heat, unfortunately for Brad he loaded up and turned outside the course marker and was disqualified in the heat. That opened the door for Jackson Hall to move into for the win in the 3rd and final heat and the win overall. Paul Bosnich III took home the spot on the podium and the disappointment for Brad was palatable.
Next up was CSR with young Jack Campbell III taking home all three heats, although in the 3rd heat they really made him work for it, as Duke Johnson got out front and Jack had to come from quite some ways back, but overtook the whole field to go back to back to back. Quite a feat for anyone in in any class. Congrats to Jack on a great run for the championship. Duke finished in the second spot with good runs for him and his nephew Kyle Deptula who finished in the 3rd position
Next up came the big 500H capsule boats with Dan Kirts the defending champion. As the first heat was called to the water, something I don’t think I have seen in my lifetime of boat racing occurred. As the gun went off and the boats began to come to the water 9 in total for 500H, Doug Hall, Jake Hoffert, Mark Gryskiewicz, and Nick Shakeshaft, all loaded up coming off the beach and all ended up sitting just off the pits watching the other 5 run the heat. Unreal to have seen that.
Dan Kirts went out and won the first heat while Ike Yoder and Tim Borway finished 2nd and 3rd. The second heat most finally hit the water, with Doug Hall taking the win and Dan finishing 2nd to Doug. As they 3rd heat started, Doug was a bit behind both Borway who got a tremendous start and Kirts as they headed to the first turn. Doug trying to hug the pin, hooked left and took the buoy out and was disqualified and Dan went on to take the win and back to back 2016 and 17 National Titles.
Tomorrow we start all over again with the second day of racing as we increase the speeds a bit as the USTS Nationals progress along. We thank the Depue Men’s Club for the great work in getting everything ready for us as the excitement has been building all along for the city and our fans as the Nationals in DePue has always been a great draw. Thank you fans and the Men’s Club as you both are the greatest.
My thanks to Sue, Denise and the whole staff of the USTS judges and crew on the beach, can’t do it without you guys.
As I write the story, OSY had a number of Protests to work through and was not yet decided. More on it tomorrow.