Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Crazy times are upon us. Everybody is scrambling to get ready for Madison. General maintenance is happening at the U-17 shop, along with truck organization. Also, we have been stockpiling spares in preparation for any mishaps. You know what they say: You only need it if you don’t have it. We have a spare skid fin, front canard, rear wing and horizontals, and cowling. This weekend, we are finishing a spare rudder. I don’t know if we are ready for everything, but we are in a lot better shape than previous years!

The boat paint is finished and buffed, and looks great. The new trailer turned out fantastic, and has lots of storage that our old light weight trailer did not have. In fact, we have a drawer for the skid fin, which will help cut down time at setup and tear down. Also, we have shafting and tool storage inside the trailer which will also save time and effort.

The E-55 five liter repair has consumed my last week. The deck piece is rebuilt, and all but one sponson parts are ready to glue in. In fact, last night I glued in the missing piece of running surface. If I am home early enough tonight, I will glue in the non- trip and prep the last side piece. Our paint and body guy, Monkey, is ready to rock and I am afraid he may start slinging poo at me (monkeys do that.)

Finally, my brother in law, Jeff Bernard, had a nasty crash in 2.5 stock at last weekend’s race in Chamberlain, South Dakota. His S-1 National Champion ride Liquid Lizard was destroyed, and Dutch Squires’ Mega Bucks was also badly damaged. Thankfully, both drivers are OK, though Jeffy is awfully sore. He should be fine by Madison!

Kip Brown

Friday, June 17, 2011


I spent the first part of last night wet sanding primer on the right sponson and deck, getting it ready for world famous 1 liter pilot, Jimmy LaBrie, to paint today. The second project was helping John O’Brien install a new polycarbonate fence on the right sponson. Then, the canard came back off and Jimmy and I serviced the bearings. We found the left side bearings were not happy (Doha got to them) and will replace them this weekend. I used some special Lucas Racing Lube that is sure to add 12 mph to our laps (shhhhhh.) Steve worked on trailer batteries. Dick made a travel jig for the rear wings and spare canard. Nate was working on the skid fin on a surface table, and running Kelly Stocklin out of the shop and back to Beaver Lake. Dave and Kurt were working on the #3 engine motor mounts. Joe holed up in the machine shop, blueprinting a gear box dry sump pump. The truck was out getting service, and should be back today.  

Tiffany (my lovely bride) is making arrangements for the team’s flights for San Diego already. Now THAT is being ahead of the game. That makes me think of how lucky I am, and how lucky so many of the racers are, for the support that we receive from our families. Boat racing is an incredible sport, but it requires an unbelievable amount of time and effort, especially at the upper levels. There are two ways to go about it: Be a bachelor and live at the shop, or have an understanding family who supports your passion. I have done both, and I have also seen relationships strained or ruined because of the commitment required to succeed in racing. I am so fortunate to have Tiffany, and we are raising our daughters Taylor (5) and Katie(2) at the races, just like both of us were raised. Hopefully, one of the girls will marry Jon and Joanne Zimmerman’s son Jack, and they will raise their kids at the races, too. Plus, then Jon will lay off of me in the five liter (probably not!)

There will be more details and organization being handled this weekend, while we prepare to head to Madison. The truck is scheduled to leave a week from Monday. I heard today that there may be a surprise team there??? Talk to you next week!

Kip Brown

Thursday, June 16, 2011


It was nice to not be in “thrash mode” on Tuesday night. After the big push for Sammamish, and a successful outing at Tastin’ and Racin’, we are working on smaller details, getting ready for Madison.

There were a few scuffs and pin holes on the right sponson that we weren’t crazy about, so I filled those with glazing putty and prepped them for paint. Also, there was a gouge near a deck hatch that needed to be fixed and painted, which is done. The right sponson runner had an old repair that was not looking great. I ground that out and repaired with Hysol.

Katie Forsell came to the shop to help out and learn how much fun an Unlimited crew night can be. She is fresh off of the Hydroplane Driver’s School at the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum (instructed by Chip Hanauer, David Williams, and some guy named Kip) and her debut in 1 Liter at Tastin’ and Racin’. She helped Jim with inventory and organization in the truck, and then helped me build a shoulder rest in the cockpit. You may be shocked because of how thin I appear to be, but while driving I turn into a Hulk and need padding to keep my massive body from damaging the capsule. It’s my gift and my curse…

Tonight it will be more of the same. Organization, cleaning, and general readiness is the name of the game. I feel like we are ahead of schedule, which is a lot more than I can say for certain other teams (are the decks on yet?)

Speaking of decks, I cut the right deck off of the E-55 Miss Peters and May last night to begin the repairs caused by the unforgiving Lake Sammamish last weekend. Go to my facebook page to see the photo, and I will post more as it comes apart, and starts to take shape again!

Kip Brown

Monday, June 13, 2011


Well, quite a weekend for the U-17 and E-55 teams. The Miss Red Dot was in the pits nice and early on Friday at Tastin’ and Racin’ and our crew got everything ready to rock, and even left at a reasonable hour. Gremlins struck on Saturday morning when we trailer fired and an oil filter seal failed. Our guys scrambled and got the engine out, repaired the filter, and reinstalled. We fired again and found a fuel leak that could only be repaired at the shop. Again, the engine came out and a spare was installed. We ran well during the first exhibition, with no mechanical or handling problems. I was very happy with the boat ride and the cockpit changes.

Nate drove the boat in the afternoon and it looked great! He buzzed the point, then buzzed the spectator boats, then buzzed the houses in turn two, well, you get the idea… Leave it to Nate to create excitement. He was happy with the boat ride, also.

Saturday afternoon Troy Holmberg got back with the new engine, freshly repaired, and the team reinstalled it for my runs on Sunday. Sunday, we worked on gathering data for the new engine. We practiced going slow and accelerating from 45 MPH, about the speed that we expect when fighting for lanes. We were all very happy with the performance of the new engine, and our gear ratio package should prove to be a good race package for Madison. In fact, it may be a bit too aggressive for qualifying, but we will see!

The E-55, Miss Peters and May, was victorious for the weekend, but certainly not without a ton of effort. We won the first heat on Saturday, but lost an engine while crossing the finish line. Our team quickly removed that engine and we borrowed a spare from Justin Weymouth, a team member of the U-17, and a former National Champion in 5 liter. With Justin’s engine installed, we won the final Saturday afternoon. As soon as we were back on the trailer, we removed Justin’s engine and installed out backup engine, which had been retrieved from my house by a crew member. We left the pits at about 10:00 PM, under a blanket of darkness.

We looked forward to an easier day on Sunday, but it was not to be! After a rough first turn on Sunday’s first heat, the left sponson of our boat was badly damaged. Even full of water, we finished second to Jon Zimmerman. I figured we were done for the day, but my guys had a different idea! They quickly cut out the damaged pieces and I started mixing epoxy. Nate joined the fray and led the repair crew. We cut up a prop box and a pallet for some wood, and used a spare deck hatch from the Unlimited for aluminum. 32 ounces of System Three Resin and a roll of Gorilla Tape later, the Miss Peters and May was water-tight again. We ran another second in Sunday’s final, and finished first overall for the weekend, beating three other Unlimited drivers in the process.

I can’t sing enough praise for both of my crews! The U-17 crew has a few new guys, but they worked together like clockwork all weekend long. We also had Jerod Marin on tarp duty all weekend, keeping the sand swept off. He may have had the toughest job, and worked like crazy. Justin had a little health problem and went to the hospital on Saturday, but I am happy to report that he went home the same day and feels really well after some rest on Sunday. My guys on the E-55 and S-12 teams were the heroes of the weekend, literally cramming a season’s worth of repairs in two days. Even with all the problems and drama, we never missed a heat with either boat. Thank you all so much!

Now, it is time to check the data from the weekend and for a game plan for Madison. More to come…

Kip Brown

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Last night was a late one. A few of us got out of there around midnight. The boat is on the trailer. The canard is on and operational. The bull noses are on. Seat belts are adjusted. The trailer is fricking TALL. We need to come up with something in a hurry for steps. Either that, or a trampoline, which I think would be cool. I am not going to the shop tonight, though most of the guys are, and hopefully we will have an engine installed and ready to trailer fire this evening. The best thing is, we will be ready to rock this weekend at Tastin' and Racin'!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Well, we did not get the boat on the trailer last night, but we figured it was easier to work on it while it was on the floor. The trailer is ready and it looks AWESOME with the new wheels on it and new diamond plate. It really came together well.
John Spears from Auburn Way Autobody came back with the new bullnoses painted and the new rear wing painted. They look sweet. We will install the noses tonight once the boat is on the trailer. We will also probably test fit the wing.
I spent over 4 hours fitting the new head rest last night, but it came out nice. If it keeps me from crawling up the side of the cockpit during turns, it will all be worth it. The seat belts are also installed.
We are down to the finishing touches for the next couple days, which is good, cause this kid needs a little sleep. Maybe I can nap in the cockpit on Saturday. A belly full of Tastin’ and Racin’ Chinese food and a warm dry cockpit would put anyone to sleep!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


More positive action last night at the shop. When I got there after work, several guys were at it, knocking stuff out. The trailer bunks are carpeted and installed. The new tires and wheels are here today and will be installed. We are putting the boat on the trailer tonight. Last night, I got our spare rear wing ready for touch up paint. I attacked a “little bondo crack” on the leading edge of the front wing that became a bigger project (shocker…) I ended up digging out a fracture and filling with about 75 grams of Hysol. I will body work and paint it tonight. I got the cockpit all cleaned out and ready to go. I went to install the belts and realized that our sub belt has been MIA since after San Diego. One call to Al Lapointe at SRP, and that problem is solved. Joe is picking up the new belt today.

Speaking of Joe, he spent a better part of the evening building a fuel transfer pump monitor. After careful consideration, we collectively decided that a Honey Bear would be the proper reservoir. Thus, Joe has a new nickname. “Honey Bear” has a better ring to it than Joe, anyway.

My new Kirkey head rest came Fed Ex today. One of tonight’s projects will be mocking it up to see if it will work in the cockpit. I hope it will, ‘cause the part is really cool.

The engine dudes will be rocking tonight. They have two more engines to test fit. Then our new engine, fresh off of a successful dyno run, will be installed to be run this weekend at Tastin’ and Racin’.

On a side note, the five liter that Jeff Bernard and I run, Miss Peters and May, is all ready to go for this weekend. Our Block Head Machine power plant is fresh, and a little steering problem was fixed this week. I installed a new starter on Sunday, and Jeff is going to test fire tonight. We are expecting good things this weekend in a tough five liter class!


Saturday, June 4, 2011


Great day today at the shop. The team was in full force, and we busted out a ton of work. Nate and Dave got the trailer bunks ready, and Mary OBrien is coming out tomorrow to upholster. Dick continued his awesome metal work on the trailer. That guy is a sweet fabricator. Jim and Rick removed a bench from the hauler to make room for our third engine, which will go on the road with us this year. That's two aluminum engines and one magnesium. Joe worked on gearbox stuff and trailer hydraulics. Justin installed hinges on trailer storage doors, then hung the doors. Kurt installed the rear uprights. John and I installed the skid fin bracket. I installed the steering pulleys, cables, and steering shaft. Then I installed the wing pedals and cables. John and I installed the radio harness and tested all the radios- loud and clear. John Spears from Auburn Way Auto Body stopped by and picked up the new rear wing and right bullnose, which I finished body work on last night. He will paint them and bring them back for installation on Tuesday. My wife Tiffany stopped by in the afternoon to firm up travel plans (she is taking care of team travel arrangements) and brought our two girls with her. I got to show them off and Taylor (5 year old) played in the cockpit, as usual. I need to get the five liter ready for next weekend, so I am staying home tomorrow, but I will be at the shop Monday through Thursday to finish up.


Friday, June 3, 2011


We are in a thrash to get ready for Tastin’ and Racin’ in Issaquah, WA next weekend. We had a good turnout of crew last night, and we got a lot done. John O Brien, Steve, and I got the skid fin rod brackets installed with Hysol. Kurt worked on shim packs for installing the engine in the boat. Dick and Rich worked on modifying our freshly painted trailer (paint by John Spears from Auburn Way Autobody). Joe worked on gearbox and trailer hydraulics. Nate built trailer bunks. Oh yeah- we are one week away from testing and we don’t have bunks on the trailer. Oh well. A ton of work is going to happen between now and Thursday night, but we will be ready.

Tonight, we will have the foam and carpet for the bunks. I will finish sanding the new rear wing and right bull nose so they can be painted in the morning. This needs to happen quickly so I can scurry home to hang out with the kids before their bed time.

Saturday morning, we will Hysol on the main skid fin bracket, which will certainly cause three hernias among four guys (that chunk of metal is HEAVY.) Caution will be taken to ensure that the bracket is on as straight as possible, so minimal skid fin adjustment will be needed. I will install the steering cable, wing pedals and cables, and throttle and cables. More work will continue on the trailer, and hopefully be the end of the day it will be ready to accept the boat.

I’ll try to keep you up to date over the weekend, especially if something exciting happens. You never know what to expect at the U-17 shop…

Welcome to Today at the shop...

This is a new feature from Our Gang Racing's U-17 Miss RedDot Unlimited Hydroplane. Driver Kip Brown will supply updates periodically on what's happening in the shop. Stay tuned...