Thursday, July 21, 2011


I have not written for a while because I have not been at the shop in a while. I missed Detroit so I could race our 5 liter and Mack Elliot’s National Mod at Black Lake. Cal Phipps drove a great race for us at the Gold Cup, and we came out of that event with the points lead, which is a first for our team.

Usually, Black Lake is fun. That’s why I have missed the Gold Cup the last couple years. This year, it was awful. On the second heat of the day of Saturday’s racing, Ryan Butler crashed his Super Stock and was killed. Those of you who did not know Ryan were deprived. He was one of the most gifted fabricators of our time. He was soft spoken and was the consummate sportsman. He was also a talented driver, and he has been a friend for several years. My heart aches for his companion, Cara, and for his family and other friends. John O Brien, Nate, and I are attending his memorial tonight at the Hydro and Race Boat Museum, where a standing room only crowd of over 600 is expected. I have been trying to keep my brain active for the past couple weeks, as when things slow down all I can see in my mind’s eye is that horrible scene. I have lost two friends racing this year, and I am struggling mightily with that.

The APBA Summer Nationals was last weekend in Waterford, Michigan on Pontiac Lake. It was a cool even with hot weather. I think there were 16 five liters there, and Jeff and I finished third, which was OK. Wally Johston won his first ever Nationals after 32 years! Kent Henderson (Bert’s brother) won 2.5 stock and JP Squires finished second. That was cool. Everbody’s favorite driver, Cal Phipps, won the title in Grand National Hydro. There were no accidents and some great racing.

The U-17 came back from Detroit in pretty good shape. Cal punched the dock (rookie) and put a golf ball sized hole in the right sponson deck. I fixed it on Tuesday, and patched a bunch of other little spots that will be ready this weekend for paint. Our plumber, Joe Yandell, is working on some secret squirrel stuff that I could tell you about, but then I’d have to kill you. The gear box is loaded with the correct pack and installed.

Tiffany has a shopping list about a mile long for Tri Cities. We are gonna eat GOOD there. Plus, Cal is not coming, so there will be enough to go around. Nate will be back on the radio, telling me for the ten thousandth time to “look for clean water.”

I am stoked to get back in the boat. My goals leading into the season were to get some heat wins and hopefully podium at a race. DONE AND DONE at the first event. Now, after the strong showing at Detroit we are all looking for continued success next week. The confidence that our boat has given me is astounding. I am thinking about strategies that I have never allowed myself to consider before, due to the fact that our boat handling was so unpredictable. Now, we are getting into the fun part of the season, with great courses at Tri Cities and Seattle. Now we need to show that the success is not a fluke…

Kip Brown

Thursday, July 7, 2011


You know, I still have some spring in my step from Madison. We have been working on, nay, FLOGGING, this boat since its inception, and to have the kind of weekend that we just had made it worth it. I am SO proud of my guys, both the crew that came to Madison, and also the guys that did not make it. Most of them will be at Detroit to help push Cal Phipps (driving this weekend) to another great finish.

The outpouring of support for our team has been phenomenal. My Facebook has been blowing up with folks backing us. I would like to thank all of them for their kind words. Strangely, several of the people are Madison locals who are Oberto fans, but disagree with the decision made by the H1 officials. Well, here are my thoughts: There are rules in our rule book that state we should be the winner. There are rules that state that the U-1 should be the winner. There are even rules that state, arguably, that the U-96 should be the winner. The officials made a decision that the U-1 won their home town race. I support that decision. I want to win my first race on the race course. Now, if they immediately called the U-17 in first place, I would have made sure that Steve and Super Dave were OK, and then I would have jumped up and down on the cowling and had my crew up on the boat for a party. That's how I picture my first win. I will never forget when my father in law, Terry Troxell, won the Tri Cities Columbia Cup. He did donuts out in the water with his boat. When Jeff Bernard (my brother in law) won Madison, he hopped on the cowling and pointed at the heavens. I want a moment like that. I want to EARN it, not have it given to us. And I am confident it is coming. Just wait and see....

By the way, I have a crew guy from Chicago named Spider. Michael Jackson is his real name. 'Nuff said about the use of a nickname. He is a stud. He is 6 foot 4 or 5, 240 pounds, plays hockey, and can reach things on any shelf you throw at him. He used to crew with my buddy Matty Gregory on the U-10, and was a crew guy for Mike Weber on his GP back in the day. Most of you know Ginger, who is Spider's sister. When Nate won the Gold Cup with the U-10, Spider was on the crew. Spider has been working with us for the past few years and I have gotten really close to him. And I am not a big spider fan. But I AM a big Spider fan. Know what I mean? One of the coolest things about our sport is the relationships that form because of it. Well, I can truly say that Spider is one of my best friends, and if it weren't for this sled that we call a race boat, I would never have met him. Also, the experience and expertise that he brings to our team makes me feel incredibly fortunate to have him. Have a good day, Bug!

Kip Brown

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Man, you would have to bring some serious heat to wipe the smile off of my face.

Let me catch you up. The week before Madison was insane. I was thrashing to get the E-55 rebuild and at least ready for body work so my guys could finish the paint while Jeff and I were in Madison. That was all handled beautifully. Jimmy LaBrie came to my house and knocked out the lion’s share of the bodywork, then Brian Hajne and Monkey knocked out the rest over the weekend at Hajne’s. I can’t thank them enough.

The truck ran great all the way to Madison , with no drama. We flew in on a red-eye Wednesday night and rolled into the pits at about ten in the morning. We hung the fin, installed the rear wing, and got the engine bay ready for the engine, to be installed Friday AM (no crane operators on Thursday.) We went to be early on Thursday night and went to the pits at 6:30 Friday AM.

Friday morning the Red Dot guys and gals were working like a clock. The deck boys had the engine in and fired early. Tiffany had the refreshments, uh, refreshing in a big way. Ginger and O Brien handled the cockpit. Cal (Don’t Call Me Phipps) Phipps took care of the stand up comedy. He had me in stitches all weekend long. We got in for the first test session, and the boat handled great, but speed was down considerably compared to some other teams. We checked the vitals and made an adjustment, and went out for the next session. Speed was up, and the handling stayed good. Qualifying was awesome. We clicked off a 138 and change, and set the bar pretty high. Only the Oberto and Qatar boats ran faster, which we were pretty proud of. Friday night everyone was in good spirits.

Saturday morning I tested a new propeller and liked it, after some nasty fog rolled out and debris was picked up on the course. After that, Cal got in the boat and hooted and hollered into the radio (something about how he liked the boat.) We drew a pretty soft heat in the first flight, and I got a good start and was never challenged. That led to my first Unlimited heat victory, which was pretty sweet. Cal was great on the radio, and the crew all did a great job having the boat ready to rock. Saturday night we all got together at Shooters Sports Bar and had dinner. Shooters took care of us all weekend, delivering lunch to the pits every day. We had the best spread of any team. Thanks to Tiffany for arranging that!

Sunday morning it was hot. I mean hot. Not that it wasn’t hot the other days. but this was like burn your knee on the deck hot. We drew a heat with the U-100, driven by my buddy Greg Hopp. Now, Greg and I like each other, but typically when we race, one of us gets a penalty against the other. Not this time! I beat Greg to the line and drove away. The Red Dot boat was MOVING last weekend! So, three years without a heat win, and we are two-for-two at Madison!

We had another great draw for 3C, but never got a chance to run it. Another racer missed a bouy in turn 1 and looped around to pick it up, but struck a rescue boat and critically injured one of its passengers. Last reports are still critical, but stable. Two others were badly injured. The rest of the third section was cancelled, and the rest of the event was almost cancelled. The race committee decided to run a final heat with four on the front line and one trailer. The front line consisted of the U-96 Spirit of Qatar with Super Dave Villwock driving, U-1 Oh Boy Oberto with Steve David behind the wheel, the U-7 Miss Valcon with rookie Scott Liddycoat, and our U-17 Miss Red Dot. The trailer boat was Jeff Bernard in the U-5 Miss Graham Trucking, who was winning his third heat when it was stopped.

I secured lane three beside Super Dave, with Steve in lane one. Why? Because Cal, Nate, and I figured that the 1 and the 96 might take each other out. What happened? At the start of lap 4, half-way through the turn, Super Dave hooked his boat into Steve’s lane and the Oberto ran over the Spirit of Qatar. Both boats were badly damaged, and thankfully both drivers walked away. Steve has some rib damage and will not be driving this weekend in Detroit. At first, rumors were that we would be awarded the victory, but ultimately the U-1 won their hometown race. Either way, it was all gravy for us. Our team had BY FAR the best weekend of our existence, and we are totally amped for the next race. Cal will be driving while I play with the E-55 and NM-1 at Black Lake in Olympia. I have nothing but faith in him and feel that we are one of the favorites going into the weekend. I absolutely cannot WAIT to get back in the boat at Tri Cities and go rip around the big course there.

Huge thanks go to Kelly Stocklin from Sammamish, WA. Kelly worked some magic on our skid fin and I feel that it made a huge difference in the way our boat handles, and I credit those changes for a lot of the success we had over the weekend.