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…