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.