Albany 2004
River Gone Wild II (Son of River Gone Wild)

Scott Adams and Brad McMaster 155 "That Real Purdy Boat"

Morgan Heuberger and Jason Mouser teamed up to race our Kwik Kraft, Raven #16X. Morgan is my friend and crewchief, Bob McKellar’s son-in-law. Jason is my navigator, Lynn Mouser’s, son. They are both lighter than we are and even more important they actually LOOK like real jetboat racers. Morgan, his father-in-law Bob McKellar and his brother-in-law Doug McKellar helped me rebuild Thunderbolt. We spent many enjoyable hours dreaming, bending, banging, tweaking and welding on the boat in their garage this last winter.

Lynn and I are racing Thunderbolt #16 of course. Really like that little boat. We are towing Thunderbolt north. Jackie Heuberger, who is Bob’s daughter and is also Morgan’s 8 months pregnant wife, is towing Raven north. Jackie’s mom, Alicia McKellar and three dogs named Rowdy, B.J. and Pinkie are also riding along. Morgan is flying into Portland from LA and Jason is driving over the mountains from Bend with his wife Candi and Lynn’s granddaughter, Haleigh. Is this getting confusing enough? I am confused so I guess it is.

Everybody showed up at the right places at the right time with the right stuff, so if you were getting an anxiety attack from all the motion so far you can relax. Just thought a little detail would be nice. Used to be we’d just throw the jackets, helmets and a couple of suitcases in the boat and haul ass for the race.

Our trip to Albany

This is the busy time of year in my business, and my boss and his wife were in Florida recovering their place there from hurricane Charley. I was doing a lot of last minute things like messing up the payroll, putting deposits in the bank, trying to make sure there was enough change on hand, passing out phone numbers and instructions, arranging for the cats to be fed, etc. Etc. Etc.

We couldn’t leave until about 9 am Friday and I had to get to Albany in time to pre-run and also make tech and the boat show at 5 PM. Pre-run means I had to talk someone into taking another chance on me and Lynn and give us a ride in their boat up the river. We have less than a sterling record on pre-runs. Something weird always seems to happen. And you know what, I am never driving when weird stuff starts happening, except once. Sounds like an excuse, eh?

We made it to Albany around 2:30 PM, stopped by the Phoenix Inn just long enough to check in, but not drop off our suitcases, then headed for Bowman Park. I had barely gotten out of the truck and we had an offer from Paul Bagshaw and Dan Mahoney to look at the river with them in Dave Provost’s beautifully rebuilt 19 foot Outlaw. Dave had beautifully rebuilt it after we had been given a pre-run ride in it with him and Toby Smith at Riggin’s and had an out-of-limits excursion with a rock. Ahem. The boat is a work of art, very nice paint, and very nice interior. It’s got a 460 Ford in it. Dave added a pair of nifty swim platforms on the back and a clever hatch arrangement. It’s a real beauty. It’s for sale too, by the way.

Pre-run fun

The Willamette at Albany is the quisessential river to take ride up on a sunny summer afternoon. We rode and BSed about racing and looked at the river and plotted lines. Paul, being the fastest one in the boat, drove. Up to the top, take a look at Michael’s Landing, spin her around and back down river. No surprises, this particular river is all about good lines, energy conservation in corners and hunting for shallow spots.

We met Paul Luhrs, Morgan Heuberger and Jason Mouser on their way up river. We met them just as we emerged out of the only silly spot on the river, one of those neat channels that will just lose you time in a race but are fun to run just to look at.

Every river has one, the Yuba has one just above Tiki Beach, the Klamath has one at the Glen, the lower Rogue has one just past the Landing (but it’s un-runnable if you have a hang-up about sliding your boat through gravel). The one on the Albany is a bit longer than just staying out in the main channel and has a log sticking up at about 20 degrees in the middle of a corner. Cool to run but not a real fast way to go.

We tried to talk Paul Luhrs into running it, but being more sensible than we are he declined at that time. Paul Bagshaw ran us back up the side channel then back down the main channel past Paul, Morgan and Jason. Apparently driving around with a couple of racers like Morgan and Jason caused Paul Luhrs sensibility to decline a couple of points and he took a shot at it on the way back down. One of the really fun things about running jetboats is challenging yourself to do things with them you aren’t too comfortable doing. When you are hearing tick-tick-tick or mud is shooting out the pump, you are right there! Hope that makes some kind of sense.

Still heading downriver- a bit past where we met Paul Luhrs, and probably 4 miles from Bowman Park the motor hicks and ups a couple of times.

Paul Bagshaw says “ Well, that’s not sounding too good.”

“Hick” says the motor.

“Up” it says.

We’re running out of gas.

Before the motor sucks up a bunch of crap out of the tank or runs the tank completely dry, Paul shuts it down. He grabs his cell phone and calls Dave.

“Hi Dave. We’re floating down the river in your boat.” Paul says. That got me chuckling.

Couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation but I am sure Dave said right away “Did you guys wreck my boat already!?”

“Dave, your boat won’t run. It has no gas Dave. It’s a hell of a thing. Why would you send me up the river in a boat with no gas?” Paul says, making it sound like Dave had done it to him on purpose somehow, but he couldn’t quite make himself believe it.

I am cracking up laughing by now, Paul is just funny as hell sometimes.

Lynn starts checking the boat for essentials. “There’s a paddle this time!” she reports happily. “But only one. And no rope.” less happily.

Dan, being practical about all things, pulls the hatch up and looks at the semi-clear plastic tank to make sure it really is out of gas. “No, not a hell of a lot of gas in there.” he says “we need gas.”

Paul says into the phone, “Dave- Dave we need gas. Dave, can you get us some gas? And some beer? I’m thirsty.” I am really laughing now.

“Thanks Dave. I love you, Dave.” Paul says and shuts the phone off.

“Well guess what, Gary Labrum is bringing us up some gas in my old race boat. Never had that happen before, someone bringing me gas with a race boat. MY old race boat too.” Paul told us.

Gary and Duane Labrum are really good guys. Not just because they are bringing us gas, either. They are clever, competent racers, determined and are having a lot of fun at it. It’s a contagious thing when you are around people like that.

We float a ways. I am looking downriver for what we might float into and spot a bush about a quarter mile away and make a mental note to keep an eye on it.

Adam Steele happens upon us in his 19-foot step-tech. It’s the white one with orange flames. He’s from the area and was down at the ramp to give rides but had alternator problems he had to fix, so now he’s up river by himself just cruising around. He floats along with us for awhile in case we get in trouble while we wait for Gary to bring us gas. We talk about old races, the river, boats of course, beer, and stuff like that. I check the bush, we aren’t too close yet.

A couple of River Deputies stop by on their way up to see if everything’s ok. Thanks guys, we are just waiting for the gas boat to show up and enjoying the afternoon on the river. Away they go.

Adam is still hanging with us. I check the bush again. We don’t appear to be getting any closer to it. WAH? It’s a FLOATING bush. It’s going downriver the same speed we are. Goofy old guy. (me)

The Deputies stop by again on their way back down. Their boat is an open sled with a small block in it. Moves pretty good for all of that.

Here comes Gary with the ex-Unpredictable, now #163 Pac-O-fier. Gary formates on us and we all get into passing the gas. From one boat to the other. Dan fuels us up. Ron Pabst comes by about then, and we passed more gas. At this point we gots lots of gas. It IS odd to be getting gas from a race boat. It is way more usual for it to be the other way around. The ratio by my count in 8 years is about 50 to 1. Fifty race boats refueled from civilian boats, one civilian boat refueled from a race boat. Also, the former owner of the race boat is the one receiving the gas. My head is starting to hurt, this is way too Zen for me.

Well, that was our pre-run adventure at Albany. Lynn says she would be disappointed if we didn’t have some kind of adventure on the pre-run. Myself, I am hoping for no more adventures or we are are going to end up pre-running rivers in a blow up boat with paddles!

The ride back was uneventful, except for aiming for the wrong trailer. It was an entertaining and satisfying afternoon on the river with my friends, in the best of company, a preview of a good weekend. We hauled out and headed for tech and the boat show.

Tech & car/boat show

The Safeway and G.I. Joes in Albany hosted the car show, boat show and tech in at their parking lot, as they did last year. The featured highlights of the show were live music, some not so live music, T-shirt sales, raffles and food sales not to mention a LOT of amazing cars and race boats. Dave Provost, Paul Bagshaw and Lynn Mouser handled the sign-up booth, with Judy Bagshaw kibitzing from behind while hoisting Cody-monster up were he could see what was going on.

I was out in the parking lot crawling all over everyone’s boat counting paddles and jackets and at the same time discovering what a truly inventive bunch of minds we have at work attaching medical kits and tool boxes in clever places. I blew it again (of course) and did not even think to check the big one, exhaust silencer systems.

At this point I have to put in an AWJA public service announcement here and say when you are putting together next years rig, please allow for and be courteously forewarned, next year we will be inspecting for legal silencer systems at every race.  Da roos is da roos.

Greg and Kristina Hegemier got in from Chico, dropped the boat at the show and headed for the river for an evening preview with Paul Luhrs.  Merv and Poppy George and crew pulled in too, with maybe 15 minutes runtime on their freshened up motor. They would go check the river VERY early in the morning at sunup, Merv’s most favorite time of the day.

Anyway, I got the inspections done and just sat on the tailgate and looked at boats and cars and watched the crowds. Saw a few very nice 66 and 67 SS 396 Chevelles- my favorite muscle car. It was a nice warm day, but not too hot. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the evening.

I was privileged to get a chance to meet Doug Thompson who took a short 400 mile jaunt away from a meeting he was attending in Seattle to come by to say hi. A pleasure to meet you Doug! Hope to be up racing next year and meet the rest of you guys I have talked to on the Eagle forum, that is if you haven’t all left for Mexico or the Amazon or something! I am beginning to believe distance means absolutely nothing to Canadian boat racers.

Everyone was signed up and it was getting on towards dusk, so it was time to drag the boats through the cruise. Lynn rode in the boat and had fun cranking the motor up and revving it for the crowds. This got the other cars revving their motors also. It got loud for a while there. Lots of spectators lining the streets downtown, I should have at least washed the truck.

Saturday Racing

Paul Bagshaw and Brodie Miller #277 "Unpredictable"

The roster:

A-class
277 "Unpredictable" Paul Bagshaw and Brodie Miller

B-class
188 "White Lightning" Steve Hanlin and the irrepressible Steve Davis - Medford, Oregon
163 "Pac-O-fier" Duane Labrum and Gary Labrum - Southern Idaho (Boise)
155 "That Real Purdy Boat" Scott Adams and Brad McMaster - Salem, Oregon
177 "Exhibitionist" Seth Bogner and Mitch Gomes - Glide, Oregon
182 "Risky Business" Dave Provost and Ron ????  - Grants Pass, Oregon
244b "Liquifire" Dwain Longfellow and Gary Longfellow - Northern Idaho (Lewiston)

#244 "Liqui-Fire" Dwain Longfellow

BBFX class
70 "" Dean Saxon and Rich Boice- Grants Pass, Oregon

SBFX class
07 "Gone in Seven Seconds" Greg Hegemier and Kristina Hegemier - Chico, California
13 "Yellowhammer" Merv George and Poppy George - Hoopa, California
22 "Purple Top" Gary Weaver and Dustin Rasched -  Albany, Oregon
16x "Raven" Morgan Heuberger and Jason Mouser - Klamath, California and Bend, Oregon
26 "Bad Habit" Jack Patterson and Jim Fosback - Grants Pass and Roseburg, Oregon
16 "Thunderbolt" Jesse LaForest and Lynn Mouser - Klamath, California


GREAT photo of Thunderbolt courtesy of Gary Graham- Thanks Gary!
 

The pit meeting was at 7:30, it was cloudy and humid, not too warm yet. Good for motors! The turnout was thirteen boats ready to race. We were to start at thirty second intervals for the 13 or so mile run to the outskirts of Corvallis. The fast boats would be doing it in 7 minutes and change!

We started third in our class and could see the roosters of the two boats in front of us all the way. I didn't think I was catching them, but they didn't appear to be getting away from us either. Their wakes were still rebounding off the banks as we came to them, we tried riding up on top of them as much as we could, looking for a little extra speed, but it did not make any difference according to the GPS.

Same story on the run down, saw roosters all the way. One chute that was a straight shot on the way up required a hard right turn on the way down to miss the rock pile in the middle of two channels. On Dave's advice I tried chopping the throttle for just an eyeblink, then punch it again to get it to turn harder. That worked good with this hull, the boat does this sideways lurch and then turns in super hard, but it caught Lynn totally unawares and I saw her grabbing for handholds out of the corner of my eye. Oops.

Another run up, waving waving waving at people along the way. Turn around and head back down again- Gary Weaver #22 "Purple Top" was broke down and I think Steve Hanlin #188 "White Lightning" was broke down too on this run.

The Boy's and Girl's club had lunch for us at the park. They were selling hotdogs, hamburgers, nachos etc. They even had Snow Cones! We towed to the 76 station for some more fuel to complete the last two legs.

We launched out for the up run, but on this this run Merv's rooster kept getting closer and closer. Came around a corner and there was Merv and Poppy George, #13 "Yellowhammer", smoke coming up off the motor, chugging towards the beach off plane. Something serious or they would not have even slowed down. I talked to Merv later and he said he got his shoulder punched a few times by Poppy, she saying go! go! and he saying I can't, I can't- the motor is dying! I know what it's like buddy, you might want to put in a memory tach and just switch to the high reading when things start to go bad. That and maybe some of that old football gear from high school. I can see that these two are going to be a tough pair to beat in the races ahead. On the run down we saw Merv and Poppy parked just down the bank from Scott Adams and Brad McMaster #155 "RPB" who had also had problems on their down run.

Doug Thompson, Poppy George and Merv George at the pits.

Greg and Kristine Hegemeir #07 "Wide Open" are another pair that is going to be stiff competition. After the last down run they spent a solid couple of hours swapping nozzles and wedges and testing, testing, testing looking for more speed. I was quite tickled to see Kristine spinning wrenchs on the nozzle swaps, can't tell you how cool I think that is. They, like Merv and Poppy, are VERY serious competitors. I think thats good. Good for the class, good for the sport and good for me and Lynn.

Greg and Kristine Hegemeir

Gary was trying to soldier on with Purple Top, but the hardware was not co-operating. Out with a sick motor. Merv and Poppy were out too, probably a piston with a hole in it. (#6)

Jack Patterson #26 "Bad Habit" with Jim Fosback navigating was doing his flawless, no fuss, just drive the bus, runs. This boat and driver really needs a 502 to shine! BBFX is calling....

Stalking all of us was Morgan Heuberger and Jason Mouser in #16x "Raven". I think Raven was probably running faster than it ever has in it's life. Two of the smallest racers in the biggest boat. There is a lesson in there somewhere. Those two guys were having a blast, nothing but smiles- good to see!

Scott Adams Inc. was thrashing the  #155 "RPB" back into shape. They were working two problems, a timing cover seal that had sucked into the case and a gone thrust bearing on the pump.

The #244 "Liqui-Fire" team had been through every possible thing they could think of or invent on the spot trying to cure an intermittant miss. Carbs, emulsion tubes, jets, distributors (mags), valve spring pressures, etc. etc. etc.  8-cylinders for awhile, then 7, then back to 8 then back to 7 for a long while. Nothing helped for long. That evening the last thing I heard was that they were hanging it up. A long way to drive, all the way from Lewiston Idaho, for half a race!

The other half of the Idaho Delegation, Duane and Gary Labrum, #163 "Pac-o-fier" were having a great time! They weren't fast for a B-boat, they are only running a warmed over ZZ430, but they were really enjoying the day and the racing.

Seth Bogner and Mitch Gomes #177 "Exhibitionist", also running a stand in motor, were clicking off the legs. Didn't see much of them except at the starts, they were laying low for some unknown reason. Unusual behavior for our most flamboyant racers and the winners of the first Albany Cup!

Dave Provost had the flagship wing boat, #182 "Risky Business" absolutely dialed in. They were smoking fast, faster than everybody. Sorry Paul.

Long day for us, Lynn and I were fairly well thrashed. We fueled Thunderbolt and went back to the motel around 7:30. Merv's crewchief who is also Horse's dad, Ben, was sleeping in the back of the truck guarding the boats. Thanks Ben, and I hope you didn't get wet.

We had left the room keys IN the room, so I collapsed on the floor in front of the room with our gear and Lynn went to get another key from the front desk. After she let me in, Lynn went exploring. She got a look at the pool, the hot tub, a race video, visited with Paul and Judy, Jim and Michelle Ely and their boys. I snored. In the morning I noticed that the room was really nice. Leather couch, fridge, shampoo dispenser in the shower, well layed out. Lynn rates these as the nicest rooms we had all year.

It had rained that night, lots of it. Felt good in the morning, looked like it was going to be pretty much overcast at least for the morning runs. Good for motors!