Colusa 2000 - "slot car racing in boats??"

    The boat show for the Colusa race was set for Sunday at 7 pm at the Colusa Fairgrounds. The Marysville race finished up about 5 pm so we had just enough time to get back to the motel, shower and change, grab the Armorall and rags and get to Colusa by 7. Barely. The rush was eased a little by somebody having sent the portable Union 76 gas station to the same place so we could refuel for practicing/tuning the next day (Monday) and racing the day after. Thank you for that bit of foresight whoever you were. The gas for us was still $4 a gallon. Another BBQ, this one in a wall-less pole barn complete with black visquene plastic table clothes and sawdust floor to add a little atmosphere. Have I mentioned the BBQ at the Crows Nest in Marysville on Thursday evening that coincided with the boat show/tech inspection??? It appears that somebody thinks boatracers are BIG on BBQ. Each of the BBQs was $12.  This one smelled very good and considering that many of  us hadn't had time to stop and eat, not to mention that few of us had gotten lunch and then only through Cindy's good sense, the cook was lucky that we weren't grabbing stuff off the grill and out of the cooler. It WAS delicious, by the way, and was a pretty good end to a very long, hot, day.  Little did I know that fate was preparing me for my appointment with the park nazis the next day.

    Practicing was allowed on the Sacramento in the area from the State Park boat ramp down river to the bridge. Times were from 10 am to 4 pm if I remember correctly. No muss, no fuss, go to the park at 10, run the boat a little to see if everything was still OK, make a few GPS runs for best trim and go back to the Fireside and sit in the pool. Easy day. HAH!

    We got to the park at a few minutes to 10, Lynn launched me. I pulled the boat off to the side and put on my life jacket over my street clothes, got the helmet handy, let's go! Oops- this is an official practice, I need to have ALL of the safety gear, including the race suits Del kindly told us as he climbed into the race official boat. I knew that! (no I didn't!) No problem except that I had my shirt but it seems I didn't bring the pants of my racesuit, they are hanging in the shower in our room in Yuba City, drying out. I gotta test so I borrowed Lynn's pants and she sat on the beach. Lynn is very petite, about a size 3, and I wear 34/32 in Levi's. Her pant's were VERY tight and VERY short but I was able to get them zipped and snapped, thank goodness for Lycra or Spandex or whatever the hell is in the waistbands of those things. They are tight, and really short, but I just need to make a couple of runs so away I went with quite a bit of wiggling around in my seat. The boat trimmed out fine, I knew where the fast notch was on the Diverter control and I even attracted a few spectators. Back to the ramp and back on the trailer and Joel Shepard pulled me out of the water. Off with the pants before my legs turned blue and fell off.

   We drove out of the park and went to a neat little burger place called Rick's and had lucnch then headed back to the park to watch the other boats that had pulled in do their practice runs.

    The Colusa race was 3 1/2 laps of 4.9 miles. I was having a dense day and had to ask twice for clarification, but I finally got it. The course included lots of nice tight corners (my personal favorite), snags, a rock or two, a really cool channel just big enough for 1 1/2 boats, and a great 180 just past the bridge down river. Neat! We were going two at a time in four flights of ten boats and one flight of one boat, so if you weren't racing you got sit in the very nice COUNTY park (for free) by the river and watch the other teams race. There was time to watch about 8 races before we had to head for Ward's Landing and launch. One of the pairs was Hugh and Ryan McGinnis in the c-class #00 boat going against the Jokers b-class boat #110. As expected the Jokers higher top end had them way past Hugh by the next time they came around, as it was supposed to be. It became obvious right away that Hugh is a phenomenal driver. #00 Dream Chaser is a c-class boat optimized for speed. It was built by Wayne and Scott Adams to be fast and it is very FAST. It's a very shallow deadrise v-hull, has a radiused delta  pad, and not a whole lot of strakes.  The cost for that speed is that it doesn't handle to well, read that as "doesn't corner as well as the other c-boats". It appears to also be hard to get it planted again when going from slow to fast. Didn't matter to Hugh, he somehow warped that little boat around the corner I could see as fast or faster than I could in my sprint boat. Simply amazing. I really enjoyed watching them race.

    By now the noise had pulled a lot of people over to the park. Right next to us was the third grade class from the local elementary school. Their teacher said there was no way she was going to keep their attention with the noise on the river so they made a field trip out of it! Those kids had a great time. The teacher had been sneaking in a little learning too, getting the class talking about New Zealand and Canada. One of the guys (Neil Ross) from the Karawau team #207 , came over and very patiently sat on his knees and talked to the kids  for 45 minutes or so, answered their questions and gave them a few things to think about. Real nice guy, thank you very much for taking the time. They gave the kids team posters and I am sure those third graders will remember that day for the rest of their lives.

    We (#16) raced Sam Waller and Rob (#69) in Ms. Cheryl. We came off the line exactly together and stayed that way all the way to the 1 1/2 boat width channel. Sam was ahead a bit so I  waved him GO and backed off a bit and zipped into the channel right behind them. We got a real wash down and I had to keep ducking out into the bushes so I could look past Sam and see what was coming up. When we got to the far end of the channel where there was some room I jumped his wake (Wahoo!) and went wide and outside of him.That lined me up perfectly for a whole bunch of snags so we spent the next quarter of a mile jumping back and forth over his wake, getting hosed and looking for snags and the next corner.

    Past the start/finish line and it was a straight run down to the turn buoy. I ran up as close as I could but back enough so that when we got to the buoy I could pull it in tight without actually passing him while he was on the buoy. I had noticed that his boat wasn't cornering well after the lump from Marysville and assumed he would take it easy at the buoy. I left enough room that in case he DID go inside and tried to turn hard and lost it, I could got off straight and not hit him. At the bouy Sam slowed and did a long parabolic around it and I was right there starting my turn as he was coming off the buoy. I was able to drop the diverter and do a patented hi-gee turn and stay inside and keep enough momentum up to pull about half a boat length ahead while he was still getting back up to speed. His boat is almost exactly as fast as mine and Sam drives it damn hard and if his hull wouldn't have been tweaked I NEVER could have done it. We stayed stuck right there up past the start/finish line and two corners beyond then suddenly Sam dived off to the right. I looked and saw he was headed for a buoy way, way off the line! Aw shit! I blew a buoy. Damn damn damn. Sam's diving for the buoy put me about a boat length ahead at the channel so I went in first. I was cussing myself out, very disappointed and almost just pulled over at the end of the channel. Lynn knew what I was thinking and hit me and pointed forward emphatically-GO! So I did. I ran the little boat the rest of the legs as hard as I could make it go, but I was sure I had blown it. In one of the races I had watched earlier I had watched a b-boat overcook the corner before the finish line and slide way wide of the buoys. I now knew what it felt like.

    We finished the run and motored back to Ward's Landing. Mike Messick had our truck backed down and I made a mess of putting the boat on the trailer, filled the reverse gate up with sand and generally made an ass of myself with what is a pretty simple operation. I felt pretty bad and didn't have much to say except thanks, see you in Grants Pass. Sorry guys, I just was very disappointed with myself.

    We went back up to Colusa and parked in the shade. Lynn stayed in the truck and read. I walked over to the river and watched a few more runs. By then, the little park was full of people that had walked over from their homes to see what all the noise on the river was. I got talking to three guys that were enjoying the races and that made me feel better, seeing someone enjoying the boats. I really love the sport and get a kick out of other people enjoying it too.

    It was getting real hot so we headed out, heading for Mt. Shasta. Lynn had found a nice motel there and even had a coupon! It would be nice to get back to mountains after a week in that hot valley. I needed a vacation, even a little one.