All these great photos are by Mark Sharley-
April 6th and 7th, 2002
The course and the race-
This Roseburg race was 7 miles each way, we did six legs per day, four in the morning, a lunch break then two in the afternoon for a total of 42 miles. It's a very fun little course, lots of big rocks, recliner sized up to sectional sized mixed up with rock ledges, great chutes and brushy corners. Real interesting geography! Highlights of the course are a high gee single boat turning channel through the rocks right at the top end, a couple of real neat tight high speed straights through the bushes and rocks and a couple of technical spots. (Read that as be on line within a few feet or hit hard things at high speed). They told me this was the mild part of the Umpqua! Great course as is, length would improve it. The original plan was to run from the Forks launch up into town to the park, but the water got too low for safety so they stopped us a bit short of town.
Good turnout on Saturday in on again - off again rain, excellent turnout on Sunday- people on both sides all the way up and back. I think they have a hit on their hands! There were food concessions at the park and a truly secure pit with stamps to get in and out but setup so people could still look at the boats and goings on at pretty close range. The local river patrols were on hand up and down the river at crucial spots and were the best setup and friendliest I've seen. The organizers hit all the marks and this race came together very well. All the little touchs showed through, like the pit setup and the t-shirt sales to spectators on the gravel bar. Well done!
Boats & places-
Unlimited had only one boat, Justin Boice's new almost-capsule boat. It has a full heavy-duty rollcage with a roof and windshield, engine cover. Thrown together the evening before, they had several problems that kept them from running- steering, valve train. The motor is a single carb monster big block. One of those mild idling torque monsters. I would guess it's over 600 cubic inchs, but I don't know for sure. We got to see him test run it, never full throttle, but it sounded like it bent a pushrod or something and they had to trailer it. Jim Fosback is part of this team and Del Ramsdell is crewchief.
Paul taking the checkered dish towel...
Denny Farster - Russian Roulette flys just right don't you think?
A-class was Paul Bagshaw 1st in his new Eagle, "Unpredictable", painted with their trademark lightning paint job, Will Chandler 2nd, with a new navigator, excellent preparation and the always impeccable "Danger Zone". Chuck Thompson took 3rd, came all the way from Idaho with dual Demon-carbed tunnel ram "Rump Shaker", also an Eagle. Glad to see Chuck back racing! Denny Farster 4th from Marysville with a new, very clean Eagle "Russian Roulette". This boat has a simple but stunning paint job. Denny had a leaky packing, couldn't get on plane the last leg and didn't find the problem until we had all left. All were running super-aggresive BBC's, don't know how much horsepower, but everyone of them was way over 100 mph. All were single carb except for Chuck's tunnel ram. All the A-boats were very closely matched, this will be a very interesting class to watch through the year, should be some good racing.
B-class: Mark Conklin and George took 1st in b-class, they just moved up from FX. They had a a b-motor being built so were running their FX motor with a few extra parts, they thought they'd just poke along, grab a few points but as it often turns out in this type of racing, they grabbed 1st. These guys were really having a ball, I mean these guys really like racing! It was a lot of fun talking to them about their runs and the boat. Dave Provost got 2nd with Straight Shot II, one of the two Wing in ground effect boats he and Bob White built. He went out late on the first day with a reduction box overheating. Dean Saxon was 3rd with Rich Boice navigating. They were gamely trying to limp through Roseburg with a hurt motor in the big Eagle- I think he was mostly there to support the race, he also has a b-motor being built. The motor he ran at Roseburg ate itself, I hope it doesn't turn out to be too expensive-
Derek Ely - Flyin'
FX-class: Derek Ely with twelve flawless runs took 1st with his new Wing In Ground Effect boat, one of two designed and built by Bob White and Dave Provost at River Wild, formerly Bob White's. It looks a heck of a lot like an unlimited hydro as it comes dancing down the river, real fast. Jim VanTress and the VanStress Express from Marysville took 2nd. It's a Kiwi hull and it's darn fast too! Jim and Derek duked it out all the way, swapped seconds per leg back and forth. 3rd place was taken by Steve Hanlin and Bob in their new 09 yet-to-be-named-boat, a 15 1/2 foot Eagle sprint like mine. They were having some handling problems, mostly how to handle a sprint boat when it decides it would rather run two feet above the river than in it. They ran it as hard as it would go the whole way, hopping and jumping! Sunday they seemed to have sorted it out a little, it spent a larger percentage of the time in the river than out, the opposite of saturday. Me and Lynn were 4th in the very dirty, half finished, Cavefish, you know, the boat with the funny headers that sounds like a dune buggy! Jack Patterson was 5th with his Bad Habit, clicked off the legs like he was driving the bus. No muss, no fuss, just drive the bus! He don't hit things, he makes good starts, he finishes every leg. Very consistent. I always get this creepy feeling that Jack is sneaking up on me, like I'll turn around and !Whoom! he'll blow by me so fast my decals fall off.
Jack Patterson - BAD HABIT
Driving with my eyes covered-
My personal performance was absolutely abysmal the first day- my navigator really earned her money and saved the day about eight times while I did little more than blow the starts, steer the boat at immovable objects and continually pick the worst line available. At one point I slid the boat sideways off of a big flat rock at about 60 mph, scared me good, but not good enough, because on the very next down leg I suddenly found myself twenty feet left of the line right in the middle of a rock garden and aimed at a twin bed sized rock. For what seemed like forever I was whipping the wheel full lock each way and alternately stomping the throttle than backing off so the little boat would turn without sticking the backend into a rock. I would no sooner narrowly avoid disaster, sluing around a big ole' fender bender with water spraying everywhere and the wheel all the way over, than I would find myself pointed precisely at another just as big. Playing it back in my head it was five full lock-full throttle swerves away from five large rocks with no more than twenty feet between each one. It would have looked like a pinball game from above. You couldn't have done it in anything BUT a sprint boat. We didn't touch a single one- I haven't a clue why not- as suddenly as the nightmare started it was over and we were in clear water below the rock patch. So what we have so far is one sideways slide off a rock, one nightmare run through a rock patch and I'm only halfway through the day. By this point Lynn had already stopped me from taking several shortcuts through impassable channels and dry river bed by lots of emphatic pointing and punches in the shoulder. Man, my shoulder is sore.
Did I mention that the bilge pump breaker kept popping out and I wouldn't notice it until we got on the beach? Did I mention that it started raining at different points on each leg and we hadn't put rain-x on our visors? How about that I forgot to disconnect the arm to the choke plate and it flipped shut and gagged the motor dead? The water leak.. the tiny gas leak.. fuel- oh yeah, and on the last down leg, right at the bottom of the run, I ran out of gas. Yup, there, I said it, I ran out of gas. The tank was dry when I put it back in the boat, so I put in two gallons to time the motor then another 19 gallons for the race. The math above on the fuel for the race distance with a safety margin is ok, but I forgot to allow for the extra fuel it would take to get the tank above it's dead empty level. That's about 2 gallons to the pickup plus 1 gallon for cornering. AND with the motor update to a ZZ4 plus the new carb which is jetted way rich out of the box, I am using more than my normal 3 miles to the gallon. Oops! Don't forget to thimk... uh, think!
So it went stumble, stumble, blah-blah and quit. Luckily we weren't pointed at anything and I had immediately started aiming for a safe line when the motor stumbled the first time. We glide to a stop right at the top of a single boat chute, brush on the right, rocks on the left and a big rock to miss at the bottom. I tried cranking it, no fire, so I shut off the ignition and popped my belts. I pulled the collapsible paddle out from under my seat and begin paddling. Lynn's collapsible paddle had uncollapsed under her seat and was stuck there, so she was over on her side wrestling with it and her harness at the same time. She was also cussing in a low monotone, almost like a chant. You would have to know my Lynn to know how unusual a situation this must be for my schoolteacher to be cussing. I almost dropped my paddle in astonishment, but Jack is about a minute behind us and we really need to either get through this channel quick or the hell over in the bushes, out of the way. Frantic paddling with one oar, about like trying to paddle a log with a two-by-four, I slipped and fell on the ignition switch, and hear the fuel pump begin running, thumpty-thumpty-thumpty. Paddle paddle paddle. Slipped again, this time I fell on the starter button- the motor cranks over and fires! Throws me on my left side against the seat, I turn right and fall the rest of the way in, stomp the gas, whip left to stay out of the bushes and at the same time Jack comes around the corner behind us, and he's moving. I keep the throttle wide open and aim for the bottom of the chute and wait for it to start stumbling again. We haul ass down through the chute and into the pool below, then slow and point Jack by us on the left. They wave and they're by. Someone looks out for drunks and fools but I'm not drunk. I followed respectfully behind Jack to the finish line and started making mental notes of what needed done on the boat. The sun peaked out for a few seconds on the drive back to the motel.
I did much better the second day after getting my head out of the up and locked position and getting some sleep. The little red boat ran for all she was worth and I managed to put together six solid runs, but the guy with the wrenches needs to give her a bit of help in chasing the other boats, we are are out run and I can't make it up by driving. I've got some time to tune and tweak the hull and pump thanks to the staggered weekends that Dave Provost had the good sense to set up.The headers got a lot of attention and worked great, nothing fell off in the river! The sound just goes right through you, very different, I like it a lot. No exaggeration, I must have talked to fifty people about them. One person wanted to buy them! Told him I would be ashamed to sell them they were done wrong and the welds are crappy, but would be glad to help him build his own NICE set, avoiding making all the mistakes that were in these. The sound had people coming to the pits both days to check out the funny red boat with the 6 cylinder. Most of the racers came and looked at them at one time or another. Some of the comments on what they sound like: a hopped up Merc v-6, a very distant lawnmower mowing?, like I was turning it up to about 8,000 rpm, a dune buggy, and many others. Anything but a slow turning V-8!
We had a GREAT time, a lot of chuckles and it was real good to see everybody again. The awards ceremony brought it all back to me, I realized I had forgotten how much I enjoy racing and how much I had missed it after taking most of last year off.