Trinity River Thunder 2004
May 14th-15th-16th, 2004


A little background about Hoopa:
Hoopa is the center of a beautiful valley that is wrapped around the Trinity river and tucked away between Willow Creek and Weitchpec on highway 96. The Trinity river and the valley are also the the center of the Hupa People's world and has been continually inhabited by them for many thousands of years. In a lot of ways you could say that the valley is the people and the people are the valley. One of the distinctions the Hoopa Tribe has made for themselves is that in 1998, they put together a comprehensive framework that established commerce regulations, business licenses, corporate law and much more to "increase the comfort level" for conducting business on tribal land by both tribal and non tribal people. This is a first as far as I know and to me indicates a people with a real vision of where they are going. I discovered this and more by searching for "Hupa" and "Hoopa". Take a look with Google.

What has this got to do with boat racing? Well, the race sure came off well, didn't it? Usually indicates a lot of motivated people working very hard and watching the details. Virtually everybody I met in Hoopa was pleased that we were there racing. It felt like home. I see nothing but good things ahead in Hoopa.

Rolling Stock
Thursday evening, Lynn and I pulled John & Debbie Thompsons Sprint to Hoopa to preview the river with friday. We had run it the previous saturday and it was great then, but the Bureau of Reclamation was releasing good flows into the Trinity and the river was on it's way up. Jason, Lynn's son, was bringing the race boat over on friday while we were looking at the river and he would drag the sprint boat back to Klamath when we were done. Boats going every which way!

We pulled into the Tsewenaldin Inn about 7:30 in the evening. The inn is right next to the river, Ray's Food Mart and the Lucky Bear Casino. Parked in Ray's parking lot with their now trademark flagpoles up was Denny and Nancy Longfellow's fifth wheel. They were flying an American flag and an Idaho state flag. Oh yeah, they were also flying a wind sock dealie too. He had maneuvered the fifth wheel so that the parking lot light shone on the flags. Looked cool. Denny says he is also getting a Liquifire flag made to go up the pole also. Just in case you didn't know, Denny's more formal name is "His Honor, Mayor of Black Hawk and all that He Surveys". He is not a stickler about it though, "Denny, have a beer" will do just fine for most occasions.

Jack Patterson was already there with his son Gabe and #26 Bad Habit. Dwain and Gary Longfellow pulled up towing # B-244 Liquifire after a long, long day of driving all the way from Idaho. They were laughing as they kind of fell out of the truck. I think they were a little bit road happy. Dan pulled in with #277 Unpredictable on his pickup followed closely by the #277 Road Toaster with Paul, Rob and Jerry. I am waiting for them to monster garage it and maybe add an engine crane and a spare engine compartment. Or a cantaloupe launcher. It's one of those rigs that is such a bomb that it's just cool. I like it Gordy!

Pre-run 101
Dwain, Gary, Lynn and I headed out to pre-run the river sort of late, but the race was scheduled to start at 1:00 pm so the light on the river would be similar to race conditions. Lots of great river to see. We have never looked at a river as closely as we did with Dwain and Gary. Those guys REALLY check out a river. It was a real education for me, old one line Johnny! Definitely changed my way of looking at possibles for lines.

On the last look at the bottom section, we stopped to check out a chute through some bushes. Soon as we got beached, we heard more pre-run boats coming up the river. Hoping to mislead them I jumped out and made like I was peeing in the bushes, but I doubt they bought it. After the other boats cruised by we ran the chute a couple of times and later that evening Merv told me one of his spies had seen us! So much for for the secret chute!

The lower part of the river from the start in the middle of the course to the bottom finish line is a series of riffles on corners. Actually the whole course is mostly corners with just a few straights mixed in. I saw rocks, but at the the level the Trinity was at they were not a problem. I am sure that with low water levels, the Trinity becomes much more technical and obstacle strewn. The upper part, from the center start line to the top finish line, runs next to rock bluffs and the corners are even sharper. The river is also climbing more through this part so it is narrower and the current is higher. Made for two slightly different sections and a very cool race course. The run through town and the standing rollers at the bridge and just above kind of delineated the two sections.

The Foxhole: Calcutta by Mike
Merv and Wendy seem to have this ability to find just the right person for each job- for the Calcutta auctioneer and the announcer/interviewer at the race start line they found Mike Hostler.

Mike Hostler, Calcutta Auctioneer and riverside race/color commentator extroirdinaire!
Great job Mike, and thanks, you added a lot to the weekends fun!

The Calcutta was held at the local American Legion hall, aptly named "The Foxhole" and was well attended by racers and some race fans. I did the introductions of the race teams (which by the way, I had a lot of fun with) and Mike auctioned 'em off.  The Calcutta seemed pretty successful, don't know the numbers, but it looked good as these things go. The Foxhole really reminded me of home, which it should since we were only about 60 miles by river from home, as it were.

The Start/Finish line was something special- hamburger stands, music, Mike doing race commentary, t-shirt sales, really neat. We launched hydro-style, which is, everybody just picks a spot on the bank and backs in the river! Pretty darn good way to get 14 boats all in the water at once! I think this was a new way of doing things for most of the racers, but hey, new ain't necessarily bad. Lots of spectators at the riverbar and lots of spectators on the bluffs above the river.

Saturday running

Yellowhammer

Scott Adams #155

The 8th grade class put together a breakfast for us at the very nice elementary school. Good breakfast! They were raising money for their 8th grade trip, the goal is likely Sacramento, but I would respectfully suggest Lake Tahoe or Yosemite. I always learned a lot more from looking at mountains and trees than I ever did by listening to politicians... ;)

The runs were setup like this: The first run was a down leg from the pits, roughly at the the two thirds mark of the course, about 6 miles. Then an upriver run, past the pits to Tish Tang campground, about 9 miles. THENCE a down run, past the pits again, 9 miles to the bottom end, then an up run again to Tish Tang, 9 miles, another 9 mile down run, then a short up run of 6 miles back to the pits. Let's see, thats 6 plus 9 times 4, plus 6...  six legs for a total of 48 miles. Well, I only needed about 20 gallons of fuel to do that distance so of course I filled it all the way up the filler neck, about 33 gallons. Don't like having to live in fear of paddles.

The starts went well, and by looking of the times for the first run down, most teams were sort of feeling there way down river. Steve Hanlin had a mishap right above the bridge, rolled his new Eagle up onto a rock pile. No injuries, but if you haven't seen the video yet on the Eagle site, you should look at it. Scary! Roll bars and harnesses saved their lives. They work. VIDEO

It seems that there was another accident right there just after Steve and Dave's, a spectator saw the wreck, hastily pulled over onto an access road next to the bridge and jumped out of their truck. Without setting the park brake. Steve is waving at them that their truck is rolling away, the river is roaring right there so they can't hear what he is yelling, everyone thinks he is just being a bit exhuberant about the hands over your head thing. Steve gives up in disgust as the truck rolls of the access road and smacks a bridge support. This all happened on the first down leg.

Lynn's son-in-law Chris, had set up a camera on the back lawn at the motel then drove up river to launch us, then drove back down to the motel to video. He pulled in to the parking lot just as the wreck happened watched Steve and Dave get out of the boat then walked over to the camera. People came running up and asked him if he got it. Of course he hadn't, he had just got there. They got mad!

For me and Lynn, the down run was a look and see type of run, just looked everything over good, kept to no chance lines. Fun run! The Trinity is a series of challenging riffles and lines, it is real easy to get going too fast some places. Gary Labrum described it as a being small Salmon race, and I agree.

Discovered that we might not have gotten Thunderbolt's sponsons re-aligned quite right when we rebuilt it, it would start hopping sideways in the slow roller filled corners in the upper half. Not fun! At one point I tried using the motor to get it to slide instead of hop, BIG mistake. I stomped the throttle at the point were the boat was mostly in the water, it took an immediate huge leap sideways, hit the water on it's right side and stopped dead. All the forward momentum was instantly converted to sideways momentum,  then dissipated in a huge wall of water, a dented sponson and threw me on top of Lynn. She got a nasty bruise on her left arm where I landed on her. After I got over the surprise of suddenly being on the wrong side of the boat, I got us rolling again but did not attack any more corners that way! Need to keep the belts tighter, way tighter, lesson learned.

At the bottom end, we were parking in the bushes. Literally drove the boat into a pile of brush then quickly tied up to the biggest trunk in there. Dean Saxon, using his head like always, not just following the crowd, went down around the corner and discovered a nice beach, should have gone down there myself. Lots of leaves in the boat.

The finish line itself was a matter of cornering, dodging rocks and looking for a parking place all at the same time.
This is truly a great race, it is challenging and interesting. I would love to run the Trinity when the water is down, must be a real kick and I am sure it will also require a lot of concentration.

Brodie Miller's absolutely gorgeous race boat.


Unpredictable chillin.
 

The pool sweep raid-

Late Saturday night, the Liquifire team and the Unpredictable team converged on the pool at the motel. I think they were skinny dipping. I surmised this from a conversation I heard the next day: "Hey, I'm cooking weanies, do you want one?" The reply was
"Hell no, I saw way more of those than I wanted to last night!"

The pool sweep was all wound around itself the next morning also, and I don't want to know about that either. It was a little drunk out Saturday night.

Sunday running

Gary Longfellow catchin the afternoon rays!
 

By the second day, everything had pretty much shaken out, everyone was running their best legs. Paul Bagshaw #277 Unpredictable and Bob White # 295 were very close in A-class.  The Liquifire team #244 was out in front of B-class followed in second and third by Scott Adams #155 and Brodie Miller #169. #13, Merv George, Yellowhammer had FX pretty much in the bag followed by Greg Hegemeir #07, Thunderbolt #16,  and Jack Patterson #26 Bad Habit who had gotten running for sunday after sitting out saturday.
Rich Boice #22 "Purpletop" didn't make the start because of a disassembled lifter and a bad rocker and ball.
Unpredictable #277 went out on the first up leg with a broken suction piece and #16 Thunderbolt went out also on the first up leg with two cracked cylinders.

Probably twice as many spectators today as on Saturday. Since I was back at the pits with a broken boat, I strolled over and got a hamburger from Horse's mom. GOOD BURGER!

Awards

Trophy girl, Ev George, awards her dad first place in FX class!