June 9, 2007
GT Pro got off to a modest start at Detroit Lakes, MN, with only two boats signing up to race. Some Mini GTs jumped in to help us make it a race.
Saturday's sobering results had veteran driver Tyler Kuhl taking first place in his speedy Racemaster Mini GT (with a propeller borrowed from me -- hmm). Tyler started heat number one on the pole and took the lead right away. In my first race with the Dillon Pro Vee (formerly Mini Vee), I couldn't figure out how to get by him. And then Dave Halver, driving the Dillon Mini (the other GT Pro in the race) snuck by me, and that's how we finished the heat.
With Tyler lined up to my right for heat number two, I grabbed the lead and kept it. I was starting to figure out how to work the trim to make this boat go its best.
Still, the final result had Tyler on the top of the podium, me second, and Dave third.
June 10, 2007
Tyler's crew chief bought gas at Kuhl Racing's favorite pump, and ended up with a can of "W5" -- similar to E85 except that W5 is (appox.) 5% water. Tyler was forced to scratch from Mini GT, and the GT Pro race that followed. (Maybe I owe that gas station a "Jackson.")
I started heat number one on the pole, took the lead right away, and that's how it went for nine laps. But on the last lap I drove right past turn number one, mistakenly aiming for the far buoys which marked the long course used by the faster boats. I immediately realized my error, but Dave had already snuck in ahead of me and ended up taking first, with me in second, and the Mini GTs filling in behind.
I started heat number two at the far end of the line, and when we rounded the first set of buoys I was in third place. But I was really getting the Vee figured out at this point, so it only took a few laps to run down the speedy V-bottom Minis of David and Katie Sellner, taking each from the outside lane. Dave Halver had a little trouble working his trim, and the Dillon Mini fell back a ways.
But the two GT Pro boats took first and second overall, with David Sellner snagging third place.
Next stop Moose Lake, MN, June 16-17.
June 16-17, 2007
Saturday, Moose Lake, MN
Saturday went reasonably well for a while, with Gary Johnson of Moose Lake at the wheel of the Dillon Mini. Tyler Kuhl joined us to make our three boat minimum. Tyler had the pole for heat #1, and quickly gained the lead which he held for all ten laps.
I had the pole for heat #2 and took the lead. We ran a triangular course with one very sharp turn that made it difficult for the Vee, even with trim. Tyler's tight-turning Racemaster kept sneaking inside, but I was able to run away on the straights and held out to win the heat. Each of us had a first and a second, but I squeaked by on total time for overall first place.
Gary had engine trouble and didn't do very well, but he enjoyed his rookie race.
Sunday, Moose Lake, MN
With the Dillon Mini out of commission, I put a 25hp carb on my motor, disconnected the trim, and ran the Vee in Mini GT. First heat, it seemed like everybody passed me. Second heat, I held third place all the way, almost passed by Bob Matson (in my old Tunnel Mite), and never able to catch Brander Halver's Rinker. In the end, four of us were tied for third, but again my time proved best (by about 1 second!!) and third place was mine, behind Brander Halver in second (in his fourth race), and Tyler Kuhl on top of the podium (see photo, above).
June 23-4, 2007
With the Dillon Mini still down, I went to Little Falls with the Dillon Pro Vee set up for Mini GT racing. We had a ten-boat field again. First heat I took up fourth position behind David Sellner's Critchfield and spent the next ten laps chasing him. I was a bit faster, but he killed me in the turns. My last hope was to catch him on the last dash for the finish buoy, and I almost got him, but settled for fourth place.
Early in the heat, Megan Halver hooked her boat right into the path of Stephanie Hansen's Racemaster. Stephanie's boat climbed up the side of Megan's, pinning her hand against the steering wheel, though both boats stayed upright and afloat. But Megan had a badly bruised wrist. Her Kober Kat suffered some damage to the coaming, as well as a bent steering shaft.
Heat number two, with a better position on the starting line I jumped into first place. But I knew it was only a matter of time before Tyler Kuhl would catch up. Again, I was the faster boat, but the Vee is at a terrible disadvantage in the turns. On lap three, Tyler passed me in the turn, in the outside lane -- ouch!! I thought I might be able to keep up enough to catch him in the end, but he simply walked away from me and was a half-lap ahead at the end of the race.
Final: Tyler Kuhl, first; Bob Dillon, second; Brander Halver, third.
Sunday, more of the same. Tyler first, Dillon second.
A couple of days later, Dave Halver brought Megan's boat over to the Dillon shop for repairs, and took away one of my 35s to work on.
July 7-8, 2007
La Crosse, WI, was a rough ride. Combine the Mississippi current with a stiff south breeze and you've got some tough going for race boats.
On Saturday three boats lined up for GT Pro: me in the Pro Vee; Dominick Kuhl in the Dillon Mini; and Tyler in his Racemaster which had just taken a beating in the Mini GT race. When the flag dropped, only the Dillon boats made it out to the race course. It was a very rough, pounding and uncomfortable ride with me in the lead until the last turn when Dominick cut into the inside. I got hosed down but good with his roostertail, then poked the nose of the Vee into a wave and got a real dowsing. No matter, it felt good in the 90-or-so temperatures.
As we lined up for heat number two, the race director stated he was not thrilled to send just two boats out, so I made the decision to call it a race. I had no desire to pound both my boats into splinters. On the other hand, they both survived a pretty severe beating, which says something brag-worthy about their construction -- if I do say so myself.
Sunday, temperatures in the mid-90s, the breeze shifted to the SW, and the racecourse moved closer to the west bank of the river. The decision was made to run Mini GT and GT Pro together -- only seven boats total anyway.
Dominick and I quickly got ahead of the Minis, Dominick in the lead and pulling away. I could see David Sellner not far behind me, but otherwise it was just a matter of fighting the waves and trying to keep the Vee under control.
In the second heat, David, back in his Critchfield for the first time this year, got ahead of me early. Although I was in the faster boat, the Critchfield handled the chop alot better, and he stayed comfortably ahead of me. But I wasn't racing against him anyway. My real opponent, Dominick, had pulled away again, but after a couple of laps was seen off to one side, dead in the water. So I amused myself chasing David and just trying to keep the Vee deck-side up.
The Dillon Mini had a broken throttle pin and some busted mounts -- my solid mounts had clearly put too much strain on castings not designed for them.
Back on the road by 6:00 for the long ride home, just glad to have survived it all.
July 21, 2007
Between the bridge and the dam the Mississippi in Hastings, MN, was a perfect lake for boat racing. Especially on a hot, sunny day with a mild breeze. Perfect.
We gave GT Pro a rest for this one-day event. I reconfigured the Dillon Pro Vee for Mini GT racing and joined eight other boats at the starting line. The Vee was surely the fastest boat out there, but without trim the turns were once again my weakness. Tyler Kuhl and David Sellner quickly got ahead of me. With my speed, I might have been able to stay close behind them, but the closer I was as I entered the turns, the rougher the water and the worse my performance. I fell back, but didn't lose any more ground. Or gain any.
David won heat number one; Tyler won heat number two, and took the overall win by a margin of one second. The third place trophy now resides on the mantle of yours truly.
Megan Halver, back for her first race since the crash in Little Falls, was tentative for heat number one, but was finding her groove in the second. Her dad tells me she was closing in on the Pro Vee. Yikes!! Actually, it's great to see the youngsters and the rookies improving their rigs and making progress.
Now it's time to get both the GT Pros ready to race in Crosby, MN -- our last race weekend, unless something else comes along. Marty Branum and Dominic Kuhl are tentatively scheduled to drive the Dillon Mini. But there are also rumblings of a possible buyer. Stay tuned...
July 28-29, 2007
A bit hot, with clear skies and light winds. A perfect weekend for racing in Crosby, MN.
Sport C racer Denise Talcott drove the Dillon Mini on Saturday, her first taste of GT Pro. She got ahead of me in the first heat and held the inside lane, so all I could do was chase her from the outside. She won the heat by a nose.
Second heat I got out ahead and spent most of the heat holding back so she could catch up -- she wasn't trimming up enough. With a couple of laps to go she finally caught up, and by now had re-discovered the trim button. My plan was to engineer another close finish, this time with me ahead, and then let the scorekeeper figure out the race winner. But Denise had other ideas and she won by a length or two. And won the race, of course. And is still smiling from ear to ear. The crowd loved it. The Talcotts took home a set of plans, and I think they're building a boat already.
Sunday, 15-year-old Tyler Welch drove the Dillon Mini. His dad, Mark, drives a couple of the big V6 classes, and now it was Tyler's turn to get out on the lake.
In heat one I kept Tyler just to my outside, and I won in a close finish. Heat two, my motor hesitated badly in the first turn, which let Tyler, and Megan Halver in her Mini GT, get ahead of me. Well, Tyler was off and running, and I was left to chase Megan. But Megan's Kober Kat has been running very well, and it holds good speed in the turns, so try as I might I couldn't make the pass.
On the last dash for the finish line Tyler was way out front and the race was in his pocket. But, with a hundred feet left to go, the throttle cable on the Dillon Mini came loose leaving Tyler dead in the water.
Megan won the heat, and I won the race. But I think Tyler will be racing GT Pro next summer.
September 29-30, 2007
Question: If snowmobiles are part of the program, is it too late in the year to go boat racing? Well, not if it's those wacky watercross guys. Their machines are noisy, they look a little funny, and they drive then on the water like a boat. A lot of them took a lap or two then made it back to the beach. But probably half of them ended up in the drink.
Pine City, MN, the last weekend of September. Saturday was a most autumn-like day, with a little chill in the air, threatening rain, and a raw wind coming up the lake. A few boats took to the waves, but they quickly retreated to the ramp, and racing was cancelled for the day.
But snowmobiles -- driving on liquid water -- really! -- filled in and kept the crowd entertained.
Sunday didn't look like it was going to be any better. But as the morning wore away, the wind died down and we launched boats for the first class of the day, Mini GT.
With Gary Johnson (he bought the original Dillon Mini) unable to race due to an injured knee, we had no GT Pro class. So I set up the Mini Vee for Mini GT.
As expected, Tyler Kuhl dominated first place, but he was not far ahead of Meagan Halver's Kober Kat. Katie Sellner had a lock on third place. The real action was back in the back.
For heat #1 I found myself in the outside lane, side-by-side with Stephanie Hansen (age 13). With my motor down a pin from its usual set-up, I was still able to catch up, and sometimes pass the Hansen Racemaster. And I even discovered a sudden and suprising ability to take smooth, secure turns. But Stephanie made up all her losses in those turns, and I had to chase her down and try to pass again and again. In the final dash for the finish, I almost caught her, but fell short by about a half a boat length.
Fifth place for the Mini Vee, with Brander Halver (age 15) bringing up the rear, victim of some disappointing set-up choices.
Heat #2 looked just like the first in the front half of the field. But once again, the real fun was happening in back. I was again in the outside lane, this time beside Brander, who was running much better after a quick prop change. Behind us was Stephanie, looking for an opening, and Brander provided it when he came out a turn just a little too wide. Shephanie scooted into the inside and shot by. I figured I'd just follow her through. So now I was beside Brander again, but on the inside lane.
But as nicely as the Vee was turning, it still required a bit of real estate to get around those bouys and Brander was soon back inside. Once again I was chasing my opponent down the last dash for the finish. And once again came up just short.
Last place for the Mini Vee. Ouch, that hurts. But fifth place overall, and I had fun, and that's all that matters.
Bye bye to the 2007 racing season. I'm expecting at least six to ten GT Pro boats next summer, a real racing class. There's always room for more, so build or buy a boat and come join us.