Dillon Racing -- GT Pro
At the 2008 TCPBA (Twin City Powerboat Assoc.) Awards Banquet, the highpoints trophies and certificates were presented. In attendance for GT Pro were: Brander Halver (7th); Tyler Welch (4th); Megan Halver (3rd); Stephanie Hansen (2nd); Bob Dillon (1st).
The TCPBA "Most Improved Driver" award went to Stephanie Hansen.
|Race Results 2008|
|:)||Detroit Lakes||Detroit Lakes||Champlin||Hastings||Crosby||Crosby||Little Falls||Little Falls|
|1st||Tyler Kuhl||Tyler Kuhl||Don Yuronich||Bob Dillon||Stephanie Hansen||Don Yuronich||Bob Dillon||Bob Dillon|
|2nd||Bob Dillon||Stephanie Hansen||Stephanie Hansen||Tyler Welch||Bob Dillon||Megan Halver||Stephanie Hansen||Stephanie Hansen|
|3rd||Stephanie Hansen||Bob Dillon||Tyler Welch||Megan Halver||Tyler Welch||Bob Dillon||Brander Halver||Aaron Bjork|
|4th||Don Yuronich||Megan Halver||Bob Dillon||Aaron Bjork||Merv Bjork||Stephanie Hansen||Megan Halver||Megan Halver|
|5th||Megan Halver||Tyler Welch||Megan Halver||Merv Bjork||Brander Halver||Brander Halver||Aaron Bjork||Brander Halver|
|6th||Brander Halver||Brander Halver||Merv Bjork||Stephanie Hansen||Don Yuronich||Tyler Welch||Mervin Bjork||Mervin Bjork|
|7th||Tyler Welch||Merv Bjork||*||Don Yuronich||Megan Halver||Merv Bjork||Tyler Welch||Tyler Welch|
Detroit Lakes, MN, June 7-8
I drew the pole for the first heat of 2008. I figured I was a shoe-in for taking the lead right from the start.
But, from somewhere down the line came Tyler Kuhl's very familiar white Racemaster, recently upgraded to GT Pro with nothing more than a new carburetor and fifty pound of ballast. By the time we rounded the first bouy he was ahead of me and going away. Not far behind me was Stephanie Hansen, also in a Racemaster, followed by Don Yuronich in my old Mini Vee. Brander Halver and Megan Halver were having a hard time with their recently converted Min GT boats. And bringing up the rear, in his brand new, lime green Dillon Mini was Tyler Welch, clearly way off the pace.
Heat number two, Tyler Kuhl quickly took the lead again followed by me, Stephanie and Don. A few laps in, as I was about to pass Tyler Welch on the outside, I momentarily lost sight of the short-course bouys and took aim on the bigger bouys farther along. I quickly realized my error and cranked into the turn, but Stephanie took advantage and grabbed the second place position. Don, who initially followed me in my error, passed me soon after. But I took back third place a half-lap later and that's how the heat ended.
Results: Tyler Kuhl, first; Bob Dillon, second by eight seconds; Stephanie Hansen, third; and Don Yuronich, fourth place in the Mini Vee, in his first boat race, then Megan Halver, Brander Halver and Tyler Welch.
The Pro Vee ran quite well in the choppy conditions. It occasionally got a little wild, but I generally just drove through it, maybe trimmed down a bit to calm it down. I didn't get good rpm with the 17-pitch prop I used, barely able to get in the 6000s.
I was sixth in line for the Sunday race, with only the Mini Vee to my right, this time driven by Merv Bjork, whose own boat will be ready to race soon.
Tyler Kuhl jumped into the lead once again. Stephanie Hansen took up second place, and I chased her for the entire heat, close behind all the way and sometimes alongside but always on the outside lane. All the other boats were very close behind for a couple of laps, including Tyler Welch now running a different propeller. The field eventually stretched out, but remained pretty closely matched.
I had the pole again for heat number two (Merv, in his first race, was relegated to last position both heats). Tyler Kuhl and I entered the first turn side-by-side with the Pro Vee on the inside, but Tyler's perfectly dialed-in Racemaster pulled ahead steadily all through the turn, and continued to gain down the front straightaway until just before the next bouy he pulled in front of me, closing the door and burying me in spray. Stephanie Hansen stayed close behind, but I seemed in firm posession of second place. But late in the heat my engine seemed to be losing power. In the last lap there was no doubt of it. Stephanie caught up, and we crossed the finish line side-by-side. I'm still not sure if she passed me, but it was enough for her to clinch second place overall.
Results: Tyler Kuhl, first; Stephanie Hansen, second; Bob Dillon, third; then Megan Halver, Tyler Welch, Brander Halver and Merv Bjork.
Back in the pits, I quickly discovered that one of the screws from the butterfly valve was missing, so I feared the worst. Next day I pulled the carb and, to my great relief, found the screw sitting in the bottom of the intake manifold.
I ran a 15-pitch propeller with a lot of cup for the Sunday race. My rpm was a bit better, but still only in the low 6000s, maybe as high as 6300 or so. More experimenting to come.
Next stop, Champlin, MN, June 15.
Champlin, MN, June 15
Plenty of spring rain in the upper Midwest had the Mississippi River running high and strong. At one point, while we were setting up the course, an entire tree floated by. There was plenty of much smaller stuff in the water as well, but I don't think anyone suffered any damage.
Drama for this one-day event was provided by Denise Talcott who stuffed her Sport C right in front of the pits. First I saw was a wall of brown Mississippi water, then a yellow boat rising out of the river. She took on lots of water but was alright, and she safely idled the boat back to the trailer.
GT Pro started off the program for the day with six boats. A quick warm-up lap, then we lined up at the shore. We watched the start boat where the flagman raised, and then lowered, the start flag then raised it lowered it again, and then still once more. The anxiety grew. The flag came up one more time, then came down for the start. I pushed the start button and -- nothing. The rest of the field roared away, and there I sat.
Dean Hansen and Jeff Talcott quickly popped off my hood and found a cable disconnected from the starter motor. I had had the powerhead off during the week to extract a broken bolt and no doubt never got that nut re-tightened. The guys got it secured, and with the engine in neutral I gave it a test. All ok, but it was too late to join the heat.
From my riverside seat, I watched Don Yuronich drive his Dillon Mini Vee to a decisive victory for heat number one.
The boats came back in and we lined up for the second heat. I was in the number two position with Tyler Welch, in his lime-green Dillon Mini, to my left in the pole position. The flag went up, then dropped. I hit the starter and my engine jumped to life -- in neutral!!! I backed off the throttle and shifted into gear (with more rpm than I should have), and the race was on.
Tyler Welch took the lead, and I came up close behind and one lane to the outside. For four laps I was able to catch up with him on the straightaway only to lose ground in the turns. Stephanie Hansen and Don Yuronich remained close behind. With no chance to get past Tyler, I knew my only opportunity would be to catch him on the last dash for the finish line, and that meant coming out of the last turn in really good position. For the fifth and final lap, I came around turns one and two in better shape than I had anticipated. I passed Tyler on the back straightaway and continued to gain. As I swung around bouy three I glanced over my shoulder and saw Tyler correcting his course; he'd obviously spun just a bit. I was hoping for a crowd-pleasing side-by-side finish, but now I was firmly in the lead and took the win for heat number two.
Final results: Don Yuronich, first place; Stephanie Hansen, second; Tyler Welch, third; then Bob Dillon, Megan Halver and Merv Bjork.
Hastings, MN, July 20
The picture below (from Bob Stone, future GT Pro racer whose Dillon Mini is under construction) could be titled "All Lined Up and No Place To Go."
The Twin City Powerboat Association has three local classes: Mini GT and GT Pro, and also VP75, a v-bottom class using mostly 1970s vintage boats and 49 cu. in. three-cylinder OMCs. At Hastings, VP was the last class of the day. Eleven boats were lined up and waiting for the start flag to drop when the Coast Guard abruptly declared racing was over, they were opening the river to general traffic. Eleven very upset drivers.
Happily, those guys should get to race twice this coming Saturday or Sunday on Serpent Lake in Crosby, MN.
GT Pro, on the other hand, was the first class to race. We had seven boats, including the return of the original Dillon Mini tunnel boat, now owned by Don Yuronich -- who also owns my old Mini Vee. Don drove the tunnel, while Aaron Bjork made his rookie debut in the Mini Vee. Along with the Pro Vee and Tyler Welch's Mini, that was four Dillon designed and/or built boats competing together.
I was lined up on the pole for heat number one. When the flag dropped the Pro Vee jumped out of the hole and was the first around the bouys. I got situated on the back straightaway, set my trim, established that my rpm was where I expected and all was going well. I glanced over each shoulder to see who was chasing me and couldn't see anyone. Not until I rounded the next pair of bouys could I see that Tyler Welch was several boat lengths behind me in second place, and the rest of the field was pretty closely bunched several boat lengths behind Tyler. The Mini Vee was in third. Don's Mini was near the back of the pack -- after nearly a year away from racing, and after two ownership changes, it will take a little work to get my old tunnel back to its old self.
I relaxed a bit for the rest of the heat. Tyler slowly got closer, but there weren't enough laps for him to close the gap. The Pro Vee won the heat.
For heat number two I was lined up in sixth position, with Aaron Bjork taking a second turn in the last spot: first-time racers take the last position for both heats. Don couldn't get the Mini re-started and had to sit this one out.
I got another good start, but we were required to hold our lanes all the way around the first set of bouys, so my first turn was a wide one. When we got onto the back straightaway, and could abandon our lanes, I was side-by-side with Tyler, and Megan Halver was close behind him. For seven laps I stayed just ahead while Tyler, on the inside lane, caught me at all the turns. And Megan hung in there the whole way, waiting for either of us to make a mistake. We charged across the finish line with the Pro Vee ahead by a nose.
Side-by-side racing is the only way to do it!!
Final results: Bob Dillon, first; Tyler Welch, second; Megan Halver, third; then Aaron Bjork, Merv Bjork, Stephanie Hansen and Don Yuronich.
Next stop, Crosby, MN.
Crosby, MN, July 26-27
Another fantastic weekend of racing in Crosby, one of the very best venues we have, with lots of local sponsorship. The weather could not have been better: light winds and temps in the low 80s. Two incidents marred the proceedings (or added excitement, depending on your point of view). On Saturday Jeff Larson rolled over his VP75-class GW Invader. He swam out from under a few seconds later no worse for the experience. On Sunday, in Formula Vee, the Sellner brothers met violently in the first turn, with Jim's prop tearing into Jerry's beautiful 20-foot Allison. Jim got a new prop and joined the re-start. Jerry went to work with the duct tape and was back out for heat #2.
I could hardly be happier with the GT Pro results for this weekend. We ran on a shortened course which emphasized turning ability over top speed -- tough for me, but a great way to run a class like GT Pro.
We went straight from the starting line to turns one and two. From the pole I dashed passed the two pins, went just a little wide, then looked back to see Stephanie Hansen (Racemaster #419) filling the gap. I caught up with her by turn three, but this very sharp one-bouy turn was really tough for the Pro Vee, and she pulled ahead again. Turn four was a dogleg in the front straightaway, another place for the inside boat to gain a boat-length. But I could make up most of my losses on the back straight, and a few laps later I was right beside her when she spun out in turn three, hosing me down pretty good but leaving me in the lead. Nevertheless, she caught and passed me and won the heat.
Heat #2, I was at the far end of the line, in seventh place. We had to hold our lanes through turns one and two, so I was pushed way wide. When we got onto the back straight and were able to close ranks, I pulled up onto the right gunnel of Tyler Welch (Talcott-built Dillon Mini #7), and Stephanie was in the lead again. Tyler and I fought it out side-by-side for the entire heat, but I managed to nose him out at the finish line. Fourteen-year-old Stephanie, in her third year of racing, in front of her hometown crowd, got her first ever win.
Final Results: Stephanie Hansen, first; Bob Dillon, second; Tyler Welch, third; then Merv Bjork, Brander Halver, Don Yuronich and Megan Halver.
Another bouy was added to the course, eliminating the single bouy turn. We started in the typical way, accelerating diagonally through the middle of the course with turn three doubling as the commitment bouy.
I drew the pole position once again -- people are starting to get suspicious. I got a great start, as the Pro Vee always does, rounded bouys three and four in the lead, then looked over my shoulder to find Don Yuronich (Dillon Mini #24) a few boat-lengths behind. I relaxed just a bit to let Don close the gap, and otherwise cruised to a win -- first and second place for the Dillon v-bottoms.
Heat #2 was a more humbling experience. Lined up in the seventh position this time (end of the line), I came out of a wide turn through bouys three and four to see 16-year-old Megan Halver (Kober Cat #311) in the lead, and Don Yuronich in second. I pulled up beside Brander Halver (Rinker #736) to duke it out for third. Merv Bjork (Racemaster #232) dropped out for a couple of laps, but soon re-joined the race. Brander and I raced side-by-side for the entire heat. Somewhere along the way, Brander didn't hug the bouys quite close enough and Stephanie Hansen shot by on the inside -- what sort of rocket fuel was she burning this weekend? Megan led all the way to the finish, while Don took another second, Stephanie third and I nosed out Brander to just eek out a fourth place.
Final Results: Don Yuronich (Mini Vee), first; Megan Halver, second; Bob Dillon (Pro Vee), third; then Stephanie Hansen, Brander Halver, Tyler Welch and Merv Bjork.
In a sport where one or two drivers tend to dominate a class -- sometimes year after year -- GT Pro has had four different winners in six races, with a variety of drivers taking home the second and third place trophies. You can't predict from one race to the next who will find his/her way up to the front. I can't tell you just how pleased I am with that.
Tentatively we'll be racing in Little Falls September 6-7, the weekend after Labor Day. I hope that all gets arranged, and hope to see you there.
Little Falls, MN, September 20-21
After a cool and sometimes dreary early September, summer made a miraculous return engagement to Minnesota, with temps in the mid-70s. A little breezy on Sunday, but this protected part of the Mississippi River was not wipped up into a chop. Pretty much perfect boatracing weather. (Thanks to Bob Stone for the photos.)
I drew the pole yet again. So I easily grabbed the lead, with Aaron Bjork in the Mini Vee in second a few boat lengths behind. I took it a bit easy, but Aaron only slowly narrowed the gap. With maybe three laps to go he was passed by Stephanie Hansen, so now I thought I'd better pour it on, stay away from her. But there wasn't enough race left for her to mount a real challenge and I won the heat nicely.
Reversing the starting order put Brander Halver on the pole, and he took advantage of it, grabbing the lead. For two or three laps it was a battle between Brander, Megan Halver and me, Brander leading, Megan behind him, and me on the outside lane. Then Megan spun out in turn three leaving me and Brander side-by-side. The Pro Vee was the faster boat, but Brander's Rinker was much better in the turns so getting by him was not going to be easy. In fact I was perfectly content to stay with him to the end and attempt to pass in the last dash for the finish.
But here comes Stephanie, having worked her way through the field, to upset our little two-boat party. Under pressure from Stephanie, Brander spun out in turn three and she quickly passed me on the inside. So now it was a Dillon/Hansen battle to the end. The white flag came out and I knew I had to stay close. In turn three (that one, again) I tucked in close behind Stephanie, so that when she spun out, I had to turn away just a bit to avoid clipping her motor. So the win was mine, and Stephanie hung on to second. Brander finished third overall, his best finish of the season and his first trip to the podium.
Final results: Bob Dillon, first: Stephanie Hansen, second; Brander Halver, third. Then Megan Halver, Aaron Bjork, Merv Bjork and Tyler Welch.
For once I didn't draw the pole, instead started in position number five out of seven boats. Brander Halver had the pole, and he took advantage, jumping into first place, with the Pro Vee chasing. But after two or three laps he spun out in that very slippery turn three, leaving me in the lead. Stephanie Hansen made up a lot of ground after a poor start, but never quite caught up, and I went on to win the heat.
The second heat line up put Megan Halver on the pole, with Aaron Bjork (in my old Mini Vee) in the second position and the Pro Vee in the third spot. The three of us came off the starting line essentially side-by-side, and after the first pair of bouys Megan had the lead with me pretty much beside her and Aaron blocked out behind us.
But as we crossed the start/finish line the second time, the red flag (stop racing) and the black flag (back to the start beach) came out. Back up at the turn four bouy I could see Tyler Welch's Talcott-built Dillon Mini, but only as a narrow lime-green band on the water's surface. It appeared that after a weekend of stuggling through motor troubles, Tyler was now upside-down, and in fact that proved to be the case. Apparently Stephanie Hansen had dug a hole in the water and Tyler fell in. No word yet if Stephanie did it on purpose (just kidding), but she is a pretty fierce competitor.
Good news: driver and boat were just fine, and the motor was dried out and running again by day's end. GT Pro has its first incident. And Tyler has a story to tell.
The rest of us lined up for a restart, and it looked like a repeat of the first time out. Megan took the lead, I chased from one lane out and Aaron was boxed out behind us. I was content to run out the heat in that formation and let the last straightaway be the decider. But a couple of laps later Megan spun out in (you guessed it) turn three leaving the two Dillon v-bottoms to battle it out. But soon Aaron joined the roster of turn three victims. I relaxed for the rest of the heat while Aaron and Stephanie battled it out behind me. As the last lap wound down I let them (almost) catch up to me for a three-boat-wide finish to the 2008 GT Pro season.
Final results: Bob Dillon, first: Stephanie Hansen, second; Aaron Bjork, third. Then Megan Halver, Brander Halver, Merv Bjork and Tyler Welch.
Some stats for 2008:
Thoughts for 2009:
- Nine boats and nine drivers participated in GT Pro
- All nine made it to the top four at least once.
- Eight of the nine reached the podium, and took home some hardware
- Four of the nine drivers achieved first place finishes
- We had seven boats at every race except for Champlin where six boats lined up
As far as I know, all of this year's drivers will be back for 2009. I know of at least five potential new drivers who I hope will be joining us, including one who actually brought a boat to Little Falls, but could not quite get it race-ready. We will continue to hunt for more.
Stephanie Hansen's motor suffered some mechanical difficulties that made starts difficult. But once on plane she was a terror, mowing down competitors on every lap. I was always looking over my shoulder for her arrival. Team Hansen will surely figure out that glitch and I expect her to be a dominant force in GT Pro next season.
Megan Halver's Kober Cat is a very fast and capable boat, recently fitted with a new drum-and-cable steering system. A little more seat time and she too should be a frequent presence at the front of the pack.
The Girls just might rule!
The original Dillon Mini suffered from mechanical difficulties this year and didn't manage to be a factor. But a new motor is being sought and I look forward to seeing it back in form next year.
The Dillon v-bottoms will continue to do well, I should hope.
Maybe a new Dillon tunnel boat will be rolled out next spring, I haven't decided yet. Stay tuned.