Dillon Racing boat plans and Mini GT racing Featuring boat plans for the Dillon Mini

Dillon Racing -- Race Reports 2006

The Dillon Mini wins its first race, first time out!

June 26, 2006:

Yesterday I took the Dillon Mini to Little Falls, MN for its debut race on the Mississippi River. It all went as well as I could have ever hoped or imagined. Racing against Racemaster, Leecraft, Kober Kat, Hydrostream and more, the Dillon Mini was simply untouchable.

The Dillon Mini

The first heat got off to a typically messy start. Mini GT starts on the fly. It is up to us, the racers, to line up according to numbers drawn at the morning driver's meeting. When we are in our proper positions, the flag is dropped and off we go. Well, we never formed much of a line, but they turned us loose anyway. Since I was in position #2, right next to the pole, I quickly got the lead and took off from there.

Second heat we reverse order so I was out near the far end. Again we had trouble getting a good line, and the farther we went, the narrower the river was getting. Bottom line, I got squeezed out of the line and ended up pretty much in last place at the start. But it only took about three laps to regain the lead, and I was ahead of the second-place boat by half a lap when the checkered flat came out.

At the end of the race, boat, motor and driver weighed in at 623 lbs. That's right about what I had calculated it to be. Before the bare hull was removed from the shop last April, I weighed it on a bathroom scale. Then I weighed all the additional parts and pieces before they were bolted on. The number I came up with was 619 lbs., not including the gas tank. Anyway, 600 lbs. is the minumum required weight, so I'm right where I need to be.

Next stop is Sioux City, IA, July 22 and 23 on the Missouri River. Some of our biggest boats may not be there, electing instead to race at the Champ Boat event in Minneapolis that same weekend. But we're looking forward to a good field of Mini GTs, Sport Cs and SST 60s. Last year it was about 105 degrees on Saturday. We could do without that again.

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July 25, 2006:

Got back from Sioux City about midnight on Sunday, sunburnt, sore and needing sleep, but happy with the weekend's events.

First of all, appologies to those who came looking for us on the Nebraska side of the river. They changed locations to the new launch facility in Sioux City. The pits were a big, open, paved parking lot with nary a tree in sight. Hot hot!

Saturday, I decided to run my 10x17 prop, so I lent my 10x15 to one of the other racers. The 10x15 is a propeller that I cut down, thinned and cupped last year, and I've always been very happy with it. Efforts to duplicate it, however, have been unsuccessful. I did something right with that prop, but I don't know exactly what that might be.

The 10x17, on the other hand, is a professionally worked racing prop which is actually a little faster than the 15, but is rather sluggish on acceleration. Overall, however, I'd say performance is about the same as I get from the 10x15.

But my competitor's boat (an 11' Racemaster) really perked up with my best propeller. Bottom line: a 13-year-old kid beat me with my own prop!! We'll be laughing about that for some time.

So the Dillon Mini was defeated, second time out. I'll settle for second place.

Sunday I had my favorite propeller bolted on again, and I rode it to the checkered flag. But I was chased the whole way by another of my competitors who had worked very hard on his boat over the last month.

So you design and build a fast boat, and it inspires your competitors to meet the challenge. Well, the Dillon Mini isn't afraid of a little competition.

A second place and a first place -- that's a pretty good weekend of racing.

Next races in Crosby, MN, July 29-30. Back to calmer, lake water conditions. Come on out to watch the races, and look me up in the pits.

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Caught in the act!

August 1, 2006

My pit spy caught this racer -- who shall remain nameless -- applying super-secret speed enhancements to his boat. Some might think he's just sticking on sponsor's logos, but I'm not falling for that one. No no, I'm on to this nefarious character....

Despite such shady goings-on, we had a great race on Saturday in Crosby, MN. The winds were light but we chopped up the water pretty good with a nine-boat field. And the clouds that had been hanging around all morning burst forth with big fat drops just as we started to form up for the start.

I started way out at the end in the ninth postion, but soon found myself in third place behind the 770 boat (see above -- that's right, it's that guy again). The engineering team at "KUHL Racing" has clearly been staying up nights to work on their rig. The white Racemaster was really humming, and as long as he held the inside line all I could do was catch up in the straight and then watch him get away from me again in the corner. Only when we caught up to some lapped traffic was I able to make a move and get by him. But the first-place boat was too far away by then, so the Dillon Mini took second place for heat #1.

Second heat, we did the same thing again. Except this time, when I finally got by that pesky 770 boat, the Dillon Mini was in first place and won the heat -- and won the race overall.

Sunday, alas, the wind blew and blew across Serpent Lake. In the early afternoon a few boats from various classes went out to test the conditions and the reports were not good. Some of the veteran racers pointed out that it is easy to go out on such a day intending to just take it easy. It is much harder to actually do that once the race is on.

At 2:00 the decision was made to scratch for the day. We were all disappointed to miss a day of racing, but at the same time relieved not to be going out onto those boat-punishing waves.

We'll meet again in Hill City, MN August 12-13. Hopefully the Dillon Mini Vee (see below) will be on the lake for its first race.

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August 15, 2006

The truck is parked in the sunshine with the windows open. The deck is strewn with life jacket, helmet, boat covers, sneakers and socks..., laid out to dry in the breeze. The boats are uncovered with the deck plates open. There are always plenty of opportunities to get wet at the boat races, but a rainy day works its sticky dampness into everything.

But that was Sunday.

The Dillon Mini takes on Tyler Kuhl's Racemaster

Saturday was near perfect, partly cloudy with mild summer temperatures. Besides our usual OPC classes, we were joined in Hill City by a small group of "kneel down" boats -- stock and modified hydroplanes and runabouts. Ten classes in all, and it made for long day.

When the flag dropped for Mini GT, two of the young guns jumped to the front, David Sellner in the lead and Tyler Kuhl in second place. The Dillon Mini took up an all-too-familiar position chasing the Kuhl Racing 770 boat. Again, Tyler hugged the inside line and kept hanging me out to dry in the turns. Finally, around lap five or so, I came out of the turn still close enough to overtake him on the long straightaway. But now the Sellner V-bottom was ahead by a quarter lap and, though I was slowly catching up, there just weren't enough laps remaining. Second place for the Dillon Mini in heat #1.

The second heat was setting up for a repeat with David, Tyler and me swinging around the first buoy. But the Sellner boat died in the middle of the turn. It came down to chasing Tyler once again, finally finding my opportunity to pass, and taking first place for heat #2. With the Sellner boat out of the race, the win went to the Dillon Mini.

Young Mr. Kuhl provided me with this illustration of what he sees when the Dillon Mini gives him the slip.

I don't actually have that much hair

And here's what I see as I'm speeding by. Take that, wiseguy!!

Powered by the spruce Evinrude

Sunday was damp and dark, but the racing went on, but with less fortune for me. David Sellner's V-bottom was running again, and once he got the early lead I just couldn't catch him. We were virually dead even on speed going downwind. Upwind, the Dillon Mini's tunnel hull took advantage of the increased wind speed and gained a fraction of mile-per-hour on the Sellner boat.

But it was to no avail. I'd catch up on the outside only to be left behind through the turn. I resorted to crossing his wake at the first buoy, then re-crossing through his rooster-tail coming out of the turn. My best attempt to make something this way came at the last turn. We headed for the finish with me only a boat-length behind, but it was the downwind leg and I could not gain anything. A win for David, and the Dillon Mini takes second place -- and I had just as much fun in any case.

Next stop, Mooselake, MN for the last two races of the 2006 season. Hopefully, I can find an additional mph or two by then and get back out in front. See you there September 16 and 17.

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September 10, 2006

I brought the Dillon Mini and the Dillon Mini Vee to Nevis, MN, and was met there by the boys from Kuhl Racing -- Tyler (the young driving sensation) and his dad, Dominic (top wrench, chief financial officer, truck driver, gofer, and the guy who has to wade into the lake at launch time).

First on the lake were Tyler in his Racemaster, followed by Dominic in the Mini Vee. While admitting that turning was an issue, Dominic declared the boat a great ride. Head-to-head runs between the Vee and the Racemaster showed them to be pretty much even -- and Tyler always races near the front, including a win this season, and one in 2005, and currently second place in points.

So the Vee looks ready for its inaugural race this Saturday with Dominic at the wheel.

After testing some props we did a little boat-swapping. First out was Tyler in the Mini Vee. Reluctant at first, he returned to the beach all smiles. Next Dominic took the Dillon Mini for a spin. This was my first chance to see my boat with someone else at the wheel. As he made his runs back towards the beach, I was very happy to see how high the Mini stood up on its sponsons with full daylight shining through the tunnel.

Dominic, an experienced racer and performance boat aficionado (and maybe just a bit of a V6 Mercury snob), found the Dillon Mini to be very solid and stable and highly predictable -- a "Caddilac," and more fun than he thought he could have in a small racing boat.

Finally, I climbed into the Racemaster and Tyler into the Mini. We made a few side-by-side runs up the lake, and I must say it was very gratifying to see the way the Dillon Mini got up on the last twelve to eighteen inches of its sponsons -- and easily kicked the Racemaster's butt. In fairness, however, I probably have 50 lbs. on Tyler, so the total weights of both boats were way off in favor of the Mini.

A fun and educational day. We're now ready for Mooselake this weekend, hoping to see two Kuhl drivers and two Dillon boats at the front of the Mini GT pack. Come on out and see some racing.

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September 18, 2006

Saturday, September 16, the Mooselake Grand Prix in Mooselake, MN. A big group of drivers and boats showed up for a weekend of racing, including stock and modified hydros and runabouts and two vintage inboard hydroplanes. Our usual bunch of OPC classes were present (nine boats in SST 60 alone) plus the brand new Formula V2 class running as a special event. It didn't hurt that the Saturday races were also the Regionals for Region 8.

For the first heat in Mini GT, Tyler Kuhl had the pole position, while I was #5 with two rookies stationed to my right. Tyler was once again using my 10x15 Michigan propeller, which to date had pushed me to all my wins, while I had on my 10x17 OMC. The 17 pitch propeller, a professionally modified prop that dates back to the Mini Grand Prix days, gives me a little bit more speed (about 1 mph), but is sluggish on acceleration. On the other hand, there was no good tactical reason to lend Tyler the 10x15. But this is racing, so let's race. And the wins are that much sweeter if the competition is running his best.

The flag dropped, and Tyler quickly took the lead as we swept into the first turn. I made the mistake of closely following him around the first buoy, getting a face-full of rooster tail for my troubles. That gambit never does pays off, but I seem inclined to try it now and again. The rest of the heat I chased him down, barely catching up on the straightaways, then falling back in the turns. Tyler took first place for the heat, and the Dillon Mini took second.

Heat #2, the starting order is turned around so that I was now on the pole. Next to me was Jim Sellner in his 13-foot Critchfield v-bottom. Jim stayed right beside up to the first turn, but with the inside lane I inevitably took lead. While Jim and Tyler battled behind me, I drove the Mini to first place for the heat with Jim second and Tyler third.

The Dillon Mini was the overall winner, earning the 2006 Mini GT Regional Championship Flag (see above). Tyler took second place overall and Jim was third.

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Sunday morning dawned with a bit of wind coming down the lake. But it didn't stop any of the OPC boats. The knee-riders sent a small group of "D" mod runabouts for one heat, but they didn't come back for another, and that was the end of the hydro/runabout program for the day.

I started the race on the outside again, with one rookie on my right. Tyler Kuhl, starting from the middle of the pack this time, rushed to the first pin and grabbed the lead, followed closely (just inches, Tyler says) by Howard Pipkorn and then me.

I duked it out with Howard for several laps, catching up on the straightaway only to get left behind in the turns. I tried the wide, sweeping turn in hopes of holding onto my speed. I tried crossing his wake through the turn, hoping to sneak into the inside lane. Finally, on lap six, I crossed inside his wake then re-crossed to end up outside again but close enough to make a clean pass on the straight and close the door on him in the next turn. As I came around the second pin, however, there was the big bow of Jim Sellner's Critchfield hot on my transom. I held him off for the last lap, however, and took second place behind the young Mr. Kuhl.

Heat #2 found me on the pole again. When the field rounded turn one, the Dillon Mini was in the lead followed by Jim Sellner and Tyler Kuhl. This was the windiest race the Dillon Mini has run in. I had tested in wind before and established that it is not prone to blow-over. But a race course is much rougher than the home lake, with wind-generated waves coming down the lake and boat-generated wakes coming across the course. Near the turns, waves gather and criss-cross and build up in unpredictable ways. I had visions of launching off one of these wave complexes only to have the wind push me right over onto my head. So I had to pick up my foot now and then for my own peace of mind.

But when the white flag came out I was still ahead with a reasonable lead. I ran my last lap of 2006, happy that the Dillon Mini had stood up to the punishment and did itself proud in its introductory season. The checkered flag signaled one last win for the season, and also the long winter to come. Whatever building and design program Dillon Racing establishes for the off-season, these were eight races and six wins to remember and be proud of.

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By the way, on Sunday morning all the young female racers showed up at the driver's meeting wearing identical pink tee shirts. On the back they read: "If you can read this you're being beaten by a girl."

I'm afraid these young ladies have stumbled onto a terrible truth. Us guys don't really mind being beaten by a girl; we just hate being teased about it.

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September 28, 2006

The word is we'll be racing two more times this season. We'll be back in Little Falls, MN on October 21 and 22. Awfully late in the season here in Minnesota. We could get just about any sort of weather, from Indian summer to snow flurries. Racing in a snowstorm might be fun -- we'd need de-icing equipment like they use at the airport. So, bundle up and come to Little Falls....

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October 23, 2006

Stars dotted the sky at 6:30am when I went out to brush a dusting of snow off the boats. Seemed like a perfect day to go boat racing.

Boats and racers gathered at the small park on the Mississippi River in Little Falls, MN. Dressed in parkas and mittens, we looked more prepared for a snowmobiling event than a boat race. Although no class had more than five boats, it still seemed a pretty good turnout for late October.

I had already decided to use this event to test race the Dillon Mini Vee, so I turned the Dillon Mini over to the capable hands of Tyler Kuhl, my young competitor and Racemaster pilot. (More on the Mini Vee's performance below.)

Tyler Kuhl gets ready to race the Dillon Mini, October 22, 2006

Tyler simply ran away from the rest of us on both days. Late in the Sunday race, trouble developed in the turns: the motor nearly stalled as he rounded the buoys, but then suddenly jumped to life again. He finished the race making wide, sweeping turns. It didn't change the outcome -- he won handily.

Back on shore, Dominick Kuhl quickly diagnosed the problem. It seems some knucklehead (that would be me) installed the fuel tank backwards, with the pickup tube toward the inside of the turn. As the fuel supply ran low, it all sloshed to the other side of the tank leaving the pickup drawing nothing but air. Somehow I had managed to go all season without this trouble exposing itself. It's good to be lucky.

So that concludes the 2006 racing season. The Dillon Mini came on with a bang at the start of the summer, saw a few competitors tune their rigs and nearly catch up, but managed to stay ahead most of the time. Of ten races, the Dillon Mini won eight and came in second in the other two. It captured the 2006 Highpoints Championship and the Region 8 Championship, all of the honors that are up for grabs in Mini GT. I'd say that's a successful season. And it was great fun all the way.

Now the long winter, and a new boatbuilding project. For next summer, besides Mini GT, I'll be racing Sport C. The Sport C boat is already drawn fullsize on the loft table, and I'm now working out the particulars. I'll use the HOME page to keep you udated on its progress and talk more about the class.