The unpredictability's of racing can be brutal enough, toss in an aggravated mother nature and you get a season poxed with cancellations and inconsistencies. Miss Executif Racing and their UL-11 hydroplane just got back to racing a month ago after a cancellation back in June.
"The Missouri River was flooded," said team owner Darren Bartels. "There was a lot of debris in the river and our pit location was under nearly ten feet of water."
The weather related cancellation of the race in Chamberlain-Oacoma, South Dakota further shortened an already abbreviated race schedule. However, when UL-11 does race, it does very well thank you.
The UL-11 Power Punch Race Team/94Five Roxy/K&N Engineering, with the Local Support of Ricciardi's Italian Seafood House, was declared winner of the Polson Regatta in Polson, Montana. The team won both preliminary heats on Saturday earning 800 points, which turned out to be huge.
With local support of the race uncertain, ULHRA officials worked hard lobbying with the Confederated Kootenai/Salish Tribes and held the race on tribal land and water. This however left the race course in more unprotected water, subject to high winds. The UL Final scheduled for Sunday was once again canceled due to weather, with winds gusting over 25 mph. With two teams tied at 800 points from Saturday's races, the tie-breaker was based on total points earned in 2009 and that put the UL-11 team on top.
"We really wanted to run the final," remarked Bartels. "Our belief is we would have done well enough to gain some points in the high point standings. We'll take the win, but we really wanted the opportunity to prove what we can do in competition." The win and the points moved Miss Executif Racing from fifth into fourth and within striking distance of second place according to Bartels.
"Consistency, or lack of it, has been the key all year long," explained Bartels. "We had a real bad weekend in the Tri-cities a month ago earning just 127 out of 1200 points available. Steering issues were our downfall that weekend. Otherwise we've been a strong contender. We got the second highest qualifying lap speed in Seattle three weeks ago, at over 108 mph and almost blew the boat over doing so."
The team won the heats on Saturday despite only running on seven cylinders. During an engine test on the trailer they discovered a rocker arm broken on the number seven cylinder "Luckily we had just got some spares and the other damage was minimal," added Bartels.
For rookie driver Kevin Eacret, This is the second win in four races this year, both called because of windy conditions. "We know the boat can win, we have the power. We wanted nothing more than to run the final. That wind today was wicked, it just wouldn't have been safe. We'll just have to show them in San Diego next month." said Eacret.
"It just goes to show that preliminary heats are just as important as the final. Without strong showings early on we couldn't have taken the title at the end of the weekend," added Bartels.
On the schedule next is San Diego September 18 and 19. "Sponsorship issues with the event organizers may cause some issues there too," says Bartels. "In terms of races this year, it's been pretty dismal. It may be only four races of six we had scheduled. We went into this year expecting six to eight race weekends, but with Mother Nature and the economy playing their hand, we're pretty disappointed."
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