IHBA Phoenix World Finals - November 2008
by , 10-22-2009 at 03:51 AM (2940 Views)
I have been a boater for the better part
of 40 years and owner of Rex Marine
since 1981. In my blogs I will attempt to
tell a story of each event I cover,
from my perspective and through my
photos. I hope more people will become
involved as spectators or racers as a result
of my coverage. Enjoy
Drag Boat Racing Lives…
I traveled to Phoenix a bit uncertain of how the news-dominating weak economy would affect the participation level at this year’s World Finals. I was pleasantly surprised with the $1.97 a gallon gas prices in Arizona and also to see approximately 150 race teams in attendance. Ten Top Fuel Hydro teams showed up which is more than in recent memory. Roughly the same number of Top Alcohol Hydros and Top Alcohol Flats were in attendance as well. Pro Mods had roughly a dozen and a half teams and the numbers went up from there in the 8 and 9 second classes. The stands and pits were also packed with race fans.
Little wind, warm temperatures, and for the most part, flat water made for some kick-ass racing. The fuelers got down to it, posting ET’s well into the 4 second slot on at least eight different runs and speeds approaching 250 mph. Sunday’s final went to the Speed Sport Special team with John Haas doing the driving with a 4.81 second E.T. at 209.30 m.p.h.
On Saturday in qualifying, James Ray in the Tequila Sunrise TFH boat got a little out of shape right about the finish line. The boat made a right turn at around 200 mph and ended up going over sideways and exploding into literally thousand of pieces. His safety capsule worked flawlessly separating from the boat, then floating relatively unscathed and doing its job in protecting James. As of the last report I heard he was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. The beautiful yellow Hydro unfortunately is history.
The Top Alcohol Hydros were not that far behind the fuelers with speeds in the 220 m.p.h. range in qualifying. The TAH win went to Kent Price in the Black Draggin. Kent who knows the winners circle well turned in a 5.57 ET running 180.32 m.p.h. Andy Reynolds in the Deja Vue entry was his victim. Kent and Andy had qualified #3 and #4 respectively on Saturday.
The Top Alcohol Flats this weekend would be dominated by Don Bausher who was #1 qualifier and turned a very impressive 6.503 second ET at 163.58 m.p.h. for the win. Bausher and his crew chief, Jim Lange, obviously had the setup and tuning dialed in all weekend. The #2 qualifier, Don Ermshar in the traditionally very tough Mako Force boat, fell to a dreaded red light against Tony Scarlata in Don Jones’ Barely Legal in round one. Tony then got outrun by Steve Westerfield in All Lit Up in the semi to set the stage for the Bausher – Westerfield final. Westerfield won the championship for the season and Bausher won the World Finals, kind of a win-win deal in TAF.
Other class wins went to Brandon Johnson in Stock Eliminator, Dave Lipinski in Pro Comp Eliminator, Jim Tucker in Pro Eliminator, Keith Turley in River Racer, Bill McGuinn in Top Eliminator, Greg Carr in Modified Eliminator, and Scott Loomis in Pro-Modified.
The Super-Stock Circle boats also ran four races, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. These guys put on quite a show at Firebird on this tight short course. As has been the norm recently Dave Rankin’s SS-80, Wild Child, this weekend driven by Dave Bryant, dominated the field. Skip Tuttle in his SS-711 gave Dave a run for the money though and finished a strong second.
At the risk of redundancy, Drag Boat Racing seems to be alive and well at Phoenix. The great weather was icing on the cake. I spoke with a couple teams who were down from Oregon and they weren’t looking forward to towing home through the current rain and snowfall. I met several teams from Texas over the weekend as well. The World Finals at Firebird Raceway definitely continues to pull racers in from all over the nation. Firebird is a one-of-a-kind world class racing venue and a great destination that I would encourage anyone who likes drag boats to attend.
Pictures are presently being re-hosted and will be posted here soon (10/22/09)