NJBA Thunder in the Channel, March 2009
by , 10-22-2009 at 04:01 AM (3555 Views)
Thunder In The Channel
It was over a decade since professional drag boat racing had graced the waters of Lake Elsinore California. That all changed on Saturday, March 21st when the NJBA brought out just under one hundred dragboats and enticed over two thousand fans to the shores of Lake Elsinore.
We arrived around 9 AM Saturday to a crowded parking lot and a long line of fans. Racing was already underway. I would learn later from the NJBA officials that this was by far the largest showing of fans to an NJBA race in a long time if not ever. The volunteer NJBA staff certainly had their hands full in a number of areas but appear to have done a great job, all things considered.
There were some heavy hitter teams in attendance including several blown alcohol flats and hydros many of which don’t regularly attend NJBA races. Mike Fry in the #437 “Mean Streak” Top Alcohol Hydro laid down a 5.49 ET at 223+ MPH Saturday afternoon. Kebin Kinsley in the #150 “Bad Habit” ran a 5.66 ET pass as well. In all there were five TAH’s in attendance.
I will interject here that windy weather conditions on Sunday unfortunately would restrict racing to only a few passes (Sunday) and ultimately cancel the event mid-day. So the class wins were decided by the best qualifying passes from Saturday. Saturday was such a beautiful day it was a real shame for the NJBA, the city of Lake Elsinore, and the fans. A Sunday of continued nice weather just wasn’t to be and the wind was king.
The Top Alcohol Flat class was well represented as well. Don Ermshar would take the win with a 6.72 ET in the #674 “Mako Force” boat. Steve Westerfield in the #001 “All Lit Up” would grab the #2 spot with a 7.13 ET pass. Four others would round out the class including Andy Dement, Tony Costantino, Bill Diez, and Denis Porter.
Continuing through the classes, in Blown Fuel Jet only one boat was present, Frank Nagore who laid down a 7.36 ET. It is very unfortunate that Frank’s boat crashed at the end of the track and he was very seriously injured, Saturday mid-morning. As of this writing Frank remains hospitalized and is showing signs of improvement. Thoughts and prayers are with Frank and his family for a speedy recovery.
Blown Gas Flat had five competitors and the honors would go to Edward Darr in the #146 “Flat Nasty” boat with a 8.29 ET. Blown Gas Jet would see Tom Cress take the trophy with a 8.38 ET pass in the #440 “Lunatic Fringe” boat. Pro Gas Jet saw 7 boats competing and Rob Burklin with a 8.90 ET taking the win in the #150 “The Red Pearl” entry. Pro-Mod had 6 boats with Shawn Reed laying down a blistering 7.022 ET for the win in the #716 “Top Secret” boat. Seven boats were entered in Pro Unlimited Flat and Tom Fulkerson took the win with a 7.85 ET in the #014 “Closenuff” boat. Joe Morgan would best nine other racers in the Unblown Fuel Jet class for the win with a 7.72 ET in his #000 “Here Comes Whitey”.
Many boats in NJBA do double duty in the above classes as well as the brackets. The bracket winners, again based on qualifying ET’s are as follows. The 7 second class, Denis Porter in the #034 TAF “Butterfly”. The 8 second class, which was very competitive with twenty entries, Austin Cameron with an 8.080 ET in the #717 UBFJ entry. The 9 second class, Stephen Stuart in the #104 “Ruckus” BGF. The 10 second class, Randall Docken in the #043 “UFO” boat. The 11 second class, Pete McConnell in the #636 “Mr. Wrinkles” entry. The 12 second class, Chuck Armand in the only class entry, the #813 “Desperado”.
In spite of the bad weather Sunday the NJBA and the city were very happy with the event. With their historical venue at Lake Ming currently under construction and the scheduled April event already cancelled, could there be another NJBA race as early as May at Lake Elsinore? We will have to see what the future holds. At press time there has been discussions in that direction I hear. The channel at Lake Elsinore appears to be an ideal venue for dragboat racing. We hope to see another event there soon and possibly part of the regular NJBA schedule in future years.
Pictures are presently being re-hosted and will be posted here soon (10/22/09)
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