Champion Spark Plug Regatta

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Woodland Creek Community Park (Lacey, Washington)


Race Format

  • Points Race

  • Four preliminary heats of five laps each for vintage, classic and modern classes

  • Boat with highest total points is race winner in all three classes

  • Vintage Triple Crown Series event #1

2020 Race Results


Modern Class

1. Ron Daum, 2009 Grandview on the Lake

2. Nelson Holmberg, 2018 Oberto

3. Len Taylor, 2013 Graham Trucking


Classic Class

1. Nelson Holmberg, 1987 Oh Boy! Oberto

2. Jerry Dunlap, 1985 Boat

3. Bill Mowatt, 1986 Miss Houston

4. Brandon Sano, 1974 Weisfields Jewelers

Vintage Class

1. Jerry Dunlap, 1957 Hawaii Kai III (Owner: Ben Keller)

2. Nelson Holmberg, 1975 Oh Boy! Oberto

3. Ron Daum, 1957 Miss U.S.

Vintage Triple Crown

1. Nelson Holmberg, 1975 Oh Boy! Oberto, 500 points

2. Ron Daum, 1957 Miss U.S., 370 points

3. Jerry Dunlap, 1957 Hawaii Kai III, 90 points

Champion Spark Plug Results

Race History

Vintage Class Race Winners

2004 — 1957 Hawaii Ka’i III. Owner/Driver: Roger Newton. (Shady Lake, Renton)

2005 — 1970 Pay ‘n Pak Lil’ Buzzard. Owner/Driver: Jeff Campbell. 

2006 — 1970 Pay ‘n Pak Lil’ Buzzard. Owner/Driver: Jeff Campbell. 

2007 — 1971 Hallmark Homes. Owner: Jeff Campbell. Driver: Jason Hartley. 

2008 — 1969 Pay ‘n Pak Outrigger. Owner/Driver: Jeff Campbell. 

2009 — 1963 Notre Dame. Owner/Driver: Bob VandenAkker. 

2010 — 1969 Pay ‘n Pak Outrigger. Owner/Driver: Jeff Campbell. 

2011 — 1970 Parco’s O-Ring Miss. Owner/Driver: Gerry Bordon. 

2012 — 1970 Parco’s O-Ring Miss. Owner/Driver: Gerry Bordon. 

2013 — 1971 Miss Madison. Owner/Driver: Ron Forister. 

2014 — 1960 Miss Thriftway. Owner/Driver: Kerry Kjos. 

2015 — No race

2016 — No race

2017 — Miss U.S. 5. Owner/Driver: Len Taylor

2018 — 1969 Miss Schweppes. Owner/Driver: JimmeJames Cusworth

2019 — 1957 Hawaii Kai III. Owner: Ben Keller. Driver: Jerry Dunlap

2020 — 1957 Hawaii Kai III. Owner: Ben Keller. Driver: Jerry Dunlap, 1,500 points


Classic Class Race Winners

2020 — 1987 Oh Boy! Oberto. Owner/Driver: Nelson Holmberg, 1,169 points

Modern Class Race Winners

2004 — 1970 Pride of Pay ‘n Pak. Owner/Driver: Jeff Campbell. (Shady Lake, Renton)

2005 — 1974 Country Boy. Owner/Driver: Mike Campbell. 

2006 — 1970 Pride of Pay ‘n Pak. Owner/Driver: Jeff Campbell. 

2007 — 1974 Country Boy. Owner/Driver: Mike Campbell. 

2008 — 1978 Miss Circus Circus. Owner/Driver: Mike Gossler. 

2009 — 1982 Executone. Owner/Driver: Mike Campbell. 

2010 — 1974 U-95. Owner/Driver: Rick Lentz. 

2011 — 1977 Charlie’s Girl. Owner/Driver: Bill Smiley. 

2012 — 2010 Formula Boats. Owner/Driver: Nelson Holmberg. 

2013 — 1986 Boat. Owner/Driver: Mike Campbell. 

2014 — 2012 Graham Trucking. Owner/Driver: Nelson Holmberg. 

2015 — No race

2016 — No race

2017 — 2011 Valken. Owner/Driver: JimmeJames Cusworth

2018 — 2011 Valken. Owner/Driver: JimmeJames Cusworth

2019 — 1972 Notre Dame. Owner/Driver: Rick Evans

2020 — 2009 Grandview on the Lake. Owner/Driver: Ron Daum, 1,100 points

*Unless Otherwise Noted - Race was Held at Fort Borst Park, Centralia




History of the Real Champion Spark Plug Regatta


From 1971-83, Champion Spark Plugs sponsored the season opening Champion Spark Plug Regatta at Miami Marine Stadium in Miami, Fla.


This race often times sets the stage for how things would turn out during the coming season, even though the course was a tight 2 mile oval on salt water.


Over the 13 race history of the event, legendary driver Bill Muncey won five times and Dean Chenoweth won four times. Miss Budweiser was the all-time race win leader at the Champion Spark Plug Regatta by taking six titles home, including each of the last four. Atlas Van Lines won five, including each of the four prior to the Miss Budweiser win streak in the event’s final years.


Other winning drivers include Mickey Remund (1973), Howie Benns (1974), Billy Schumacher (1975) and Jim Kropfeld (1983).


The only year that the Champion Spark Plug Regatta didn’t kick off the season was 1983 – it’s final year – when the season started at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.



By Jerry Dunlap

The weather forecast for the Saturday, April 6 Champion Sparkplug Regatta at Centralia’s Borst Lake was rather ominous. When the participants arrived and began setting up it appeared the foreboding prediction might be accurate. Luckily, the rain and really high winds subsided for the most part just prior to the Drivers’ Meeting. Located in a sheltered surrounding, Borst Lake is somewhat protected from the wind. Unfortunately, at various times during the event the wind managed to transform several “hydroplanes” into “planes” resulting in boats landing with their propellers pushing air and not water. Even a prop with an abundance of pitch doesn’t provide sufficient thrust to move an upside down 1/10 Scale Unlimited. 

With only six boats entered in the Vintage Class, two heats of three boats rounds the top four boats will advance to the Final. If there are sufficient boats for a Consolation Race, the winner of the Consolation will advance to the final as the trailer boat. The Vintage Class boats definitely were impacted by the wind, especially on the front straightaway. It seemed like there was at least one blow over in each of the Vintage Class qualifying heats.  a round were raced with the top five after four rounds advancing to the Vintage Final. 


For the 2019 ERCU racing season, after four qualifying rounds, Jimme James Cusworth and the 1969 Miss Schwepps was TQ with 1500 points. Cautiously driving the 1955 Hawaii Kai III, I was the second qualifier with 1300 points. Robbie Roberts qualified the 1971 Hallmark Homes with 1200 points. Len Taylor’s 1968 Bardahl’s 225 points earned him a place in the Vintage Final when Ron Daum and Gerry Borden had to scratch their boats from competition due to mechanical issues. During mill time for the Final, Jimme James cut the entrance buoy in the left turn and Robbie Roberts jumped the start. That left Len and me as two boats without a one lap penalty. At some point during the Final, Robbie’s boat quit and Jimme James was able to come around, pass Len and move into second. The Kai was running very well and I was able to hold off Jimme James and win my first ERCU Vintage Class race with Ben Keller’s Kai. Len was able to finish third. Total points for Vintage Class are: Jimme James – 1800, Jerry 1700, Robbie -1200 Ron Daum’s 1957 Thriftway Too 525, Len Taylor 450, Gerry Bordon’s 1970 Parco’s O-Ring Miss 400.

Nine boats entered Modern Class with Rick Evans entering his 1972 Notre Dame and new for this racing season his 1973 Red Man Too. For the first round in Modern, two heats of five and four boats were drawn. With a limited number of participants, both heats in round one proved challenging since almost everyone was either racing, coaching, or serving as the referee or corner judge.   The remaining three qualifying rounds were divided into three boat a heat. The four boats qualifying for the Modern Final were Rick’s Notre Dame with 1600 points after four qualifying heat wins, the 2011 Valken belonging to Jimme James with 1400, Len Taylor’s 2012 Spirit of Qatar with 1127, and Jerry Bordon’s 1974 Miss U.S. with 1100. Rick earned 1150 points with his Red Man Too but elected not to have it race in the final. Paul Dunlap with the 1985 Tempus and Nelson Holmberg with his new 2018 Oberto were the boats in the Modern Class Consolation Race. Paul held a slight lead for most the Consolation until the Tempus rolled over in the left corner with one lap remain allowing Nelson the Oberto to advance to the Final.

Rick Evans nailed the start of the Modern Final with his 1972 Notre Dame and drove five very consistent laps to lead from start to finish. Starting just behind Rick, but unable to catch the Notre Dame, Jimme James’ 2011 Valken placed second. Driving the 2018 Oberto in its first Final, Nelson placed third when Len’s Spirit of Qatar DNS and Gerry’s Miss U.S. DNF. The total point count for the Modern Class after one of ten race s(top eight races count for points):  Rick Evans/1972 Notre Dame – 2000, Jimme James Cusworth/2011 Valken – 1700, Nelson Holmberg/2018 O’Berto – 1200, Rick Evan/1973 Red Man Too – 1150, Len Taylor/2012 Spirit of Qatar – 1127, Gerry Bordon/1974 Miss U.S. – 1100, Ron Daum/2009 Grandview on the Lake – 994, Paul Dunlap/1985 Tempus – 694, Robbie Roberts/2017 Spirit of Detroit – 627.


I would like to thank the ERCU members who participated in this year’s Champion Spark Plug Regatta for ignoring the unfavorable weather forecast and some rain and wind during the event for making the trip to Centralia. I believe Borst Lake is a unique model boating venue. I also want to especially thank Teresa for walking up and down the pit area announcing the upcoming heats. And to my son, Paul, thanks for all the time you spent in the rowboat and having to deal with a broken oar lock the last few heats. 

Rick Evans made the most of his trip to Centralia winning four qualifying heats and the final in Modern with his Notre Dame.   Rick’s new Red Man Too looks very promising as well. Although Nelson Holmberg’s new 2018 Oberto wasn’t the fastest boat in Modern, Nelson’s third place finish in the Modern Final proved that “fast” is nice but “finish” is better. Hopefully, our Diamond Cup Regatta at Longview’s Lake Sacajawea on Saturday April 20 will be blessed with weather more favorable to racing model boats instead of flying kites.