MARYSVILLE – Saturday July 22 marked the 15th running of the ERCU Bernie Little Memorial regatta. Reports from Gissberg Twin Lakes Park indicate this event was a rip-roaring success. The weather was picture perfect and the racing was just as spectacular, if not maybe more so.
Bernie Little himself would have been pleased with just one exception – that the only Miss Budweiser in the field found itself upside down not once, but twice, and this Miss Budweiser was being piloted by all-world scale hydroplane driver extraordinaire, David Newton. The second of David and the 2003 Miss Budweiser’s mishaps occurred during the 1/10 modern final heat where David and Bernie had to be disappointed with the DNF. Nelson Holmberg jumped on the opportunity and piloted his 2023 Bucket List racing to its second consecutive ERCU 1/10 modern victory. To make this feat even more impressive, Holmberg started five seconds behind the field as the trailer boat just sneaking into the final by way of winning the consolation heat.
But wait, there’s even more, much more.
Firsts were more than just special finishes on the water.
In just her second scale racing event of her life, ERCU’s newest member, Brianna Burdsall qualified for the 1/10 modern final heat by amassing the second highest point total of all the boats in the class on the day. Driving her 1988 Sutphen Spirit, Brianna entered the final heat second in points on the day and then followed the Bucket List boat closely to the finish line taking second place while besting veteran drivers Paxton Reunenen, David Heilbrunn, Chuck Murray and Ron Daum.
And Mike McIntosh won his first scale RC race ever. “Mike Mac”, appropriately, wore a t-shirt that the former Miss Budweiser crew (which he was on) honored Bernie with. It says “Congratulations Bernie Little. Miss Budweiser #100. From your ‘Bud’ crew”. It commemorates the Miss Budweiser’s 100th race win. There’s no doubt that Bernie would have been proud of McIntosh on this day.
The 1/7 scale vintage races were crowd favorites treating them to the closest racing heats of the day. Time and time again the 1/7 vintage drivers finished within milliseconds of each other. Dennis Caines orchestrated one of the most beautiful final laps in club memory, piloting his 1968 Eagle Electric to a come-from-behind photo finish victory in heat 2A. The following heat saw nearly an instant replay when Bob Van den Akker took his 1962 $ Bill past Mike McIntosh’s 1973 Miss Island Security System by an eyelash in heat 2B. Newton ultimately took home the top trophy driving his Hawaii Kai III to a perfect 1600-point day. He was joined on the podium by McIntosh who took second and Van den Akker who came in third.
In 1/10 vintage, there wasn’t much drama as Newton topped all competitors driving Kerry Kjos 1960 Thriftway once again. Second place went to Murray and his 1955 Hawaii Kai with third place going to Bill Mowatt and his 1968 Checkerboard Miss Bardahl.
The 1/10 scale classic class featured some great preliminary heats and an action-packed final heat too. Once the roostertails settled, Reunenen topped all competitors with his 1983 Miss Rock KISW to stand atop the podium. Second place was taken by Murray in his 1983 Miss Houston and Newton finished in third with Murray’s 1976 Olympia Beer boat.
In the 1/7 modern class action, Mike McIntosh exhibited his veteran driving prowess in the 1980 Pay ‘n Pak, as he won the final heat with a half lap to spare over second place David Heilbrunn’s 2021 Goodman Real Estate with Holmberg’s 2021 Graham Trucking getting third place by default, after withdrawing due to drive line failure. While Rob Edwards ran his 1982 Gilmore Special physically with the 1/7 modern boats on the water due to being the only 1/7 modern in the pits, he was awarded full classic class points and the race win.
Mark your calendars because next up is the ERCU Governers Cup which is scheduled for August 12th also at Marysville Twin Lakes Park.
The eighth race of the 2023 ERCU Pentair Championship Series is the Bernie Little Memorial, set for Saturday, July 22, 2023, at Gissberg Twin Lakes Park in Marysville. Here is all you need to know to be prepared for the eighth event of the year.
This is the first time since 2018 that the club is running the Bernie Little Memorial. It was the first one chosen to be added when we adopted a 12 race schedule for the 2023 racing season.
Gissberg Twin Lakes Park
16324 Twin Lakes Ave., Marysville, WA 98271
Bernie Little (1926-2003) was the most successful owner in unlimited hydroplane racing history. His Miss Budweiser team won 134 of the 354 races it entered. Miss Budweiser won the high points championship 22 years in 40 years of competition, and the APBA Gold Cup 14 times. His first victory came on the Columbia River in the Tri-Cities in 1966 at the Columbia Cup. Little's team is also known for making an enclosed driver's cockpit to improve driver safety. Little has been inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994. Bernie supported RC hydroplane racing for many years, and even sponsored R/C Unlimited for a few years. His significant contributions to the sport will never be forgotten.
Parking Details – IMPORTANT
Only three vehicles are allowed beyond the gate at a time to unload by Snohomish County Parks, and park rangers do occasionally patrol the park to monitor this regulation. To enter, you need to have one of our three batons. If none are near the entrance gate post, please wait for someone exiting to park to pass one if the batons to you. Exceptions: the trailer hauling vehicle and those with valid state handicapped parking permits are allowed to enter and remain without a baton.
What to Expect
(All times approximate, and subject to change)
Pre-Registration for the Bernie Little Memorial is now open. To find the pre-registration form, navigate your web browser to https://www.ercu-hydros.com/bernie-little-memorial.html, where you will find the pre-registration link in a blue box just under the race site map. Pre-registration will close at 10 p.m., Friday, July 7. After that deadline, please register in person on site before 8:30 a.m.
You can also find pre-registration by going to www.ercu-hydros.com, then selecting “Schedule” from the main menu, and “Bernie Little Memorial” from the schedule itself.
The drivers meeting is mandatory for ALL divisions and all classes and will begin at the scorer’s table within five minutes of the closing of the testing period. Drivers who do not attend the drivers meeting will be scratched from the first heat regardless of whether they are pre-registered or pre-paid. Drivers arriving after the drivers meeting will not be added to the event until the draw for the second flight of heats.
Bernie Little Memorial Defending Champions (2018, the last time the Bernie Little Memorial was run)
Post-Race Cleanup and Awards Presentation
Club equipment cleanup and re-packing the trailer will take priority once the race is over. Once the trailer is re-packed, awards will be presented. Awards will be given to the first, second and third place finishers, first connie and Triple Crown winners. All members have a responsibility to help with set up and breakdown of club equipment. As a courtesy to your fellow racers, please stick around for the awards presentation whether you’ve won one or not.
The forecast for the Bernie Little Memorial is sunny skies and 75 degrees with a 5 mph breeze out of the south-southwest and a 5 percent chance of rain.
There are public restrooms available on site, and they are expected to be open.
There is no access to electricity in the pits. It would be wise to bring a generator or other power source to charge your batteries if you need to charge during the day.
Many thanks to David Newton, Jason Walters and Mark Gran for the photos in the above Roger Newton Memorial slideshow.
Perfect weather, great water conditions, new faces, new boats and a near-record turnout of boats highlighted the Roger Newton Memorial on Saturday at Woodland Creek Park in Lacey.
It couldn't have been much better.
The day started with successful drivers tests for Briana Bursdall and Brian Perkins, adding two new drivers to the club's ranks.
A total of 57 boats filled the field and provided for the deepest field for racing we've had all season. It also allowed for second consolations to be run for the first time in recent memory. The club record for turnout is 62 boats during a race at Lake Wilderness (Maple Valley) in the early 2010s. Fifty seven boats is the second-largest turnout in the history of the club.
As tradition dictates, Contest Director David Newton killed it with amazing prizes -- including gift certificates from Offshore Electrics, laser kit wood boat kits from ML Boatworks, and a 3D printed dummy motor from Spartacus Boatworks. David also coordinated a best of scale contest, judged by the panel of Gentleman Jim Latimer, Don Mock and Rich Matkin.
Best of scale winners included Dennis Caines' 1968 Eagle Electric, Mick Shutt's 1972 Miss Budweiser and Paxton Reunanen's 2019 Graham Trucking American Dream. Honorable mention went to Nelson Holmberg's 2023 Bucket List Racing.
On the water, there was lots of competitive racing.
In the 1/10 scale modern final, three boats nailed the start together, and as the spray settled coming out of turn one, the 2023 Bucket List Racing driven by Nelson Holmberg had the lead. After an accident in the back stretch, the Bucket List drove to victory, followed by Jason Walters' 2018 Oberto Beef Jerky and Dylan Hirano's 1993 Miss Circus Circus (two wing). Holmberg also won the 1/10 modern first connie, driving Ron Hartley's 2011 Degree Men. Latimer drove the Degree Men in the final, but after a perfect trailer start, batteries let him down and he parked the boat in the infield just after the start.
Holmberg followed up his 1/10 modern win with a win in 1/7 scale modern, driving the 2021 Graham Trucking to first, followed by Mike McIntosh with his 1980 Pay 'n Pak (turbine) and third went to David Heilbrunn in the 2021 Goodman Real Estate.
Driving Chuck Murray's 1976 Olympia Beer, David Newton took the title in the 1/10 classic final heat. Second went to Jay Fonville with the 1976 Spirit of Dayton Walther, completing a top-two sweep of 1976 Jones hulls. Third -- in the form of the last DNF of the heat -- went to Jerry Dunlap's 1986 Boat.
Craig Mullen was also a hired gun, and driving Denise Sjostrom's 1974 Miss U.S., Mullen claimed the win in the 1/7 scale classic final. Second went to Paxton Reunanen driving Hartley's 1974 Lincoln Thrift. Third, in the form of the last DNF of the heat, was Rob Edwards in the 1982 Gilmore Special.
In 1/10 scale vintage, Newton took a break from driving the 1960 Miss Thriftway and ended up winning the race with his own 1957 Hawaii Kai III, in honor of his mom Marti. Second in the final went to Bill Mowatt and his 1968 Miss Bardahl -- finishing on the podium after winning both the second connie and the first connie to earn his spot in the final. Third place went to Latimer's 1960 Miss Everett.
With two gun jumpers in the 1/7 scale final, the outcome of the race was totally up in the air. Finishing first was Fonville's 1975 Kirby Classic. Second went to McIntosh's brand new 1982 Island Security Systems and third was Jerry Dunlap, driving Dennis Caines' 1968 Miss Eagle Electric.
When all was said and done, Reunanen was the big winner of the overall high points award that's another tradition at the Newton Memorial. Reunanen scored 6,298 points with six boats to take the top scorer crown. That said, he also was victim of a lot of bad luck, and boat damage, and thus took home the traditional toilet trophy too.
Many thanks to David Newton for all of the personal time and resources that he put into this year's Roger Newton Memorial, yet another outstanding special event on the ERCU Racing Schedule. He certainly did his dad proud.