LACEY, Wash. – Five different drivers won final heats at the 2022 season opening Champion Spark Plug Regatta at Woodland Creek Park on Saturday.
And three of the five posted perfect days.
Mike Hughes started the final heat action completing the first of those three 1,600 point days. His blistering fast 1991 Winston Eagle wasn’t seriously challenged by Nelson Holmberg’s reinvigorated 2018 Oberto Beef Jerky, which finished second, in the 1/10 scale modern final. Third place went to Ron Daum’s 2004 Llumar Window Films while fourth went to rookie Tom Markos with the 2015 Graham Trucking U-7. Markos made the final in his first-ever race. David Heilbrunn’s new 2021 Goodman Real Estate was unable to start the final. Hughes was the first to finish the day with an unblemished record.
In 1/7-scale modern, Holmberg had won all three preliminaries with his 2021 Graham Trucking and his boat was fast. By the time the checkered flag flew on the final, it was clear that David Newton and his 1970 Pride of Pay ‘n Pak (hemi) was even faster. Had Newton not been required to start as a trailer as a new 1/7-scale racer, chances are good he would have won the race. As it turned out, Newton was second by half a straightaway. Third place went to David Heilbrunn with his brand new, handbuilt 2021 Goodman Real Estate. Denise Sjostrom with her 1974 Miss U.S. was unable to start.
The 1/10 scale classic final was one for the ages, when Jay Fonville showed that every now and then the trailer boat CAN win a final heat. Fonville, who was still excited after passing and beating Newton’s 1982 Miss Prodelco in the connie, dueled with Heilbrunn’s defending points champion 1984 Executone. Fonville’s 1976 Spirit of Dayton Walther turned out to be the faster boat on this day and took the checkered flag first. Heilbrunn was second and finished the day with 1,125 points – most in the class. DNFs in the classic final went to Rick Evans’ 1973 Red Man Too (800 points), Paxton Reunanen’s 1979 Squire Shop (800 points), and Gentleman Jim Latimer’s 1985 U-33 (1,025 points).
As the day begun to wind down during the 4 o’clock hour, the 1/10 scale vintage drivers and crews began to bring boats to the water. It promised to be a fast, and competitive heat with the 1960 Miss Thriftway, 1963 Tahoe Miss, 1962 $ Bill and 1964 Miss Exide had scored at least 925 points over the course of the day. Newton earned his spot in the final by winning the vintage first connie with the Exide. Bill Mowatt’s 1968 Miss Bardahl, which took second in the vintage first connie also made the final when Reunanen pulled his Coe-Z-Miss out of the final so he could drive the Miss Thriftway. Bill’s Bardahl started as the trailer in the final.
When the roostertails settled on the 1/10-scale vintage final, Reunanen had claimed the checkered flag, followed by Geoffry Grembowski in the $ Bill. Third went to Mowatt in the 1968 Miss Bardahl. DNFs went to Fonville in the Tahoe Miss, which blew over while trying to overtake the Thriftway, and Newton in the Exide, which rolled in turn one of the first lap. Reunanen also claimed top honors in the first leg of the vintage Triple Crown, posting a perfect 1,600-point day with the Miss Thriftway.
The 1960 Miss Thriftway was well represented in scale proportions at the Champion Spark Plug Regatta, as John Sjostrom drove his 1/7 scale version of the hull to victory in the 1/7 scale vintage final. With just three boats registered for the race in this class, it was an abbreviated final after John’s wife Denise saw her 1980 Evergreen Roofing unable to finish. Jim McKeon’s 1957 Maverick (the day’s 1/7-scale Triple Crown winner with 869 points) was unable to start the final, so John had to just run three clean laps and the victory was his.
Only one major accident marred the day, when the 2015 Dalton Industries spun out in front of the 2018 Oberto and the collision was reminiscent of the 2011 running of the H1 Unlimited Indiana Governor’s Cup in Madison when the Ellstrom U-16 hit a hole and spun out coming out of turn one and the Oberto ran over it. In Saturday’s case, just like in Madison, it was ruled a racing incident as nothing could be done to avoid the collision. While both boats sustained damage, Oberto was able to continue racing and eventually won the heat. The Dalton was retired for the day and Oberto was taped up to continue racing.
Many thanks need to be spread around for the running of a fantastic event on April 2. Co-Contest Directors Jerry and Paul Dunlap put on a terrific race, keeping things going while also keeping it positive and fun. Paul, Daum, and Grembowski kept the computer going and did a bang-up job in scoring the race. Hughes, Mowatt, Paul and Jerry spent much of their day between the heats they ran in officiating heats which was much appreciated. The whole group chipped in to help with cleanup and getting the boat back on top of the trailer.
And finally, it must be stated in our race recap that it was great to have Evans back in the pits for the first time after a two-year Covid-forced absence. Always nice to have Rick in the pits!