Photos courtesy of Paul Dunlap
ERCU celebrated a fantastic 2021 racing season with it's annual End of Season Celebration at the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum, Saturday, Nov. 6.
Brian Perkins headlined the night as our special guest, sharing stories about how he got into racing at age 15 working weekends in Bill Wurster's shop before going on the road with the team the next year, about finding and racing his first 1 liter, and getting into the unlimiteds.
Brian spent 12 seasons driving for Brian and Greg O’Farrell’s Go Fast, Turn Left Racing Team, has nine podium finishes in his 13-year career, three of which came from the four races he ran in 2019.
Brian grew up in the Seattle area dreaming of driving a H1 Unlimited hydroplane like his boyhood heroes. It was a dream that was more realistic than for most because his family was active in the sport. He grew up around Seattle’s Stan Sayres Park every summer while his parents were involved as volunteers for Seattle’s Seafair trophy race. That familiarity with the hydroplanes led to him becoming a helper on Bill Wurster's team when he was only 15-years-old.
His father wasn't as excited about working on the hydros as Brian was, so Wurster allowed Brian to stay with him at his house on weekends while Brian did everything from sweeping floors to sorting bolts.
It was in the Wurster shop where Brian found his first hydroplane, a 1 liter, that needed some work. His dad made a deal to buy the boat and Brian went racing. With help from Scott Raney, Brian's "Perkins Glass" 1 liter turned into a rocket. That hull is now retired and hanging on the wall in the Museum. Brian went on to race 2.5 liter, unlimited lights and grand prix boats before getting his break in an unlimited.
His debut behind the wheel of an H1 Unlimited hydroplane came in 2007 when he drove the U-21 Meyers’ Auto Tech, campaigned by the Freedom Racing Team of San Diego.
Aside from the racecourse, one of his greatest accomplishments, he says, came in 2011 when he was driving the boat in San Diego. That’s when he met his wife Erin, who worked as an animal trainer at SeaWorld. The two live in North Bend, with their daughter Allie and are avid pleasure boaters and quite fond of Tollycrafts.
It really was a great season in ERCU, and thanks go out to everyone who participated this year. We had quite a bit of change throughout the season with some new rules, virus-driven restrictions, a new division of 1/7-scale, and more. As it turned out, we had one helluva season. The 1/10-scale classic season championship came down to the very last race of the season. We had four drivers Brandon Sano, Paxton Reunanen, Terry Harmer and Jay Fonville earn their first firsts this season, too.
The racing on the water was high quality and the sportsmanship on the beach was better than it’s been in quite some time. It’s a high-water year for ERCU and we’re proud of all that’s been done over the last couple of years – it’s time to celebrate that tonight.
Congratulations everyone and thanks for an awesome year!
Now to the awards:
1/10 Scale Modern Rookie of the Year: Two rookies stood out in 1/10 scale modern this year and David Heilbrunn & Mike Hughes were nominated by their peers for the 1/10-scale modern Rookie of the Year award. While David’s consistency throughout the season earned him second place in season points for this class, Mike’s total points in just three races – along with two race wins – including the Gold Cup – pushed him over the top for this award. This year’s 1/10-scale modern class Rookie of the Year is MIKE HUGHES.
1/7 Scale Modern Rookie of the Year: It’s true that none of the nominees for 1/7-scale modern this year were actual racing rookies, they were ALL rookies in ERCU for the division. And while the 1/7-scale field was dusting of the connectors and sorting things out early in the season, three drivers began to establish themselves as standouts. Nominees for the 2021 1/7-scale modern Rookie of the Year are: Nelson Holmberg, Craig Mullen and Denise Sjostrom. By winning eight races, including the Gold Cup, and the season points standings, NELSON HOLMBERG has been named the winner of this year’s Rookie of the Year in 1/7-scale modern.
1/10 Scale Classic Rookie of the Year: The 2021 season saw some serious competition in the 1/10 scale classic class, and the season championship came down to the last race of the season – the Gold Cup. Among those who impressed in the classic class this year were rookie of the year nominees Jay Fonville, David Heilbrunn, Chuck Murray and Paxton Reunanen. For winning the classic points championship, this year’s 1/10-scale classic class Rookie of the Year is DAVID HEILBRUNN.
1/10 Scale Vintage Rookie of the Year: This year’s 1/10-scale Rookie of the Year turned heads from the very first race he attended. His consistency and ever-present ability to finish in the thick of almost every heat he ran earned him this year’s award. The nominees for the 2021 1/10-scale vintage Rookie of the Year were Jay Fonville and Paxton Reunanen. This year’s 1/10-scale vintage class Rookie of the Year is JAY FONVILLE.
1/7 Scale Vintage Rookie of the Year: Nominess for the 17 scale vintage rookie of the year made the final decision really difficult. Both Terry Harmer and John Sjostrom were nominated for the award this year. Both had terrific seasons, with Terry winning two races, including the Gold Cup and John winning one race and the season championship. While it wasn’t easy, we had to make a decision and ultimately the bigger picture of the whole season won out. This year’s 1/7 scale vintage Rookie of the Year is JOHN SJOSTROM.
ERCU 1/10 Scale Most Improved Driver: There were a lot of drivers this year who deserved this award, and that was captured well by the members’ nominations of Jay Fonville, David Heilbrunn, Chuck Murray and Paxton Reunanen. By turning in one of the more impressive rookie seasons, in both 1/10 scale modern and vintage, this year’s most improved driver in the modern class gets to take home another award tonight. After completing a second-place finish in the modern standings and a points championship in classic, he’s certainly proven his improvement over the season. This year’s 1/10 scale division Most Improved Driver is DAVID HEILBRUNN.
ERCU 1/7 Scale Most Improved Driver: When the 1/7-scale season started, to be direct, I don’t think that many people were terribly impressed, and that was noted in the nominations for this year’s Most Improved Driver for 1/7 scale. One nominator said: “I nominate the entire 1/7-scale fleet. It was fun to watch the transformation from their first race of the year to the Gold Cup. It went from not many boats even finishing at the first race, to some of best and most competitive racing as the season progressed. Denise Sjostrom was also nominated for the award. With the awards bill we paid this year, you might think the winner of this award was the entire fleet. But no … the 2021 1/7 scale Most Improved Driver is DENISE SJOSTROM
ERCU Sportsmanship Award: Every year, the club puts a high standard on sportsmanship from its members, and every year, several members stand out as great sportsmen, who do the right thing, don’t complain, help other members with their boats and their racing, and help the club with officiating, set up, break down, and overall promotion of the club. This year, as usual, there were many members who could have won this award and the nominees were Ron Daum, Rick Evans and Bill Mowatt. When it came to decision time, one member really stood out, so for that, BILL MOWATT is this year’s winner of the ERCU Sportsmanship Award.
ERCU Contest Director of the Year: Those nominated for Contest Director of the Year included Brad Lewis and David Newton (Detroit Memorial Regatta), David Newton (Roger Newton Memorial), Nelson Holmberg, (Diamond Cup and Stan Sayres Memorial) and the ERCU Board of Directors for the ERCU Gold Cup. Sometimes the club needs new ideas. New perspective on things. In the case of 2021, that meant an entirely new race. But this wasn’t just ANY race. This race had prizes, new handmade trophies, a hot dog feed, and so much more. In thanks for all of their hard work putting together and hosting the inaugural Detroit Memorial Regatta, BRAD LEWIS and DAVID NEWTON are this year’s Contest Directors of the Year.
ERCU Contribution Awards: These awards are an opportunity for the Contest Board to say thank you to a few members who go above and beyond to provide a great amount of leadership, hard work and their own time – or even just sharing their enthusiasm for the hobby with the whole world – for the benefit of the club. This is often one of the most difficult awards to determine because so many members help out and it’s never fun to leave someone out. That said, thank you to all of the members who help the club all season every season. The nominees for this year’s Contribution Awards are: Joey Caines, Jerry Dunlap, Paul Dunlap, Rick Evans, Nelson Holmberg and Brad Lewis. And the winners of this year’s Contribution Awards are: PAUL DUNLAP and NELSON HOLMBERG
ERCU Sponsor of the Year: Without our sponsors, many of our races would be extremely expensive to put on. This year, three of our sponsors were recognized by members as ones who stood out and who we owe gratitude to. Those nominated for Sponsor of the Year include American SaniCan, Pentair and Roostertail Talk. For the fact that they donated a portable toilet to us for the Stan Sayres Memorial at Longview this year, AMERICAN SANICAN is the 2021 ERCU Sponsor of the Year. Seems like anyone who lets us pee for free like that is deserving of an award!
Hall of Champions: The Hall of Champions was created by Mike Campbell and the 2007-08 ERCU Contest Board shortly after Roger Newton passed away. It is an award intended to recognize a member who makes exceptional contributions to the club and who also demonstrates excellence on the racecourse. Roger was recognized, posthumously in 2008, as one of the club’s founders and prime developer in its early years by being given induction into the club’s Hall of Champions. Over the years, a number of really great racers – and club contributors – have had their names engraved on the Hall of Champions trophy. Nominees for this year’s award include Ron Daum, Jerry Dunlap, John & Dianne Earnest, Rick Evans, Kerry Kjos, David Newton. This year was easily the most frustrating season ever for the member we honor tonight. Covid has been a struggle for almost all of us. But because he couldn’t cross the border without having to quarantine for two weeks upon returning home, it made no sense for him to even try. All the while, he served his entire first term on the board of the directors without being able to attend a single race. He loved Joey Caines’ Facebook Live videos from our events, and he did so much work behind-the-scenes to make a significant impact on the club. So much impact, in fact, that he was re-elected to the club’s board even though some of us have not yet met him in person. As for his performance on the water, let’s just say that when he was racing with us, he pretty much dominated his heats and won plenty of races. RICK EVANS has spent a lot of time, effort, sweat and blood for the benefit of ERCU during his time in the club and in thanks for that, Rick is the winner of this year’s Hall of Champions award.
HIGH POINTS CHAMPIONS
1/10 Scale Modern Driver: Paul Dunlap, 2015 Dalton Industries
1/10 Scale Modern Boat: 2015 Dalton Industries, Owner: Rick Evans; Driver: Paul Dunlap
1/7 Scale Modern Driver: Nelson Holmberg, 1972 Notre Dame
1/7 Scale Modern Boat: 1972 Notre Dame, Owner: Gary Hansen; Driver: Nelson Holmberg
1/10 Scale Classic Driver: David Heilbrunn, 1984 Executone
1/10 Scale Classic Boat: 1984 Executone, David Heilbrunn
1/10 Scale Vintage Driver: David Newton, 1960 Miss Thriftway
1/10 Scale Vintage Boat: 1960 Miss Thriftway, Owner: Kerry Kjos; Driver: David Newton
1/7 Scale Vintage Driver: John Sjostrom, 1960 Miss Thriftway
1/7 Scale Vintage Boat: 1960 Miss Thriftway, John Sjostrom