“Chaplains Blog Book … San Diego … part I”
Jim & Linda Jack
Ah, San Diego, California; what a delight to be there in the middle of September (fall started this weekend you know) when the temperatures are nearly perfect. Linda and I were in Bakersfield, CA the previous weekend for the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event and the weather was hot and sticky (along with their notorious nitro flies), and we were looking forward to the IHBA race in scenic San Diego.
San Diego is a special place to race, where John and Cathy Flores always welcome everyone; racers, former racers, fans and the folks in this booming boating community with open arms and open minds … as the drag boat portion of the Mission Bay “Thunder Boat Regatta” caters to the circle boats first, but the IHBA drag boats always seem to steal the show with some real thunder of their own.
On the Thursday morning early news on TV, the reporter said that some sewage had leaked into Mission Bay and they didn’t know if the race was going to happen? The beautiful beaches were posted with signs “Keep out of the water.” But John Flores did an incredible interview on one of the local news channels with flawless and precise words said by a true professional about the IHBA racing in the bay over the next three days and the racing was surely going to happen. John knows how to handle a great interview, speaking the proper words at the drop of a question. Our hats are off to John and Cathy for putting on a great race in a difficult venue.
Thursday evening we had dinner with Super Gas drag racers Bob and Norma Mendenhall (we stay with when in San Diego) and Chip and Jean Rumis (who won in his six second Top Dragster at Bakersfield the previous weekend) at a very enjoyable restaurant called “Izzies” in El Cajon, CA. They only serve dinner Thursday through Saturday, and that full rack of baby back ribs was wonderful.
Friday dawned beautifully with the drivers ready to test the waters of Mission Bay. A few sportsmen hit the in ramp as soon as it was open. The rest of the boats, including an impressive lineup of six Top Fuel boats were busy getting ready for the weekends action.
Chowchilla TFH winner Mark Workentine in Jay Haroutunian’s “Whiskey River” was the first fueler at the ramp ready to rock and roll. After praying with Mark to have a safe run, the boat was launched by the National Guard folks driving some cool hum-vees. Mark fired up the motor and blasted off the line in the right lane on his way to a respectable run … but at about a third of the way down the liquid quarter mile, the boat started to get a little loose, but Mark stayed with it and just before half track the boat was out of control and had a violent crash.
We ran to our truck and made it to the out ramp at the top end before the great IHBA “Rescue” guys brought Mark in to the waiting ambulance. As they got to shore, Mark was still in the capsule and he got out on his own power. He waded in calve deep water to the ambulance and stepped inside saying that he was all right, just shaken up a little. The adrenalin was still kicking in and he was very distraught because he had just crashed Jay’s boat. Mark said it was “Trucking pretty well, and I don’t know what happened.”
Mark also told me, “I crash my sprint car almost every week.” And I responded “Not at 200 mph!” After being checked out, he was taken to the other side of Mission Bay to the first aid center, and then was released a little while later, then called his mother to tell her what happened.
The crash made the TV news all over the country not long after it happened. I received a call from one our chaplains in PA about it and various racers received calls from their families asking how Mark was doing. Mark even got a call to be on the “Today” show on the following Monday and he flew there to be interviewed on TV. This crash gave drag boat racing a lot of publicity, and thankfully Mark walked away from the incident. Thank you Lord for protecting Mark!
Some of the boats made some decent runs on Friday … Tim Kelley broke in his new motor (he blew up the old one in Marble falls) in his “Alter Ego” PE with a nice 8.06. Terry Kain has finally got his PM “Screaming Seaman” running and ran a 7.09. Kebin Kinsley ran a 5.72 and 207 on a check out pass in Eddie Pacilio’s “Bad Habit” TAH. With good air and at times iffy water, test and tune is important in San Diego.
Saturday’s qualifying was lead by the perennial great running Pro Mod “Crap Shoot” boat driven by Scott Loomis who ran a 7.004, just shy of a perfect run. Terry Kain ran another 7.09 to show that he’s close in this tough class. Kebin Kinsley improved to a 5.65 at 210, but Kent Price stepped up his “Black Dragin” with a stout 5.37 at 218 mph to lead the TAH’s. Don Ermshar led the TAF’s with a 6.82 at 162 mph; Steve Westerfield was second at 6.85, with Don Bausher third at 6.92.
The “Toxic Rocket” led Top Fuel with a 5.00 and right behind him was the “Speed Sports” with a 5.02 and Jarrett Silvey third at 5.22. Rex Childers and Greg Tedesco rounded out five boat field with the sixth boat “Whiskey River” out of commission.
Gary Davis led the PE’s with an 8.06 followed by Allen Forsyth’s 8.09 and Tim Kelly’s 8.10. Jay Johnston qualified first in SE with an 11.05, and Roger Sayles was the RR number one at 12.02.
On Saturday, the “Loose Cannon” was swamped while on the holding rope and sunk as the first round of TFH was being run. Unfortunately, the boat had to be left in the water for quite a while, and then when “Rescue” was attempting to get it up and out of the water one of the straps broke and the little “Rescue” boat sunk too.
Now there were two boats underwater. Eventually the “Loose Cannon” was brought to shore (the in ramp) with the help of maybe fifty people tugging on a rope (like tug-of-war) as the “Rescue” boat and crew were guiding the TFH to shore. It was quite a sight to see all these people working to get Greg’s boat back onto land and into the pits. The “Loose Cannon” crew worked until the wee hours of the morning to get the boat ready for Sunday’s eliminations.
Jane Bradley “Wine Me UP” finally got her first win in SE and along with the win moved into first place in the point’s battle. Nice going Jane! She was ecstatically “On cloud nine” she told me after her victory. Gary Davis “Centsless” got his second straight win and has moved into contention in PE class. The IHBA Finals will be a real barn-burner for sure.
Glen Wilson and the “Toxic Rocket” ran straight on every run and ended up winning TFH running 234 mph in the final for top speed of the meet as the “Loose Cannon” didn’t make it too far down the track. Joe Cassidy has a new big rig trailer and it is wrapped in beautiful red vinyl with a huge picture of the boat with header flames and it gives drag boat racing a shot in the arm for looking professional. Our hats are off to Joe and the team for looking good and running good too.
In TAH, Kebin Kinsley ran his best run of the weekend in the final, a 5.55, but it wasn’t good enough to beat Kent Price as he stormed to a 5.36 victory pass. And Don Ermshar again defeated Steve Westerfield with another consistent 6.61. And Scott Loomis once again won PM beating Steve Rajcic.
Sunday also had its share of troubles. During the first round of TFH, John Haas and the “Speed Sports” boat started slowly in gear. The boat crept forward (with the other boats also moving slowly) with the rope in John’s left hand, the scaffold on the shore (holding up the holding rope) tipped over in slow motion. The holding rope then dropped to the water and the barge on the far right side of the track holding the other end of the holding rope slowly tipped over too … also in slow motion. It was a sight that you had to see. Unfortunately Haas was disqualified and Tedesco got the win and a bye into the final. The rest of the boats on the line had to be brought back into shore and the window of time for the first round was history.
Prior to the holding rope incident, Jarrett Silvey in Hoot Gibson’s “Hot Licks” TFH won his first round with a really good run, but no time was recorded. Jarrett’s run was probably the best run of the weekend, but as we all know “stuff happens” anywhere and at anytime. Jarrett had another good run going in the second round against Glen Wilson, but the blower belt started shredding and he lost power before the finish line. The TFH championship will be a shootout at IHBA Finals at Firebird too. Don’t miss it this year. There should be lots of nitro boats there!
As we all know, any of us can be tested at anytime and anywhere during our life. So my sermon for Sunday at San Diego was titled “Testing and Training.” Linda and I were tested at our home for several weeks with a flooded house. We passed the test … but remember, “When you come to your wits end, God lives there.”