KENNEWICK -- Here are the heat draws for today's first three Lamb Weston Columbia Cup unlimited hydroplane races:
In Heat 2A, set for 1:50 p.m., it'll be a rematch between the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto and the U-17 Miss Red Dot. Also involved will be the U-9 Miss VisitTRICITIES.com, the U-11 Stevenson Roofing presents Peters & May, and the U-21 Albert Lee Appliance.
In Heat 2B, set for 2:10 p.m., the teammates are at it again.
The U-5 Graham Trucking and the U-7 Valken.com -- boats owned by Ted Porter -- are together. Also, the U-25 97 Rock, the U-99 Miss HAPO Community Credit Union, and the U-100 Beacon Plumbing will compete.
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In Heat 2C, set for 2:30 p.m., Dave Villwock and the U-96 Spirit of Qatar will battle the U-22 Great Scott! Presents Campaign WSU, the U-57 Formulaboats.com and 88 Degree Men.
* Mike Jones admits he can't get racing out of his blood.
"We keep messing with boats," Jones said.
Jones and his wife Lori have tried to sell the U-9 unlimited, which is racing this weekend as the Miss VisitTRI-CITIES.com.
"If somebody were to come along and make the right offer, we'd sell it," Mike said.
Meanwhile, the Joneses are racing the boat in the Tri-Cities and Seattle, and then they'll decided about San Diego.
But this isn't the boat's first race this season.
The U-9 was leased a few weeks ago to the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto for the Detroit Gold Cup.
The truck hauling the boat broke down in Spokane on the way to Detroit.
After a serious delay, the team got to Detroit.
Jon Zimmerman was hired to drive for Steve David, who was injured in an accident in Madison, Ind., during the Indiana Governor's Cup.
"We finally get the boat into the water with just five minutes left in qualifying," Mike Jones said. "Jon got into it for the first time and ran almost 150 mph in that first lap."
Jones is willing to do even more this year.
"They keep talking about needing boats for exhibition races in China," he said. "Let us know, we'll help."
* Art Oberto, the patriarch of the family that owns the Seattle company which produces some of the finest dried meats and jerkeys in all the land, was in the U-1 camp Saturday.
It's his first time in the Tri-Cities in about four years, but he's pretty happy with his company's relationship with the Miss Madison team.
"You know we started sponsoring boats in 1974," Oberto said.
But he never expected to sponsor a boat that has won the national high points championship not once, but three times in a row.
"Are you kidding? Some of the boats we had, I was surprised they could make it around the pits."
* Jeff Bernard likes having a teammate to race with in Scott Liddycoat.
Bernard drives the U-5 Graham Trucking, while Liddycoat pilots the U-7 Valken.com. Both boats are owned by Ted Porter.
"It's nice on the course, but sometimes it's not always nice off it," Bernard said. "One boat team wants something the other boat has at times. The drivers get along well. And I admit it has paid off. I won at Madison in 2008 because I had a teammate (blocking for me)."
* 88 Degree Men driver J. Michael Kelly married long-time girlfriend Angela Heckard last weekend and is spending his honeymoon here in the Tri-Cities.
"I figured it's about time I get married," Kelly said. "I found a keeper. I figure we'll spend time racing here in the Tri-Cities and Seattle next week, then we'll go to Cabo for a regular honeymoon."
Meanwhile, Kelly is ecstatic in working with Jim Harvey again. Harvey is the Degree crew chief and was the boat owner who hired him in 2004, giving him his first unlimited ride.
"It's great," Kelly said. "Jim's the whole reason I'm racing unlimiteds."
And it helps that Kelly, 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, gets to drive a brand new boat.
"It's pretty cool that I get to drive a boat that was fitted for me," he said. "I think we're at 80 percent (of the boat's ability) right now. This boat has got a lot of potential. It's a matter of fine tuning."
* Once upon a time, Dave Warren did rescue diving for unlimited hydroplane races.
But a chance encounter at Sammamish got him hooked on a different side of the racing experience.
"It was like 9 or 10 at night, and a group was working on their boat," said Warren, who is in construction. "I said, 'Do you need help?' They said, 'Oh, yeah, sure.' I got in there and was like, 'I like this.' "
It didn't end there. Warren eventually became a member of Kamiakin High School graduate Vince Xaudaro's UL-929 team -- Warren's knowledge of composites was an asset, he said -- and worked his way up to crew chief. He also bought his own boat, which he drove for five years. Now, the Lake Stevens resident competes in the Grand Prix West series in the GP-329 Lucas Oil.
"Most people don't go from pulling unconscious people out of boats to saying, 'Hey, I can do this,' " Warren said.