If all 13 unlimited hydroplanes qualify this weekend for the 49th running of the HAPO Columbia Cup, race officials have contingency plans so that the river won’t be so crowded.
“We’d add a C heat on Saturday afternoon,” said Mike Denslow of the Tri-Cities Water Follies board. “Then it just depends on the fallout. Some boats will have issues where they might not be able to run on Sunday and we wouldn’t have to add a C heat. Adding a C heat on Sunday would be difficult with the schedule, but we could do it if we had to.”
Denslow said he had talked to race director Jon Culver on Tuesday night about this very subject.
“Six is the maximum you can have on the front row,” said Denslow. “If all of them qualified, we would probably have a 5-4-4 setup for the first set of heats.”
That’s if all boats qualified.
There are some questions about that happening.
The 100 Leland team may not be ready to hit the 130 mph minimum.
Kelly Stocklin’s 18 Bucket List Racing boat hasn’t been in the water since 2012.
The 12 Miss DiJulio team has had its problems in recent races.
The 9 Les Schwab Tire — Team Red Dot team has been busy putting the boat back together after driver Jon Zimmerman flipped in it and crashed at the Detroit Gold Cup.
And Scott Raney’s team had motor problems in the 11 Peters & May boat in Detroit.
Still, all 13 boats are expected to hit the water for testing and qualifying Friday.
And compared to the eight boats that were in Detroit a few weeks ago, Lampson Pits will be sitting fat this weekend — especially when you add eight Grand Prix West boats, eight or nine 1-liter boats, and three vintage hydroplanes.
“I think 13 unlimiteds is cool,” Denslow said. “Now we’re dealing with the exact opposite of what Detroit was dealing with. But I know if all 13 boats did 130 in qualifying, I know they’d want to do a C heat.”
Putting the 9 back together
It’s taken crew chief Jeff Campbell and his team six days to put the 9 boat back together after the flip in Detroit.
But Campbell said the team will be ready.
“We’ll be there Thursday,” he said.
Campbell said 10 feet of the boat was missing on the left side.
“The big thing is there is no part that you can just fit back on,” he said. “You have to make everything. But we’ll have it painted by midnight tonight.”
Campbell has been through these fixes before.
“They’re all about the same,” he said. “The only problem here is when I worked with the Miss Budweiser team we had eight guys to put it back together. Here, it’s basically me and my brother.”
Campbell doesn’t believe the fix will affect the boat’s performance.
“The part that came off has been upgraded,” he said. “And we hurt our second motor in the flip. We still have our first and third motors.
“The big problem was travel time, getting the boat back here to Seattle from Detroit. We didn’t get it off the trailer until last Wednesday. So it’s taken us six days. It’s been a long week. We hope not to do it again.”
Boats on display
Race fans can see some of the boats on display from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at the Columbia Center Mall in Kennewick.
Boats expected to be on display include the 1 Graham Trucking with driver J. Michael Kelly; the 17 Our Gang Racing with driver Jeff Bernard; and the 12 Miss DiJulio.
Other drivers expected to participate include 11 Peters & May driver Tom Thompson, 18 Bucket List Racing driver Kelly Stocklin, 21 Lakeridge Paving driver Brian Perkins, 96 Spirit of Qatar driver Kip Brown, and 100 Leland Unlimited driver David Warren.
In addition, the 17 boat will be at the Kennewick Albertson’s from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day, as the team takes donations and fans can sign the boat.