Hydro Racing

Web Lizards 2008

We're the Web Lizards. We've been blogging the Columbia Cup since 1997, long before anyone thought up silly words like "blog" - or turned it into a verb. Want to know what's happening in and around Lampson Pits? Check here. We'll report the rumors - and like any good blogger, we'll make some up if we can't find any. E-mail us in the pits at hydroracing@gmail.com


10:57 a.m. Sunday, July 27, 2008

Heat 2A is about to start. Let's race!


9:42 a.m. Sunday, July 27, 2008

Typically speaking, you won't find minds more depraved than those in a newspaper office.

Yet today's sports section cover photo never struck anyone as out of the ordinary, perhaps even bordering on pornographic.

Not until someone came up to the Web Lizard trailer to buy some copies and say the sports cover photo was the talk of the pits. Now, we can't stop giggling, including the photographer who shot it - and didn't notice anything amiss until it was pointed out to him.

What's the issue? Let's just say Dave Villwock should be a happy guy. That's as far as we'll go.


9:22 a.m. Sunday, July 27, 2008

In years past, there would have been a string of cars queued up by 8 a.m. on Columbia Cup Sunday to get into the park. This morning, there was no lineup of cars even though there were thunderboats — the U-7 Formulaboats.com on the course running laps. Heck, the winds have kicked up - increasing the odds of fans witnessing a blowover.

As it turns out, the park opened at 7 a.m., so everyone who wanted in early already was on the shoreline. Also worth noting is that KONA 610 AM, the flagship station for the Columbia Cup, stuck with its regular programming The Radio Show." This morning's program was the BBC radio comedy called, "I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again." The April 30, 1967, program featured a young John Cleese of Monty Python fame. We didn't stick around to hear "The Curse of the Flying Wombat." And so far, there's been no sign of "The Curse of the Flying Hydroplane."


9:06 a.m. Sunday, July 27, 2008

We Web Lizard types are pretty mellow. We try not to let much get to us. We're in the pits, where tensions can run high, and we don't want to add to the stress. We're just here to have fun.

But here's how to piss off a Lizard: Come up to our little tin box and complain that your paper wasn't delivered this morning. Here's how it went a few minutes ago:

"Hey, I didn't get my paper this morning! All I got were the ads! I called in and left a message at the paper! I suppose maybe they'll deliver it later!"

"We actually just run the Web site. We don't deliver the newspaper. That's handled by an entirely different department."

"I didn't get my paper! All I got were the ads!"

"Yeah, I understand that. We run the Web site."

"But I didn't get my paper!"

"If I give you my copy, will you go away?"



6:59 a.m. Sunday, July 27, 2008

Good morning, fellow hydro fans. It's a stunningly gorgeous morning here on the Columbia River. The chief Lizard is enjoying his breakfast burrito, then will get to work.

A huge line of fans is backed well up onto the highway at the entrance to the park, and you can feel the excitement in the air. This should be a great day of racing.


4:18 p.m. Saturday, July 26, 2008

The weirdest thing: It's cloudy. It's been a long time since any of these drivers have been in the Tri-Cities and enjoyed anything but sunny skies.

Maybe it's chem trails?


4:08 p.m. Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Web Lizards received a tempting offer from the scantily clad members of the Patron Social Club to be their guests at tonight's Grizzly Bar Boat Race Party in Pasco.

Cost is $20 for non-Lizards. There will be 14 bars running at this outside party featuring a guestimated "1,000 beautiful people."

Call 509-547-0701 for information.

Remember, everything in moderation. The Water Follies folks want to see you in the park on Sunday, but if you have too much fun with the social club members or too much Patron, the Web Lizards will be here for you.


3:38 p.m. Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tri-City Americans fans probably had a bad flashback during Heat 1B. Jeff Pohjola, widely considered the worst play-by-play man in the history of the Tri-City hockey team, works for KONA during the hydroplane races.

During Heat 1B today, everything was going swimmingly until Pohjola supposedly heard that winner Jimmy King in the U-3 Hoss Mortage Investors Too received a two-lap penalty for clipping a buoy. That sent the professionals on the air scrambling. They did a quick count of the buoys on the course. None missing. They checked with officials. Nothing. They asked Jimmy King. Nope.

Apparently, there was nothing to the phantom penalty.

By the end of Pohjola's lone season as the Americans' play-by-play man, the team could not find even one radio station to carry the games. Not even in Othello.

The veterans at KONA now know why.


1:31 p.m. Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday's heat got someone unbearable in this little tin box by the river that we fondly call home.

Today, we are trying something different, and it's working well. We set a tray of ice behind the box fan, and the temperatures feel like they've dropped at least 10 degrees. Functionally, I guess this is a swamp cooler. The bag of ice was $2 - and well worth it.

We'll see how it does in a couple of hours when the temperatures peak.


12:53 p.m. Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lunch is over. Time to get back to work.

We have posted hundreds of photos so far this weekend. Check out our galleries of each hydroplane. We wanted to get up and personal with each boat, so our own BethZilla spent time in the pits the last two days. Each gallery has about a dozen photos of various details. Check them out.

We hope you also saw the photo sequence of the U-17 getting airborne. Herald photo editor Bob Brawdy caught that from the start/finish line.


8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 26, 2008

We have a report from the Pasco side of the river that the U-17 very nearly flipped on a testing run, getting airborne for more than 100 feet. We will see if we can get a photo of that.

Yeah, winds might be a factor today.


8:13 a.m. Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Lizards rolled into the pits about an hour ago. Between opening the trailer, setting up the computers and eating a delicious breakfast burrito from The Country Gentleman, we're just now getting around to posting.

Villwock was the first on the river when the course opened 15 minutes ago. He ripped a lap of 162 mph. One of the Formulaboats is on the course now.

In the middle of the night, we had some strong, gusting winds, probably in the 30 mph area. It was calm this morning but now is picking up a bit. We'll hope this doesn't turn into another Detroit.


6:09 p.m. Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday of the Columbia Cup is kind of like the silly season on the PGA. The drivers do a lot of jockeying for position, but it doesn't mean a whole lot. In the end, you try to win some money that doesn't count in the standings.

We had some fun today. We posted a ton of photos, and the traffic for them was strong. We have a bunch more we're still getting ready to post, including detail shots of every unlimited in the pits. Each boat will have its own gallery.

We missed Jody Moore, who has written for us every year since '97. Looks like he might - or might not - make it to town Saturday. Jeff Morrow, the Herald's sports editor, stepped into the fray and has posted about a dozen stories already. Just call him Jeff Moore.

We'll wrap up here in the next hour, but we'll be back bright and early in the morning.


2:02 p.m. Friday, July 25, 2008

Things slowed down a bit, though the lights are on the river for testing and qualifying. Jeff Morrow has posted a story about how the high price of this sport is making it tough on owners.

We've also posted a funny video of a radio guy getting doused by one of the lights as it pulled away from the docks.

The guy in the RV with the little scooter has put his shirt back on, much to our relief. He's now trying to drive the scooter while holding an umbrella.

Eric Degerman posted a story on this morning's qualifying runs. He also brought a little grill and made us lunch. Nice! Wondering if my wife would notice if I brought down the espresso machine tomorrow ...


12:27 p.m. Friday, July 25, 2008

We're posting video now. You'll see a link for "Video gallery" on the left side of the site here.

In past years, we've posted everything in QuickTime, which has caused some site users to struggle to see them. This year, everything is in Flash, which is installed on 98% of computers.

We'll be posting video and photos throughout the weekend, so stick around or check in regularly for updates.


12:06 p.m. Friday, July 25, 2008

Steve from Pikeville, Ky., has written in to thank us for the coverage of this weekend's hydroplane races.

"I attended my first Regatta in Madison in '89, then again in '98. I think next year I am going to take a week of vacation and go to Madison then travel on to Detroit for the Gold Cup."

Steve says he got hooked on the big boats when ESPN carried the races. His favorite boat currently is the U-3. Steve, it was 19 years ago this weekend that the U-3 Cooper's Express outlasted the field and won the Columbia Cup. Check out the "History" section on the left for every "game day" race story we've written since 1966.

Thanks for checking in, Steve. If you use RSS, you should notice RSS feeds on every section on the site.


11:06 a.m. Friday, July 25, 2008

We have our first email of the morning, this from Dan in Kennewick. He doesn't have a radio handy and wants to know about morning qualifying. So far, Steve David in the Oh Boy! Oberto has the fastest qualifying time at 160.625 mph. Jean Theoret was close behind at 159.145 mph. David Bryant got in a qualifying speed of 155.137 mph. Brian Perkins also qualified at 147.545 mph.

Thanks for the email, Dan.


8:57 a.m. Friday, July 25, 2008

Funniest thing we've seen so far: Old guy in the RV across from us standing on his little scotter thingy's handlebars to clean his windshield. Thought he'd end up in a wheelchair for certain.


8:53 a.m. Friday, July 25, 2008

Hydros have been on the river for the past 15 minutes or so. No idea which ones from my (disad)vantage point in the pits, but they're big, fast and quiet, so Cooper's must still be in the pits.


8:21 a.m. Friday, July 25, 2008

Just fired up iTunes for the first playing of AC/DC's Thunderstruck, the Web Lizards' theme song for the past few years.

Actually, it's just the first playing for this morning. We brought the thunder Thursday while setting up, and we played it in the office a few times earlier this week, just to get us in the mood.


8:01 a.m. Friday, July 25, 2008

The Lizards arrived in the Lampson Pits about 45 minutes ago. We got our trailer set up - gotta love zip ties - and the area is buzzing with action and anticipation. Between the lights and the big boys, we can hear a lot of turbines and pistons firing up. The course should open for testing at any moment.

Consumer tip: I just had the biscuits 'n' gravy from Country Gentlemen. Dang, it's good! I can feel my cholesterol rising already.

It should be a warm day, though not blistering (by Tri-City standards). As the high is supposed to be in the mid-90s.


11:28 p.m. Thursday, July 24, 2008

We're just hours away from the start of the 2008 Columbia Cup. It must feel like Christmas in July to West Coast hydro fans.

We plan to be in the pits by 7:30 a.m. or so. Boats hit the Columbia River for testing by 8 a.m., so we'll be ready for them.

Jody Moore, the dean of hydroplane writers, is currently stuck in Portland conducting some training for his day job. We don't expect him in Lampson Pits until Saturday. We'll survive, as we'll have award-winning hydro writer (and Herald sports editor) Jeff Morrow stepping up to provide the flavor and action from the pits. Eric Degerman, who escaped the sports department (but not the hydroplane races) for interactive media a few years ago, also will put fingers to keyboard as we provide you with the most complete coverage of any hydroplane stop on the circuit.

By the way, this is our 12th year of providing live online coverage of the Columbia Cup. We started this site in July 1996, so we've been at this longer than anyone.

One note about the site: We had to convert everything to a new online publishing system several weeks back, so everything might feel a little different this year. Don't worry, though; the changes will allow us to bring the action to you faster and better than ever.