Hydro Racing

Grand Prix grandma makes history

On Thursday night, Leslie “Poodle” Warren became a grandmother for the second time.

She was supposed to be around for her grandson’s birth, but he arrived three weeks early.

He seems to have inherited his grandma’s penchant for speed.

Warren, a 46-year-old from Tacoma, was on the Columbia River on Friday afternoon for the Grand Prix West Dash for Cash. With her stint in the GP-43 ExtremePlay Racing, Warren became the first woman to race a GPW boat competitively in the United States.

After the Dash for Cash, Warren compared the moment to finally being tall enough to go on the big ride at the amusement park.

“This is when you get to go on the roller coaster, and it’s even better than you thought it was,” she said.

Warren has raced inboards for six seasons, starting with 2.5 stocks and progressing to 2.5 mods. Her experience gives her confidence while going up against longtimers such as Dash for Cash winner Jerry Hopp.

“I’m a hydroplane racer,” Warren said. “When I got the boat on plane out there, that’s how I felt.”

Warren didn’t finish the Dash for Cash, but team owner Rocky Hawkins said that was the plan.

“Nothing was wrong,” Hawkins said. “We just brought her in. That’s part of qualifying.”

Hawkins said he chose Warren for the GP-43 seat because of her maturity and racing skill, and she proved she could handle the job.

“You let (the team) know how the boat was responding, whether you have to make adjustments,” Warren said. “As a driver, you have more responsibility. You have to keep the motor healthy and watch your gauges.”

Several people came by in the pits to congratulate Warren on her historic run.

“You have to trust the people on your team, you have to respect the people on your team and you have to love the people on your team,” Warren said. “It’s a family affair.”

Her nickname even has a family connection: Warren became known as “Poodle” because her husband, Shawn, was nicknamed “Big Dog.”

Warren recalled what her friends said: “Every big dog needs a poodle.” She has been “Poodle” for 17 years.

This weekend, the Warrens not only can celebrate what “Poodle” has achieved, but also the new pup in their pack.

Dash for Cash: Despite some confusion about whether he jumped the count, Jerry Hopp eventually was declared the winner in the GP-15 Miss Silver Lake Dental Arts.

Hopp, son Greg (GP-12 Miss Slabjack) and Dustin Echols (GP-17 Shockwave Racing) exchanged the lead several times during the three-lap race before the elder Hopp prevailed.

All three boats will be back on the water for GPW qualifying at 8:15 a.m. today. Heat 1A is scheduled for 2:15 p.m., and Heat 2A is set for 4 p.m.

w Katie Dorsey: 582-1526; kdorsey@tricityherald.com