TUESDAY, April 7, 2015 - For the first time in a few years it doesn't appear that any pilots from North America will be participating in the 24 Hours of Rouen on the River Siene in France next month. The past two seasons I was fortunate enough to be invited by France's Shark Racing Team to drive their Classe 1 boat. With sponsorship lacking, the Shark gang has decided to pass on Rouen this year and concentrate on the French national championship instead.
The Rouen entry list shows just 29 boats thus far, although a few more may be added before the event kicks off on May 1. Last year the boat count was in the mid 30s, each team fielding 3-4 pilots who compete for 24 hours on a two-plus mile course in downtown Rouen in France's Normandy region. I hope to be able to get back to Rouen one day, but this year my schedule and sponsorship situation didn't cooperate. Maybe 2016 will see us get back over there and try to up our 7th and 8th place runs the past two years. One lick of bad luck in 24 hours and you're done. We had a steering pulley break last year during our first two hour run and played catch up the next two days. Nothing but a perfect run earns the podium and someday getting that honor like a few American pilots in the past have been able to do is always motivating.
Preparations for our first Formula 1 race here in the U.S. is full steam ahead. We are working in the toterhome and living quarters trailer getting things set up. Working on mounts to carry our powerheads in the toterhome, secure fuel drums for transport, and that sort of thing. Our uniforms, flags, tents that the public image stuff for our new sponsor is in the final art stages and if the weather continues to improve we hope to get our boats to the ramp in the next couple weeks to get the bugs worked out and get the engines broke in and tuned in preparation for the Maple City Grand Prix in late May. Right now heavy rains has our local rivers full of drift, trash and mud so I think we are still maybe 2-3 weeks away from getting to the water, and probably a few more weeks after that before we get any testing in.
And, it appears that after a highly successful maiden regatta in February in Bradenton, FL, that the cities involved aren't seeing eye to eye about next year's event. Media attention this week in Florida has been focused on how a city on one side of the river believes the one on the other got more from the regatta and it is looking for a little more return on investment in 2016. Here's a link to a story in the local papers there if you want to follow the progress of plans for next year. Click here to read: http://www.bradenton.com/2015/04/07/5732526_bradenton-regatta-palmetto.html?rh=1. Let's hope both sides are able to work out the issues, because I heard nothing but good things about the event and I think the F2 teams who participated loved this year's event.