Team Blog [Archives]

Season opener in 10 days . . .
2014-04-20
Season opener in 10 days . . .

SUNDAY, April 20, 2014 - Our season opening race in Rouen, France is literally just 10 days away and the entry list is as full as I have ever seen it.  Two years ago the entry list for Classe 1 boats totalled nine boats, last year it was up to 11.  This year's entry list shows 15 boats on the slate for next week's 24-hour-long endurance race.

Why so many?  Classe 1 is the most challenging class of boats that race at Rouen.  The boats, which are similar to the SST-60 for Formula 3 class of boats in the U.S., are 14 feet in length and are powered by a 60 horsepower fuel injected engine.  The Siene River is not far from the ocean and sees a pretty significant tidal surge twice daily.  When the tide is coming in the ocean surge slams against the river current which runs toward the ocean, causing quite a fun wake to deal with.  When the tides are going out the river currents run with the tides making the downstream current super fast.  When you are driving a lightweight boat with limited horsepower this makes for some very, very challenging circumstances when attempting to jump waves that can reach a couple feet in height at times.  Figure in a big island that splits the river currents into two channels while attempting to navigate a single pin turn makes tip-toeing a corner while holding your breath each and every trip around the 2.5 mile course just one of stresses of this race.

The bigger Classe 2 and Classe 3, similar to F2 and F1 boats here in the U.S., are able to skip across the wakes with much more horsepower and a much longer and heavier boat.  The Classe 1 boats keep the drivers on their game every minute of 24 hours or bad things can happen.

It is great to see the largest Classe 1 entry list at Rouen that many drivers can ever recall.  Running 24 hours against 14 other competitors is something I am so much looking forward to.  And, I am the only non-French driver in Classe 1 this year.  There are many foreign drivers in Classe 2 and 3 in 2014, but all French pilots except myself in the little boats.

The clock is ticking down pretty quickly so most of this week's spare time will be spent making sure we are packed up and ready to go abroad.  Passport, capsule training record, APBA recommendation letters, UIM license, APBA license, international racing insurance, physical fitness test, and more needs to be rounded up this week, but the fun that lies ahead in just 240 short hours is more than worth it!

Dana Tomes 


New sponsor announced tomorrow . . .
2014-04-14
New sponsor announced tomorrow . . .

MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2014 - The final peg of our team's 2014 sponsorship puzzle will be placed tomorrow as we announce a new primary sponsor for the coming year. The central-Ohio company specializes in building, refurbishing and customizing big rigs. A story about the new sponsorship will be announced April 15, but if you're a regular viewer of our team website you may have noticed a little hint that was posted to the home page earlier today in preparation for our announcement. Stay tuned. We are happy to be able to announce the partnership publicly tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, the Huntington District Waterways Association will meet for it's quarterly gathering in Huntington. We'll be there to pitch the group's involvement in the 2014 Huntington Classic Regatta. The waterways group partnered with the Huntington race last summer by setting up a recruitment tent at the race event to allow it's member companies to interact with the racing community. Plans are to possibly expand the waterways presence to as many as four race sites along the Ohio River in 2014. Some direction on that plan will hopefully get more clear at tomorrow's meeting.

And speaking of the Huntington race, our organizing committee has decided on a new promoter to conduct the 2014 event. We are now waiting on the APBA higher-ups to approve the choice before we can move forward with an announcement and continued planning for our event. We had three promoters present proposals to our local committee and decided to go with a new promoter for our 2014 event. All three proposals had positive features, but our local group is working hard to grow our local event tremendously this year and felt like a change was needed to promote the new direction. We hope to be able to have the promoter issue resolved soon so we can begin promoting our planned racing activities, along with our many entertainment events. You can always get the latest plans for the Huntington Classic Regatta online at www.huntingtonclassic.com.

Dana Tomes


Host of U.S. Nationals folds . . .
2014-04-10
Host of U.S. Nationals folds . . .

THURSDAY, April 10, 2014 - The Kankakee River Regatta, the site of the OPC national championships for many years, announced this week that it will not conduct it's annual Labor Day Weekend event in 2014 due to lack of sponsorship.  After it was rumored just a few months ago that the group was awarded a three-year contract extension by the APBA to host the U.S. nationals, the committee says the 2014 event was projected to loose $10,000 if the plug had not been pulled.

First and foremost, the folks of Kankakee have my respect and admiration for being able to do what they have done for so many years.  Kankakee isn't a major city by any means and bringing in, coordinating, and paying more than 100 racers in more than a dozen race classes for as many years as they have been doing it is impressive in itself.  Don't worry about the "national" titles.  Other race sites will scoop up those titles over the next few months, but having it all at one site on one weekend was a nice way to do it.

The fact that it is apparently coming to an end isn't really surprizing.  Outboard boat racing has continued to loose popularity, fans, sponsors and participants in the U.S. for the past few decades.  The past 2-3 years I have noticed a significant drop in all of the above for various reasons.  Even larger cities are having trouble funding boat racing events that they have hosted for years.

Pittsburgh, host of the North American Championships, is cutting the Formula 3 class from it's program in 2014 for pure financial reasons, regardless of what some will say the real reason is.  It's no secret that the Three Rivers Regatta simply isn't generating the sponsorship it once did.  The same things are happening across the boat racing industry.  Marietta, OH had been a host of a national tour event for many years and in 2013 made the switch to less expensive club racing after it's budget had slipped a little more each year.  Huntington, WV is in the same boat.  We are lucky to be getting more sponsors locally than we have in past years, but the amount we are getting from each supporter is less in many cases than it was just a few years ago.  This is not just a Kankakee thing, it is a sports in general thing.  Local race tracks, NASCAR, professional sports.  All are suffering.

People have much more entertainment options now than they did two decades ago or even two years ago.  When I was a kid a boat race coming to town would have been a huge deal.  Now, a boat race weekend is just another weekend festival in most towns which have no shortage of things for people to do, not to mention video games, iPads and all of the other things that are pulling us away from old fashioned outdoor entertainment.  Huntington has had to tie it's boat races with another festival in town the past two years just to draw enough sponsors and fans to the event to make it worth while for everyone involved.

Our world is changing and unfortunately as boat racers and event promoters we haven't fiqured out yet how to change with it.  I include myself in this cloudy picture.  When I came to boat racing five years ago the sponsorship dollars needed to race boats wasn't an issue.  Each year I have seen the support slowly trickle away and dry up.  Why?  The reasons are many.   Hopefully we figure it out before more of our longtime race sites and race teams become things of the past.

Thanks for the many years of great racing Kankakee.  You guys put on a great event and I hope you are able to do it again someday.

Dana Tomes


News of note . . .
2014-04-07
News of note . . .

MONDAY, APRIL 07, 2014 - It's been a week since we posted an update so here's a few tidbits to catch you up to speed. Finally, it looks like the weather has switched from Winter to Spring. The grass is starting to green and we are beginning to pick up some spring in our step.

As you can see from the attached photo, we have two new pop up tents on order and also have two feather flags on order to spruce up our pit area a little this coming season. The tents and flags are from Extreme Powerboat Racing and will help carry our color scheme and image.

Repairs are continuing on our race hauler. The truck portion just came back from the shop where it got new rotors and brake pads. It will be going to the detail shop for some cleaning and detailing as soon as the rainy season is over. The trailer is going to the local RV dealer in a few weeks for some electrical upgrades and a roof AC replacement. An awning, which was torn last season compliments of a power pole jumping in front of me when I was attempting to back up, will also get some repair or replacement. 

Our F1 motors are getting leakdown tests to see if they are capable of being ran as-is or it they will need to be rebuilt prior to going to LaPorte in late May. Since this was overlooked and the decision to run F1 didn't happen until a few weeks ago I think we will have to run what we brung this year in F1 and send the powerheads to David McCormick next fall for some winter work. Procrastination is a bad thing and sometimes I have a pretty good dose of it.

Most of our sponsor deals are set for 2014. We have one more bigger one out and hope to hear back on a decision in a couple weeks. Otherwise, we are set with NanoFusion, ECO-FIRST, Risen Son Graphics, RacingGraphics.com, Herr's, E.A. Schaeffer Oil and FastAppz for the coming season.

More updates soon.

Dana Tomes


Rouen race just a month away . . .
2014-03-30
Rouen race just a month away . . .

SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 2014 Got word from France today that our Classe 1 boat for the Rouen and Poland races is back from the paint shop and being rigged this weekend.  Shark Team owner and pilot Romain Nedelec says the team will finish up the boat next weekend and spend Sunday afternoon getting the new powerhead broken in.  Hopes are to get the boat on the water for shakedown before we report to Rouen on April 28, just four weeks from tomorrow!

Back here in the U.S., racers will be in Port Neches, TX the same weekend as the Prop Tour opens it's F2 and Formula Lites season the first weekend of May.  The Prop Tour's Formula 1 boats will take to the water for the first time in 2014 a month later on Stone Lake in LaPorte, IN.  The early word is that the turnout for the second running of the Maple City Grand Prix is going to be impressive.  Rumors have the F1 field at 20-25 boats, including our Herd Racing #66 entry.

We started getting our F1 engines worked on this weekend.  Two of our 2.4 Mercury powerheads are undergoing some cleaning, oiling and leakdown tests this coming week to determine if they need to go to David McCormick at Nameoki Village Marine in Illinois for a rebuild or if they can be bolted on for a couple races before going back for freshening.  We have three more F1 powerheads on the shelf if needed so hopefully we can find two that don't need any work that we can start the season with in an effort to save some time and money.

Work continues this week in the race hauler.  We have a lot of little things to fix up, including the installation of a couple fold up canopy holders, fuel can holders, strap hangers, spray can racks, fire extinguisher mount, first aid kit and those sorts of things.  Just a lot of little things we didn't get around to last year that will make the trailer a lot more user friendly.

Got what we hope was our final two inches of snow overnight last night.  Looking forward to spring this week and getting the shop garage doors up and getting back to work on what we love to do!

Dana Tomes


Winter, winter, go away . . .
2014-03-26
Winter, winter, go away . . .

WEDNESDAY, March 26, 2014 - Another day, another inch of snow.  Usually by the time the calendar is ready to flip to the month of April in the hills of West Virginia we are seeing the surroundings begin to green and putting the jackets in the closet.  Not 2014.  As recent as yesterday we received two snow events, each dropping about an inch.

The long-lasting winter has been just about enough for me and like it or not we're moving full steam ahead on our 2014 racing plans, beginning this weekend, regardless of if the weather cooperates or not.

We are going to tear into a couple of our 2.4 liter Mercury powerheads to get them ready for some Formula 1 racing we hope to do later this summer.  I have always wanted to run a race or two with the F1 guys and girls and I think this year will be the year.  In 2014 we won't be racing any specific league or seeking any certain aspiration, just hitting a few races here, there and far away.  In addition to our two races in Europe planned for this year, we hope to run at least two or three regional club races, as well as add in a couple of the more popular tour stops in our region.  Our updated 2014 race schedule can be found here: http://www.herdracing.com/schedule.php.  Keep in mind the schedule could change, but as of today these are the events we are planning to participate in.  Yes, we are passing on a couple sites we have historicaly participated at, but are adding a few new sites we have never raced at before.  One race I hate to miss is the North American Championships in downtown Pittsburgh.  I have been in that race for the past four seasons, but the logistics of racing in the Steel City are tough and compressing the race events into one day for each class makes it even tougher.  Throw in that fact that the race takes place on July 4 every year regardless of where the date falls during the week, and it means giving up a holiday with the family that I just don't want to do any more.  My feelings may change between now and mid-summer, but that's the way I see our summer from the perspective of late March.

And, plans are still steaming ahead on planning for the Huntington Classic race events.  Our attempt to secure a race promoter for the races themselves has been stalled the past few weeks by a few unanticipated administrative and legal hurdles, but we hope to get those issues worked out soon and get a promoter under contract to conduct the 2014 race events.  As for the entertainment and complimenting festival, those loose ends are tied up and well ahead of schedule.  I am hoping for a great Huntington Classic in 2014!

Lastly, we hope to have some final drawings for our team tents and other marketing stuff real soon.  This year, as I have mentioned before, we hope to make our hauler and pit area a lot more functionable.  Last year we got our hauler on the road just before the race season started and didn't have time to set it up exactly the way we wanted.  This year, thanks to all of that snow, there are no excuses for not making time to make it right.

Dana Tomes


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