Highlighting USTS drivers and families---Amy Nydahl
Today, 05:30 PM
This fall/winter I have decided to take on a project to keep me from going nuts with being quarantined since March. That project is to highlight any number of our drivers and family support mechanisms that make up a great racing organization called the US Title Series a venerable organization well into 30 plus years of Pro Racing. Any family/driver/crew that would like to participate you can reach me through FB and let me know and we will be off to the races.
The drivers and families that I will highlight will begin with the family of the Title Series President Pete Nydahl and in particular Amy Gesler(Nydahl) We will follow up with more on Kurt, Pete, and cannot forget the glue that it holds it all together in Kelly Nydahl.
I am going to take a little license here at the start and kind of reach back into the memory bank from years gone by. The Nydahl racing family have been at this for a very long time as Ray Nydahl was one of the toughest of the tough, driving the big C,D,F classes back in the golden age of outboard racing. Ray was a top mechanic and built hardware used in our great sport. He and his angel Dolly were at the races and were a force. I believe Ray was also one of the leaders in bringing Evinrude to the forefront of OPC racing when building their engines. Ray was a rough tough character and his stare could make you wilt where you stood, but I loved the guy. My favorite thing when Ray was still alive and coming to DePue to support his Son Pete, he sat up on the hill in one of the little shelters and when I had to use the little block facility after announcing at break time, I would have to walk by him and he would always yell, hey Rodda, what the hell are you doing, then a big grin would come and he would give me a compliment on the announcing, believe me that made my day.
Their Son Pete followed into the sport and was equally a champ and front runner in any race he was in. Pete had one of those memorable oh poop moments at Depue several years ago in I believe 700H. He came up for the start and was headed to the first turn and right in front of the announcing booth, the whole transom blew out of the boat and it was butt end over tea kettle, but fortunately he was ok. Another story on Pete and Kelly Amy, their daughter Amy was just a tyke and we were at Kingston, Tn. over the 4th of July weekend. I had to be in Mobile, Al the next day for my day job with Marvin Windows, so I hung around to see the fireworks over Watts Barr Lake, and ran into Pete and Kelly who were camping near the pit area and getting ready for a shore dinner. They were kind enough to invite me to dinner with them and I’ve never forgot their kindness.
Having gone back in time to Grandpa Ray, Dad Pete, now comes a young woman who has taken the Pro category by storm, she being Amy Gesler is one of the top drivers of Pro Equipment anywhere in the country. If you can beat her and her team, you have a great takeaway as this young woman is one of the most accomplished drivers that we have currently and would be ranked in the top echelon of retired drivers. I have been announcing USTS races for 36 years and I could not tell you how many national titles she has taken home, BTW, neither could she when I asked her how many. That number of course is dwarfed by the number of heat wins that she was showing her rooster tail to the field. Often chased or exchanging wins with her brother Kurt, who is a champion in his own right. More on Kurt in the next article.
The very first time I remember having an opportunity to announce Amy was when her Dad Pete was running F-1 and had driven the big rig to Lakeland, Fl for the Orange Cup Regatta that I was announcing. Amy had started in the Stock J Hydro category in 2003 and it was on from there. Amy said she had not been aware of the J Hydro class, but one day Pete showed up at the house with a J Hydro in the back of the pickup. Amy was excited as she asked Pop if that was her boat and now the opportunity came and once she started she’s never looked back. As she said, what keeps her driving, “the thrill of being out on the water, the adrenaline pumping that you can only get when you’re in a race boat, and the drive to be number one. That she has done and continues to do on a regular basis.
As she said, she has raced many different classes in both the stock division and now in the pro division. She has driven in the following classes. JH/JR, AXSH/AXSR, ASH, KPRO, OSY-400, CSH, 20SSH, 125 Hydro, 125 R, 250 Hydro, 350 Hydro, 1100 Hydro, 700 Hydro, I’m tired just writing all those. She said that her Dad would be looking for new equipment as she aged into a classes minimum age bracket. As she moved up from class to class, of course the speeds increased as well for her. She said, “As soon as I got a taste of more speed, it was adios to the slower classes. She currently is racing in the 250 and 350 hydro classes because of their high speeds. Both classes are now over 100MPH classes and they are thrilling to watch. She loves the high speed, and says, “the boat is very comfortable to handle and the competition is high in both classes. 250 Hydro is my current favorite class because of how many fast and competitive rigs are out there right now. It's really anyone's race. I love close, fast racing that pushes me to be the best driver.”
She has also been someone that other owners have wanted to put in their equipment and Mike Thirlby of Thirlby Automotive did just that for several years. Hustling that big Green and Black Pugh Hydro for Mike’s team turned into numerous championships in the super-fast 700 and 1100 Hydro category. Mike certainly knew who to go to when he needed that Hydro to sing. However, I think Amy is where I would be, don’t like anything over my head, the canopy and being strapped into a rocket ship. She loves the open cockpit boats and can move a hydro around as a part of her.
I asked her to tell me about places she has raced that were memorable to her both her in the states as well as overseas racecourses she been to. She said that her favorite International course was in Barcis, Italy. This is in the far NE corner of Italy, just south of Austria. She said, “I've never been to a more beautiful place!” I do not think it will surprise anyone as to her favorite US Race Course - DePue, IL. I asked her why and she said, “Because it's DePue! It's like greeting an old friend every time we're there. Just something about that place.” Add in the number of National Titles, the wonderful and knowledgeable fans, the great atmosphere at DePue and you get the idea.
Amy was raised in South East Wisconsin and now lives just outside of Minneapolis with her family. As you would know, she has other interests of course, one being that little girl Addi that keeps her busy at home as well as her boat racer boat builder, racing hardware manufacturer, Hubby Derek Gesler who is a National Champ in his own right. Amy and Addi are the bookkeepers to the growing business of the Gesler family.
Amy graduated from Georgia Southern with a degree in Logistics and Amy has been able to work from home which is due to the Covid Pandemic. Amy is an accomplished Equestrian as well as a Momma, a boat racer, wife, and chief of all. She rides her own horse on their property and hopes to bring Addi into the love of horsemanship as grows older.
Add your congratulations to a job well done by this young woman, accomplished at many things, but more important to me, one of the nicest ambassador’s in boat racing and one who will help anyone who needs it.