The final day of the 2016 US Title Series was completed under a brilliant sun, a great crowd and stupendous heats of racing. I must say, it was a heck of day with what occurred on the water.
First up, K-Pro, for the second year in a row, the National Champ completed the double as Brianna Payn went out and scored the 2 heat wins contested on Sunday over the field, including Mackenzie Hellsten who was the winner last year of both as well. It was not easy as Mac worked hard to get the needed points, but fell a bit short, but not without a great effort. Rex Bayer, celebrating his 15th birthday, let those two young ladies that he was there and was contesting for the wins as well.
What a great group of youngsters coming up through the class with the three afore mentioned and add to that Brady Brinkman, Ethan Fox, Lyndsay McGrath, and Maxine Pulsipher and you can see we have a great deal to look forward to.
700R came up next for their two heats and wha hoo, what this brought was unbelievable close racing and a whole host of Holy Buckets in both heats. Andrew Thirlby and Daniel Hooten absolutely thrilled a great crowd the judges stand, and every crew as they battled side by side for 8 laps and that is not an exaggeration. The crowd, crews, and judges stand broke into applause as the two young lions returned to the pit area after each heat. When finishto ed, they slowed on the course, gave each other the high sign and had to have been absolute great fun for them as it was exciting for us. Great job guys. Joe Franck was no slouch either as he finished strong in both heats as well.
125R was a war of attrition as in the first heat, 4 of the contestant’s broke down to give the win to Tim Small, our National Champ in 2016 easily. In the next heat Tim went out and scored another victory while Brad Dygert coming through the bottom corner, skied, came down flat, boat hooks left, Brad exited stage right and into the drink. He was ok and came back for the 3rd heat, while Brianna Payn took the heat win with Lyndsay McGrath driving a steady race finished on the podium as well. This is both Brianna and Lyndsay’s first year in the 125 and they are doing very well.
250H were unbelievably fast an Chris Hellsten was the fastest of them all in the first two heats. Chris put his stamp on those two heats with convincing wins, but not without Kurtis Nydahl, banging on the door in those heats. Eric Schmidt was lurking as well and as they came out for the 3rd heat, he loaded up right in front of the judges stand, but that young man knew what to do to get on the hunt and was able to take the 3rd heat, as Chris hung back a bit at the start as he well should have. Amy Nydahl was able to finish out the class with good finishes and took home the Hi Point Championship as well as a place on the podium
Next up was the 175H as Shannon McGrath giving the field a look at here rooster tail as well as Ray Hammond doing the same in a couple of heats, while Jon Wienandt was working through getting his new Hemp boat on the right track and was stronger with each heat. It was great to see Jon back on the water and at full strength after two tumbles, two weeks in a row at Constantine and Depue.
350R was all about Brian Payn letting the other drivers in this class know that the National Championship might have escaped this year, but he drove possessed this day and started at the back of the pack in a couple of heats, but worked his way around the field to take home the 3 heats for a great 1200 point finish. Tim Small and Paul Bosnich worked hard to reach the podium, but Brian certainly had the field covered today with great speed and driving, he was not going to be denied.
In 1100H, it has been Amy Nydahl’s playground all year and today was no exception as she ripped off the heat wins to finish out front of David Hooten and Jake Hoffert the podium finisher’s for the day. Jake has been on the podium a couple of times this year and is showing great progress, Dan Kirts, Ike Yoder and Mark Gryskiewicz all had their share of gremlins and are looking forward to 2017.
Our 2016 USTS meeting and awards banquet will take place in Chicago on November 5th with a 9am start for the meeting and banquet that evening. If you have agenda items, please get them to our President Todd Brinkman, soon.
Again, my thanks to drivers, crews, our USTS staff for a great year. Good Lord willing, we’ll see you at the races next spring, Holly Buckets, another year down.