Last season “Last Minute Again”, a 350 Hydroplane owned by Ogdensburg’s Bill Vielhauer, was one of the toasts of the great racing showcase at the Valleyfield PDQ Regatta.
Brandon Kennedy drove the explosive Blue and White Bill’s Tire Center craft to the first place in the finals of in the always strong and always deep 350 Hydro Class.
Over the weekend Vielhauer’s boat was a 2014 show-stopper despite the fact that it did not race in the finals.
In a Saturday qualifying heat, with Vielhauer’s brother Tom behind the wheel, the boat went airborne at 120 mph and did a vertical 360 before crashing back to the water.
The startling big air venture by the boat became a UTube Instant Classic and now appears all over the internet including Bill Vielhauer’s facebook page.
All things considered a best-case scenario developed as Tom Vielhauer was not injured, and although damaged, Bill Vielhauer said that they could have done some makeshift repairs to the boat and continued to race.
“If we made the finals we would have to race from the outside so we decided not to,” said Bill Vielhauer.
“I am going to have Bob Sovie do the repairs on the body but we should be able to get it ready for the next regatta.”
The breath-taking crash ended what started as a very promising weekend.
The Vielhauer team saw their boat record the fourth fastest time of the weekend in placing second in a qualifying heat on Friday in the first three days of exciting racing at Valleyfield which is rated as the Indy 500 and Dayton 500 of hydroplane racing.
“The motor ran great but we had trouble with the wing which holds the boat’s front end down on the straightaways,” said Bill Vielhauer.
“We couldn’t get in working right but we decided to race and Tom said he would take it easy. But the boat just took off like a kite and all Tom could do was to sit back and hold on. It seems like it happens to one boat every year at Valleyfield and I guess it was our year.”
The “Steeler” 777 Grand Prix boat, with Brockville Ont’s Bert Henderson at the wheel, and Ogdensburg’s Jeff Richards at crew chief continued an outstanding year by winning the Grand Prix final. Shameless, driven by Brandon Kennedy, took second and GP Valleyfield took third plotted by Marc Theoret.
Ogdensburg native Derec Smith fell short in a consistent bid for the 350 Hydro finals driving “Bad Influence”. Smith placed second in one qualifying heat and fourth in three others. Norm Ensbury drove OCR GAS BAR to victory in the finals.
Rob Stevenson drove Wet Spot to 2.5 Litre honors and Karson King drove took the checkered flag in 1.5 Litres.