Salmon Whitewater Jetboat Race 2004

Salmon 2004
Idaho Cup Championship- leg 2 of the US Championship
$10,000 purse
Riggins Idaho, April 17th & 18th, 2004

Sponsored by Peterson Stampede Dodge - Chrysler - Jeep
Commercial Tires - Allan Marsh RV & Marine Center
Boise Ranch Golf Course

Got Whitewater?

The Salmon remains the premier whitewater jetboat race of them all. In the run from the launch ramp at Hammer Creek to the start line at Whitebird creek, there is more whitewater than in this year's entire World Championships. If you race whitewater jetboats, than the Salmon is the single river to test your boat and your skills against. This year the Salmon was running larger than the last two years we were there. Rough went to Bumpy as Heck, big stuff was upgraded to fairly huge stuff.

Fun, enjoyable? Well yeah, mostly. The folks there are nice as hell, the town (Riggins) IS a lot of fun. The area is spectacular in it's beauty. And good food! But the river, well it's more like: challenging, even the old cliche, character building! It's one of those things that you cannot be absolutely sure you are up to, but you try your best anyway and most of the time you discover that you are indeed up to it. Satisfaction is probably the very best thing we take away from racing the Salmon, that is, the times we've done it right.

Pre-race troubles

Prior to the race, the turnout was looking very grim. The boat count had gone from someones total blue sky prediction of fifteen to four in about three weeks. The folks who put this race on probably worked harder on getting this year together than any other and it looked like it was going to be a total bomb.

Seven boats did show up to race. Four were Idahoans (is that the way to say that???) and three were from Northern California and Central Oregon. It's a real shame there wasn't more. It really is.

A-class 368 to 470 cubes, ANY mods, naturally aspirated.

Will Chandler #211 Danger Zone, broke something upstairs testing on friday afternoon.  Danger Zone was at the tech-in, but they were looking for head gaskets. Turns out, part of a valve head broke off. The one bit of luck they got was that the valve pieces departed the motor and only smashed a plug on the way out. I was told that nothing else was touched. Lucky.They spent Friday night after the tech pulling a head and replacing the valve. The sound of many crossed fingers here...

#277 Unpredictable was ready, everything was good with them. Dan was smiling and that's always a good sign. Paul and Rob were ready to go. They are pretty much always ready to go. Judy stayed home this race and we missed her and Cody.

#215 Rapid Transit (the Evil Clown Boat!) from Boise area (hope I got that right) driven by Brian DiLinge and Navigated by Adam Geis. Brian had raced in the 96 Worlds, Adam used to ride with his father Harvey sometimes when Harvey raced back in the mid eighties. I think this boat is a Riddle hull and I know it originally belonged to Joe Scott. It was called Stars and Stripes in it's maiden configuration. That means it probably has been racing on and off since the late eighties- I think that Steve Soderberg owned it after Joe and it's name then was "Rapid Fire" # 380. Steve got a lot out of it then sold it to someone who made a pleasure boat out of it. Along comes Mark Conklin and George Diorius who then put the now seasoned warrior back to racing. When they got it, it was yellow and had a very evil looking clown painted on the deck. Mark and George called it "Rapid Transit", maybe as a nod to "Rapid Fire" and raced it first in FX class then in B-class. Brian bought the boat from Mark, re-motored it, kept the name "Rapid Transit" numbered it 215 and brought it back to the Salmon for one more run at the big water.

B-class 312 (I think) to 367 cubes, any mods also, naturally aspirated.

#244 Liqui-Fire - Oops! Renumbered B-244 and racing in B-class was the Dwain Longfellow clan, from all the hell over central Idaho! Spiffy new Buick/Pontiac/Chevy Uh, small block something GM anyway. All aluminum except some of the spinning parts. Lots and lots of cool little details on this boat.

#180 Rump Shaker, one of the best boat names I have ever heard! The redoubtable Chuck Thompson and Jim Madden from Grangeville, Idaho. Fuel injected and a temporary paint job consisting of cherry red top and shiny aluminum bottom. I kind of like that temporary paint job just as it is, myself. Real nice seats, fluffy sort of, looked like recliners kind of. Nice seats. This boat smelled like a new car, I ain't kidding, it did! Jim said they would be taking care of that right away!

#163 Pass-O-Fire, Duane and Gary Labrum, also running in B-class with a smaller motor due to a leaky piston in the big motor from Roseburg. It was leaking oil across the intake manifold into a cylinder on the opposite side. These guys ran the fishing boat last year, and I watched Duane rocket down through Blackhawk with it. He can drive! I watched Gary do a few hi-gee turns testing his motor down at the launch ramp, he handles the boat well, I think he can drive pretty good too.

FX class- Small block Chevy ZZ-4 crate motor or equivalent - 350 cubes, very limited modifications

#16 (x) Raven.  Well, gosh, just me and Lynn running our Kwik Kraft. It's a big monster, 22 feet, about as tough as they get and heavy. Perfect for the Salmon! Guess you could say we were in a class by ourselves. Or, how could you lose... Well, by sinking the boat I guess you could call that a loss! Ok, our goals for the weekend: Have fun, run smooth and don't sink the boat! Nobody to race but the sweep boat and I was pretty sure I had them in the bag! Gotta watch them though in case they try something tricky...

First it snowed, then it rained, then ...

It snowed about six different times on us on the way over. Cold enough that I stopped and made sure the block was drained. When it wasn't snowing, it was raining. I was anticipating a couple of really wet, really cold days of racing. Nope, didn't happen that way at all, thank goodness. It would rain a little at night, a bit of of a shower in the morning then generally no rain, and that held for both days, except for one notable instance. The weather in Riggins was great. Rained both friday and saturday night, drizzled just a little saturday morning and then was reasonably nice after that.

Saturday Racing

The starts went well, except Chuck Thompson and Jim Madden's motor was popping hard as they left, really loud. We were clear in the back of the pack so we got to watch all the starts and the runs through the big rollers just below the bridge. Some went up the center, some went way right. To the right looked smoother, but I had picked our line for the rollers as up the center, jump over into the slick then bounce through the rest of the rollers. Went just like I planned, didn't get hosed like the last two years! Just past the bridge, we came across Chuck and Jim parked on the left. At least I think it was them, all I could see was two butts sticking up out of the boat as they worked frantically on it. We saw no rooster tails, but we did see Will and B.J. sitting on Danger Zone and waving half-heartedly, just a little bit further upriver. The gamble had not payed off this time, turns out they were done for the weekend.

We motored up the river at a stately pace, I was just feeling my way, almost like a pre-run. I have NEVER driven this slowly or cautiously before in a race. Any time I saw spectators we both waved, and on the flats I wound it out. Not much wind either direction, so Raven wasn't flying much. Didn't even knock loose the thermos of coffee I had duct-taped to the roll bar.

At Black Hawk I tried for tidily fast but not launching through the air sideways fast. We ran up the slick below the big rock that was out of the river, up the left side of the rock in that little slick, then hit it hard at the rock that was underwater. I tried to jump out into the rollers as far as I could. It went very smooth, surprisingly so. The pump only unhooked a couple of times and then we were gone and outa there. Got the OK sign from Lynn.

The rest of the run was more of 4600 to 4800 rpm, not 5000 rpm except when I came to flat spots. On this part of run up we didn't get out of shape except at Lucille. We saw lots of spectators, and I waved at all of them. At Lucille we slowed coming around the corner into the bumpy stuff and saw a safety boat flying the yellow flag, so I slowed even more to about 40 mph. Brian DiLinge and Adam Geis, #215 Rapid Transit, were way in the hell up the bank. In short glances, it appeared they were almost under somebodys deck. Definitely up to the tree line! They were both out and crawling all over the boat and they looked ok. The things you see when you don't have a camera, or couldn't use it anyway! Would have been a good picture...

Around the corner, hopping sideways cause we were now going too slow, wound it up and carried on. A bumpy but uneventful run to the ramp above Lucille and the checkered flag. I let off about 100 feet before the flag which earned me that look from Lynn. We parked and started taking off lifejackets and helmets, and then we heard a race boat coming- It was Rapid Transit! They roared across the line then drove straight to the ramp and the waiting trailer. LOTS of water came pouring out as they were hauled up the ramp.

Rapid Transit had many, many wounds from sliding up that rock pile at Lucille. Smashed off drains, bent sponson, bent hull, popped pump to transom seal. Lots of places for the Salmon to get in. The motor was jacked up in the back, put a severe angle on the driveline. Even knocked one of the brace wires off the wing. Brian said it turned ok one way, but not so great the other. We had about two hours until the run back down so a fair crowd descended on Rapid Transit and started thrashing it to get it ready to go again. They did make it, and in the process had patched most of the holes and even re-aligned the motor to the pump.

It rained a bit, then quit handily before the start back down. Another uneventful run for us. Wind coming up Box Canyon and Raven started to fly, felt good so we sailed for awhile.  Black Hawk was smooth, smooth, smooth. Big heavy boats tend to do that to rough water! Saw no one but spectators, lots of people out watching, more than the last two years I think.

At the bottom I noticed Paul Bagshaw and Rob Soule, #277 Unpredictable, were missing. We were told that they had gotten sideways, and Rob's side of the boat got hammered after which the boat spun out and slid backwards out of the river. All this at 100+. They shoved the boat back in the river, made it the rest of the way down, pulled out of the river and left with much haste. They only lost three minutes doing all those gymnastics.

Off to Riggins for dinner at the Ridgerunner. Good Cookin! Stopped by the Bruce motel to see how Paul and Rob were doing. When Paul crawled out from under the back of the boat where he was filling a dent, he was all blue from filler dust. He looked like a very big, very unhappy, Smurf. Rob was having a beer and was generally philosophical, as is his bent, but did say it was a wild one. The boat had tried to wrap itself around the substantial roll cage that Rob had built. A Very Stout Cage. A crinkle here, a wrinkle there a dent here and a dent there.

Will Chandler and the Danger Zone crew were indeed done for the weekend. Their boat was packed up ready to travel. Been there, done that, it sucks. Bet they've got another motor though or will more than fix this one. About all you can say is sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you and also sorry guys (and gals). As a side note, the Bruce motel appears to be a real party place.

Fastest run on saturday was turned in by Dwain Longfellow and the #244 (B!) Liqui-Fire crew. They were radared by one of Idaho's finest at 110 mph! That is one fast B-boat.

Sunday Racing

The day started with 6 boats ready to race. Chuck Thompson had gotten Rump Shaker going again somehow, Brian DiLinge's Rapid Transit was bent, spindled and mutilated but still ready to race, Paul Bagshaw applied the magical smoothing muds to the bottom of Unpredictable and was on again, the Labrum's with the Pass-O-Fire had no mishaps and were ready to go again, me and Raven had had no mishaps and Dwain Longfellow's Liqui-Fire was running straight, hot and true.
 The start order was:
#244 Liqui-Fire (actually running in B-class not A despite the number)
#277 Unpredictable
#163 Pass-O-Fire (also running in B-class this race, instead of A)
#180 Rump Shaker
#215 Rapid Transit
#16(x) Raven

#211 Danger Zone was out, but they watched the up run, hung around and said goodbye at the top end. It's a long trip back to Coos Bay.

Again, for us, the up run was mostly smooth, but we did push a little harder. Got out of the water a few times. One notable one, we landed kind of on our side, handily a roller right there knocked us back level. Black Hawk was again done quickly but smoothly. The strangest thing happened, as we approached Black Hawk, we could see a big black cloud hanging right there. Rain began pelting us about a quarter mile away, got harder as we went through and stopped completely by the time we left Box Canyon. Weird.

Chuck's motor was again popping like crazy at the start. At the top end they were looking for a fitting to block an injector line, some of the valve train had fallen apart and they were trying to kill that cylinder. I heard theat Duane and Gary Labrum had a wild ride in there somewhere also, but I don't know where or what.

No changes in start order for the run down. The finish line for the down leg was the bottom of Black Hawk. At this point, the order was pretty much set, so nobody was hanging it out too much, the name of the game now was to hold your position and finish.

I was so glad to see the finish line.

The awards ceremony was held at Black Hawk as last year. A truly great announcer, thank you!  Also, a big thank you to Marlene, Frank, Sam, the lady who signed us up, the sponsors of this years race, our flagger and the fellow who did the great drivers meetings. Monster great big beautiful trophys. Ours must weigh 40 pounds and is a big chunk of soapstone with an engraved glass disk mounted in it. Really a neat trophy, has Idaho on it, mountains, a river, a sunrise and of course, a boat! Very classy.

Order of finishes

#277 Unpredictable - Paul Bagshaw & Rob Soule
#215 Rapid Transit - Brian DiLinge and Adam Geis (Hi Harvey!)
#211 Danger Zone - Will Chandler and B.J. Wyatt

#244 Liqui-Fire  -  also Idaho Cup winner for lowest total time - Dwain and Gary Longfellow
#163 Pass-O-Fire - Duane and Gary Labrum
#180 Rump Shaker - Chuck Thompson and Jim Madden

#16 Raven - Jesse LaForest and Lynn Mouser

We left right after the awards, heading for Bend, planning on spending the night there and then doing the rest of the pull to Klamath on Monday. In Burns we saw the Unpredictable crew fueling the truck. I thought we were in front of them! They must have passed us when we stopped at the rest area before Weiser, or maybe when we took the long way through Ontario. I honked and picked up the pace, Lynn commented that hey, we were in front of an a-boat!
That didn't last! About twenty miles out of Burns here the came, the went by us like we were tied to a stump, likely as fast as that truck would run.

Got to Bend, stopped at exactly the first motel we came to. Next morning we were chugging south out of Bend and again saw Unpredictable in a motel, everybody outside loading up. Lynn says don't honk this time! If they see us they'll run us down again! We stopped a little south of Bend and Lynn got the red flag out of the boat, had it on the dash. She was going to wave it out the window if they caught us, then if they pulled over we were going to take off and try and stay in front of them. We stopped for breakfast in Crescent and Lynn stuck the flag on the roll cage, but our plotting was for naught, they didn't stop, just waved as they went by.

Well, I have to talk about everything else and everything else is that this may have been the last Salmon race forever. The turnout of boats is just not matching the effort required to put this race on and I know just how tough it is from a small town angle. Lots and lots of hard work, begging, manouvering, thankless nights and weekends. Usually all done by about four people or less. I wish it was different, I wish I knew a way around it but I just don't. All I can say is that if the race continues, I will continue to come race as long as I have a boat.

I'll be posting pictures as folks send them to me, so keep those cards and letters coming!