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Colorado River News

The Salton Sea Team “400”

Report by Lou Peralta

Woodland Hills, CA – October 23, 2004 – Only seven teams showed up to tackle the biggest, most challenging and longest JetCraft race in history. It was disappointing for the promoter to see so few entries, but not for the racers who were readily on hand as they were given the opportunity to meet an incredible challenge and beat it.

Victorious in that quest was the Overall team of Steve Friebe, Charley Evans and Larry Ham (SeaDoo RXP – Clawson Motorsports, RPM Jet Ski Racing, Riva Yamaha, Hydro-Turf, and Team Crazy); as they completed the seven-hour race logging 52 laps around the 8.1-mile racecourse, in a time of 7:00:47 hrs. When multiplying the number of laps versus the distance of each lap, the total came up to 421.2 miles! Never has any team ridden so long and for such distance to set the world record.

Second overall was the young team of Valerie Brown, 18 (daughter of many-time winner Doug Brown), Charles Fike, 24 and Joe David, 18 (SeaDoo GTX – IMS, Rude Performance, North Hollywood SeaDoo-Honda, Hardline Products), on a “stock” boat! They just kept plugging away and watching others zoom past by them. However, when it was all said and done, they were still running strong in the runner-up position.

Rounding out the top three Overall was “solo” rider, Shawn Allaido (Yamaha FX 140 Cruiser Four Stroke – K38 Rescue, Yamaha Motors), who was “incredible” to not only ride the entire race by herself, but post one of the most consistent lap times of any team. She was an inspiration to all racers, especially women and especially those with non-modified “stock” jetcrafts.

In reality, it really didn’t matter whether there were 70 teams or seven, because with a race such as this one, the competition is not necessarily against other competitors, but between you and Mother Nature and its elements. In Endurance racing this is the norm, more so than in any other form of motorsports.

The Friebe/Evans/Ham team was very fast on a basically “stock” boat. However, they were definitely slower than the other highly modified RXP in the field belonging to the team of John Anik and Nick Vanis (SeaDoo RXP). That four-stroke rocket proved to be at least 4 to 6 miles per hour faster than all others. And for the first four hours, Anik/Vanis were the ones to beat. Once in a while the Friebe/Evans/Ham RXP would close the gap because either Anik or Vanis missed a buoy, which meant that they had to go back and pick it up, or more often than not, when they were in the pits to refuel. Anik/Vanis were slower in refueling since they had just installed a quick-fill system the night before and really did not set it up correctly. Conversely, the Friebe/Evans/Ham RXP could take 10-11 gallons of fuel in less than 10 seconds, compared to almost a minute for the Anik/Vanis team.

But in such an extremely long race, speed is not everything. Besides having quick pits, consistency of speed and reliability of the jetcraft is just as important. And on that point, the winning team had it over the fastest team. Late in the race, with about three hours to go, Anik/Vanis’ SeaDoo RXP started slowing down and making sounds like it did not want to continue at such fast pace. It became painfully obvious to the team that they either would have to back down (way down) or lose the engine and become a DNFer (did not finish).

Anik, Vanis and Friebe were also all going for the year-end points championship and the number 1 plate in the Series. Therefore, Vanis, whose boat they were using, decided that they had to hang on to the end and nurse the engine in the hopes to finish the race, in order to have a chance at the number 1 plate for 2004.

As it turned out, it was a good move because the Friebe/Evans/Ham RXP continued to log lap after lap with tremendous continuity until the last hour and a half when they realized that their challengers were fading. Then, only then, they were able to back off and make sure they finished.

Moreover, the day had started with near perfect weather and very smooth water conditions. At 8:34:55 a.m., when the race started, there was practically no wind, and water was like glass. Speeds were huge! But by about Noon winds started to pick up and on certain portions of the eight-mile racecourse, the chop and swells were becoming more of a challenge with every lap. Looking at the final results and the lap times recorded, you can almost trace when the course got rougher and rougher. So that by the final hours, it was very difficult to post fast speeds. The winning team was averaging 60-plus m.p.h. through the first five hours but then it dropped down to the mid-40s and low 50s m.p.h. Everyone else’s times were also slower, except for a few spurts here and there. That was because the Salton Sea has varying water conditions depending on where you are on the course. It could be nice and calm heading west but as soon as you made the turn and headed south, it could be totally different.

Placing in the fourth Overall position and first among the Pro Open Entries were the early leaders, John Anik and Nick Vanis (SeaDoo RXP). The boat was definitely sick but with four-stroke motors you can nurse them to the finish. They did.

Fifth Overall was the team of Ken Fargen and Kurt Hoehn, who also won their Masters Class. They, too, ran a nearly “stock” boat and found a comfortable pace that suited them both. At the end, they finished the grueling race and won their class.

Doug Brown, Billy Robertson and Jasen Malocco (SeaDoo GTX – North Hollywood Honda-SeaDoo, Rude Performance, IMS, Hardline Products, Skat-Trak, Riva Race, Checkers), made up a formidable team who were one of the favorites to win it all. At the start they sat just behind the early leaders, knowing full well that racing would not start until the last hour of the seven-hour race. Robertson, set an excellent pace and kept the leaders in sight; and then handed the ride (after six fast laps) to a young, fast gun; Jasen Malocco. Malocco took off like a rocket, and after clearing the first buoy about ¾ of a mile from the start, the engine suddenly shut down, overheated and died. It would never fire up again.

A similar fate hit the team of John Belton, Tracy Malan and Johnny Custom (Kawasaki – Chaparral PT, Group-K, Aqua Sports & Jet Ski, Pacific Yamaha, Victorville Kawasaki), when their engine also let go. BPMS officials had to towed the Kawasaki back in. These racers are hard and tenacious competitors and also among the favorites to win. They disappointed not to be in the hunt and challenge for the world’s longest JetCraft race.

On hand were a large number of first-time enthusiasts from the area who wanted to see the action. They could not believe that racers would open themselves to such punishment. One particular fellow commented to this reporter that this was the first time he’d ever seen a JetCraft race, and could not believe the speeds that they could reach. “How do they stay on, when going that fast and hitting the wakes?” he kept murmuring. Sometimes we wonder the same thing.

The race was over exactly 7 hours from its start and a new record was set of 421.2 miles! Everyone who participated helped achieve this record, including those unsung heroes in the pits. In endurance racing Pit Crews are just as important as the racers and they proved it at this occasion.

After the event, everyone moved to the Best Western Date Tree Hotel, in Indio, CA, race headquarters. BP put on a nice BBQ for the racers and crews, augmented by Billy Robertson’s contribution of “carne asada” and “Mexican-style chicken” which were all consumed. The awards followed the feast, and the historic day was complete.

This was the last event of the BP MotorSports All-Around Off-Shore/Endurance Season. Computation of the final points will decide who gets the number one plate, and subsequent positions.

At the awards there were already talks about the 2005 racing schedule, which will be posted soon in BP’s website and sent to racers.

On a personal note, Lois and I would like to thank all the racers, crews and families who participated this year. We appreciate their support and confidence. It meant a lot to us. We also appreciate the support from our sponsors; North Hollywood SeaDoo-Honda, Tom’s Truck Center, Polaris Industries, Kawasaki Motors, Body Glove, Med-Event Ambulance Service, FXF Productions, Tecate Beer, Peralta Design and all the hotels and venues such as Long Beach, Big Bear, Pittsburg, Lake Isabella, and of course the Salton Sea and its director Roland Gaebert and his fine staff.

We will see you all again next year,
and we’ll have a couple of surprise announcements and dates soon. / News

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