The Lucas Oil dragboat season opener—known officially as the NAPA Auto Parts Valley of the Sun 2014 Spring Nationals—got off to a frenzied start in mid-April as the legendary Problem Child Top Fuel Hydro machine got spanked by the Spirit of Texas. Perpetual winner Daryl Ehrlich of Round Rock, TX, who was also the #1 qualifier in the class, was beaten by Scott Lumbert of Creal Springs, IL, in the MAVTV Spirit of Texas boat.
For a race that saw no crashes, spills or injuries, it was a surprisingly carnage-filled event, with more than the usual amount of motors blowing up, parts flying out and fires being extinguished. At one point, the blower in the TFH Whiskey River competitor’s engine exploded, sending a 50-pound rotor assembly airborne and then to the bottom of the lake. (The part was later retrieved, with team members using photographer Mark McLaughlin’s sequence to help locate the area where the incident occurred.)
In other action, Bob Pizza took his What a Tomato machine to victory in Top Alcohol Hydro class, and Randy Ball of Shawnee, OK, took the checkered flag in Top Alcohol Flat’s The Oklahoman.In Top Eliminator, Garrett Breistig of Riverside, CA, took the trophy in Trophy Wife; Stock Eliminator was won by Jake Yeager of West Covina, CA, Pro Eliminator was won by Duane Thornton of Lake Havasu, AZ, Modified Eliminator was won by Anthony Smith of Tuscon in Captain Chaos, and Quick Eliminator was won by Kjell Adams in Fluid Motion. (Adams was recently profiled in Performance Boats Magazine.)Other winners included Terry Kain in Razing Kain (Pro Outlaw) and Michael Beirle in Timeless Addiction (River Racer).