The smell of sweet race fuel and testosterone filled the air as the racers launched into Lake Grew one by one. Vintage and brand new skis lined the shoreline reeking of blood, sweat and tears from a year’s worth of work that had been poured into them. Some of these machines so expensive they sat in their enclosed trailers up to the moment they needed to be put in the water.
The Pits were all hustle and bustle as owners and racers caught glimpses of their competitor’s machines. If they were intimidated, you never saw it.
Friday was late registration, setup and practice and this is when we saw for the first time at the new Kaotik jump ramp. Not unheard of; however, the first one I’ve seen in the Southeast. At first glance out of the water you might say to yourself, “Sure, I’ll friggin jump that!” It is another story when sitting in the water. Just nudging up to the approach changed some competitor’s minds. The weekend would prove to challenge those jumpers resolve.
Friday night ended in a Meet and Greet at the local Hooters. This has been a tradition since the beginning in Polk City, FL. Saturday kicked off the Hydro Drag weekend in good fashion with Slalom Races, some freestyle fun and then qualifying for the next day’s drag races. We definitely saw some kinks in the launch pad this year which were worked out in short order.
Taking a walk around the Pits, we had Greenhulk, ProRider Magazine, Sea Doo, RIVA Racing, Team Xtreme and many others along with a handful of freestyle pros such as Jason Stoyer, Michael Ratti, Daniel Martin and Michael Petro among the partakers.
Perhaps the most exciting portion of the day was the Speed Alley where racers would finally get radar on their skis to put a speed on their awesome machines. The Speed Alley would crown a new World Record of 101.7mph by Miami resident, Joseph Mastrapa and his partner Manny. Check out the run, video courtesy of bansheeracingvideos: YouTube
The day finished out and with great luck, our own JETSKI JUNKIES Racer, Derek Bowles, took a 2ndplace finish in the Slalom with his vintage X2. This fun and excitement inspired Derek to enter into an amazing Yamaha Blaster conversion build with the help of JJ members and our buddy Brett, owner of JET TRENDZ in New Port Richey, FL. You can find pictures of this awesome build at our website, www.iwannajetski.com.
Sunday is always the heaviest day, strictly Drag Racing and Freestyle competition. The Drags are for the racers who advanced from the day prior during qualifying runs. There is a whole workup of race classes for different levels of racers, from Stock Class all the way up to Unlimited Class.
In between the drags, amateur and profreestyle performers take to Lake Grew turning the flat water into a soup of waves and giving the thousands of spectators a show unlike any other. If you have yet to see a freestyle show, it is a must see, even if you are not into the sport. In January of every year, one of the largest and best freeride events unfold on Daytona Beach. The Daytona Freeride is promoted and hosted by Nicholas Foederer. This event is strictly standup, blaster and X2 skis only and brings together Pros and everyday people from all around the World. This is also a must see.
After the Hydrodrag freestyle show, it’s back to the business of drag racing. Race after race getting the crowd more excited with each run. By the afternoon the atmosphere is all scooter races running along Holy Cow Rd with Latin music pumping along the lake’s shore. It is a jam packed day of exhilaration, not only for the spectators, but for the racers as well.
As the drags neared the end, a call for disqualification against Carlito De Valle took him and the CRT racing team out of the competition which lead to the Unlimited Class winner, Dan O’Keefe, to be crowned.
Mikey Young knowing the CRT Team was highly disappointed in the disqualification call, allowed both Carlito De Valle and Dan O’Keefe to end the drags with a grudge match where Carlito De Valle proved to the World that his 600hp Sea Doo RXP-X, was in fact, the fastest ski in the Unlimited Class. A near celebratory riot broke out in the pits and around the lake; even though it didn’t count for the official IJSBA World Final Hydro Drags, it counted to the entire CRT Team and their fans.
Well if that wasn’t exciting enough, Sunday’s festivities would end with the Kaotik ramp, built by Brad Clark and Brent Venderley, taking center stage on Lake Grew. Many had the chance to inspect the ramp over the weekend; however, only a brave few accepted the challenge. Kicking off the ramp extravaganza was Brad Clark, new Co-Owner of the Jettribe Pro-HydroX Tour (Region 7). Brad set the tone for the day launching into full superman like jumps on his Sea Doo RXP, of course followed by Brent Venderley and a couple other brave souls hitting the ramp with both a Stand up and a blaster.
This ended what was the best weekend of 2012 Hydro Drags since its inception. The overall success of the Hydro Drag franchise brought Mikey Young to the conclusion that a Hydro Drag Race Series would be the new direction for 2013. True to his word, has done exactly that. We will once again convene at Lake Grew, owned by the USA Water Ski Hall of Fame, located in Polk City, FL for the World Finals this November 1 – 3, 2013 to crown this year’s champions & fastest ski in the World. For a cool recap, check out the video @ http://youtu.be/xKZBVa5xulM.
GreenHulk HydroDrag 2013 Round 3 will be at Wooten Park in Tavares FL October 19th and 20th 2013 RIVA Racing HydroDrag Word Finals will be in Polk County November 2nd and 3rd 2013
By Kev Hemingway