OLYMPIA – Dustin Echols had no clue exactly how fast he was going.
“I normally just use my crew as a measuring stick of how well I did,” Echols said after the first heat of Grand Prix hydroplane races at the 38th Black Lake Regatta on Sunday. “They seemed pretty excited when I got out of the boat. So I knew it had to be OK.”
The Shockwave Racing crew had reason for cheer as officials at the Skookum Creek Tobacco & Kamilche Trading Post Championships clocked the Echols-driven Miss Ted’s Red Apple Market at what was originally thought to be a world record, posting an average lap at 125.397 mph on the 11/4-mile course.
The winning speed beat the previous mark of 116.129 mph over the five-mile, four-lap course set by Echols in the same craft a year ago.
The celebration, however, lasted approximately one hour.
Echols, driving for owners Rick and Shawn Bridgeman of Olympia, was later informed by officials that times had to be recalculated due to a scoring error.
The adjusted winning speed was 115.8 mph.
“They told us they had got the math wrong and once it was corrected we came up a little shy of the mark,” said Echols, who won G-Class national championships in 2008 and 2009. “I knew we were going to have a shot at (a world record). You never really know for sure what your times are when you’re driving. You’re just looking to the next buoy, but I knew it was going to be close to it. It’s disappointing, but it still ended up being a great time.”
The Miss Ted’s Red Apple Market, a 25-foot limited hydroplane with 1,500 horsepower, topped out around 150 mph during the straightaway.
“The waters were rough today. A lot rougher than they were last year,” Echols said. “They say the rougher the water the faster the times. I think we averaged about 117 mph during our best lap. So everyone is really pleased with the performance.”
Originally, two heats of the American Power Boat Association’s inboard hydroplane Grand Prix class were to be contested on Sunday, but a variety of mechanical problems on several of the boats limited racing to one heat.
Shockwave Racing continues its Grand Prix West 10-race season with the annual Water Follies in the Tri-Cities, July 29-31.
Shockwave Racing’s victory came one day after 32-year-old driver Ryan Butler of Buckley died after his 18-foot superstock flat-bottom boat crashed during the opening day of the event.
“It was a tough day. As drivers we know the risks involved and accept them,” Echols said, “but that doesn’t lessen the emotion when something like this happens. We are a very close-knit community, especially the drivers.”
Officials met with teams prior to Sunday’s action to determine whether or not to continue racing.
“Rick came to me during the morning and asked if I wanted to drive today,” Echols said. “Then all the drivers met up and ultimately decided that racing was the right thing to do.”