Perkins & U-21 Impress In Tri-Cities Test Session - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Perkins & U-21 Impress In Tri-Cities Test Session

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KENNEWICK, Wash - The GPS said 201 mph.  The smiles on the faces of Greg and Brian O'Farrell, owners of the new U-21 Albert Lee Appliance Unlimited Hydroplane and driver Brian Perkins said even more.

After Perkins completed his first series of laps on the Columbia River in the Tri-Cities area of South Central Washington on May 7, he commented that his new ride, "Goes fast, accelerates and turns.  Everything you want a race boat to do."

Perkins second session on the short course laid out for testing was even more impressive. Perkins thrilled a large crowd of fans and photographers by coming by the docks in the Neal F. Lampson pits at full song and then arcing toward the Pasco side while coming within a few yards of the Kennewick-Pasco bridge several times.

It was obvious the young pilot was enjoying the handling and speed of his new state of the art race boat. Owner Greg O'Farrell said simply, "Wow...what a difference," referring to the older, heavier hulls his team has campaigned previously.

For a frame of reference, at last year's Lamb Weston Columbia Cup, Dave Villwock qualified the U16 Miss Elam Plus at 163 mph.

Kevin Braun, who served as crew chief for the U21 when it last ran in 2008 under the ownership of Freedom Racing Team (with Perkins in the cockpit), said his concern that a new gearbox installed in the boat might compromise speeds were clearly unfounded. The boat is fast not just in the straight-aways, but also in the turns.

Later in the day, Dr. Ken Muscatel did a few laps in his U-25, which underwent a major rebuild during the 2009 season.  Muscatel ran the boat without a cowling and rear wing and was planning to run again the next day. That run was scuttled by engine problems and did not happen.

Tri-Cities Water Follies President Michael Denslow and Event Director Kathy Powell were on hand for the test session and were very pleased with the turnout and the enthusiasm shown by the fans and media on hand.

Powell commented, "Besides giving us a chance to spend some time with great people like Dr. Ken, the O'Farrells and Albert Lee III,  the teams testing in the Tri-Cities gives our Water Follies rescue team an excellent chance to train and lets the community know that spring is here and the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup is not far off."

As the O'Farrell's Go Fast Turn Left Racing Team packed up for the trip back to Seattle and sponsor Albert Lee III packed up the big barbecue that had provided the race teams and media with a day-long feast, it was apparent they were in for a 2010 racing season that should see them joining the front runners among the world's fastest race boats.