SEATTLE, Wash. - Kevin Aylesworth had a slight limp after he escaped from his buring U-27 on Sunday. Aylesworth joked he would 'walk it off.' But Aylesworth's boat was damaged considerably.
The fire damaged the U-27's brand new engine and the exterior of the boats was noticeably blackened by fire. Aylesworth estimates repair costs at anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000.
"You budget for damage to the back end and propellers," says Aylesworth "but torching the boat for twenty minutes? You can't budget for that."
Most racing teams say the amount of money they spend on their boats is far greater than the amount they rake in.
After a third place finish at the Atomic Cup, The U-6 'Oh Boy Oberto!' spent $50,000 on repairs. Atomic Cup winner Dave Villwock took first place in the final. His winning purse was $11,500.
"Everyone comes out in the red," says U-6 Crew Chief Michael Hanson "I don't think anyone makes a lot of money doing this."
The Chevrolet Cup offered a first prize package valued at $15,000. Hanson says teams don't rely on winnings too much. Hanson estimates it cost between $200,000 and $300,000 per year to maintain a boat. He says sponsors and advertisers help fray the cost, but the bottom line in this sport isn't the almighty dollar. Hanson says it's more about competing for the love of the sport.