Ken Muscatel calms the waters during tense momentsPosted: Updated:
When things got a little hot with some out-of-town media at the Atomic Cup, it was Dr. Ken Muscatel who calmed the waters.
It was right after the U-13 flipped over the top of the U-6 and rescue workers had to pull J. Michael Kelly out of his boat and onto the rescue sled.
Race officials decided that some of the videographers working for the production company putting together a recap show for Fox Sports were being overly aggressive. They accused them of getting in the way of rescue efforts as Kelly was brought back to shore.
A hastily called meeting near the Media trailer with the production crew and race officials had gotten a little nasty until Muscatel took control, talked everybody down, and resolved the situation.
I guess that's what you get when you have a psychologist as ombudsmen for your sport.
When the races in the Tri-Cities were delayed due to high winds and white caps on the Columbia River, Muscatel stepped forward. He took a few laps around the course to help race officials determine whether it was safe to race. He concluded it was and the racing continued.
Muscatel's been active in hydroplane racing for more than 16 years, but had decided to take this year off. After all, it's a pretty expensive hobby.
He sold his U-25 race hull to the Freedom Racing team and driver Kevin Aylesworth. It was Muscatel's old hull that burned up at Seafair in Seattle this year. But the vacation from hydro racing was not to be.
Muscatel put together a deal with Jim Harvey to lease the Harvey Motorsports team equipment, including the boat, engines, transport, trailer and all that's necessary to run on the American Boat Racing Association tour.
"We're going to use the U-2 and Jim Harvey is still the owner," Muscatel said at the time. "But Superior Racing will operate the program."
The most frequent question the team's been asked on the tour this year is "What's with the 2.25 designation?" It's no secret. The U-2 is from Harvey's boat. The 25 is a salute to Muscatel's old boat, the U-25.
For Muscatel, it's been about the racing and being competitive, if not winning. He's never won a championship race. The boat hasn't won a race since the mid-90's. But there have been some thrills along the way, including this year when Muscatel and the U-2.25 found themselves on top of the leaderboard after Saturday's racing at Detroit's Gold Cup.
After Seafair this year, Muscatel sits in 7th place on the National High Points driver standings.
Many fans remember Muscatel for being at the helm of Superior Racing team when it set a then-world record in the 1 mile straightaway with a speed of 205.494 mph in the Miss Free-i.
But it may be Muscatel's role behind-the-scene of hydroplane racing that may be his biggest contribution. He worked with other team owners during the time the circuit was owned by HydroProp and there was constant friction between race teams and the governing organization. He was part of the group that pieced together the ABRA and continued to be active with the organization.
And, as we learned in the Tri-Cities, mixing his two passions - hydroplane racing and psychology - he's helped keep things running smoothly.