U-10 Miss Ahern Equipment Rentals boat repaired; ready for Tri-Cities - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

U-10 Miss Ahern Equipment Rentals boat repaired; ready for Tri-Cities

The U-10 Miss Ahern Equipment Rentals will be ready to go for Tri-Cities.  The crew's been busy repairing the boat at Hydroplanes, Inc. (the former Miss Bud shop) in Seattle.

The boat was damaged in Madison, Indiana and forced to miss the Detroit race in order to make repairs for the West Coast swing.

David Bryant in the U-10 was a half a rooster tail behind Jimmy King in the U-3 and trying to close on turn one of the final lap when something went wrong.  He couldn't make the turn and just ran straight off the course.  The Miss Ahern Equipment Rental struck something in the water damaging the gear box, propeller, propeller shaft line, and strut, said co-crew chief Adam Gregory.

"We definitely hit something," Gregory said. "One blade of the propeller snapped at the hub and there is another blade that was dinged up." Once a blade comes off it upsets the balance of the shaft -- resulting in damage all the way up to the engine, he said.

With extremely low river levels, logs and debris that are submerged in the rivers muddy bottom get churned up and float to the surface.

Last year the team also struck debris in the river causing substantial damage to the hull of the race boat, and in 2004 then driver Mike Weber hit something causing the escape hatch open during racing. There was the blow-over in 2003, said co-crew chief Matt Gregory. Maybe the team will just stay home next year and watch the motion picture Madison, the team joked.

Despite the damage, team owner, Kim Gregory said he is pleased with the progress of his rookie driver David Bryant. It is no longer incremental growth, but growth in leaps and bounds, Kim Gregory said.

David Bryant calls his first race in an unlimited hydroplane "a big learning experience."

"It's all new to me," Bryant said, talking about his first time in the cockpit of the U-10 USA Racing Partners boat.  The boat itself seems almost new as well.  "New wiring, all motors, gearboxes, new props."

"I just hope I don't embarrass them (the Gregory's," Bryant said going into Evansville weekend.  He didn't.  Bryant made the finals at Evansville and finished 5th.  Not bad for a rookie driver in a boat for the first time.

Bryant @ Evansville

Heat 1A

4th Place
Heat 2B 3rd Place
Heat 3B 4th Place
Finals 5th Place

Now to be fair, Bryant had a bit of luck.  In Heat 1A, Ken Muscatel couldn't get his boat started and on the course in time, so that left a four boat field.  In Heat 2B, the U-37 flipped and the U-1 couldn't finish the race and Bryant finished in 3rd.

Still, a successful start and a good weekend of racing.

"It's something you always watched at the races and think that's pretty unbelievable," Bryant said.  "I never really thought I'd have the opportunity (to drive an unlimited."

The Gregory family has a great tradition in boat racing and the U-10 owners tapped Bryant for this season.  A lot of it had to do with his flatbottom boat racing experience.

There are some real similarities between flatbottom driving and unlimiteds.  "When you're on a big course, you're flat out," said Bryant.  Put the gas pedal down and  "leave it there. "  In flatbottoms, you're driving with the down pedal - you do that in unlimiteds, too.  "Straightaway let it fly," he said.  "When you come to the turn, you clamp it (the dow npedal) down and hold it down."