Freedom Racing's U-21 is race ready! - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Freedom Racing's U-21 is race ready!

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While Unlimited hydroplanes roll into Evansville, Ind. for the first race of season next weekend, one of the world's fastest boats sits ready-to-race on trailer in a quiet shop in San Diego.

The 2007-built U21 hull competed on the West Coast swing of the American Boat Racing Association circuit last year. Young gun Brian Perkins qualified as a driver in the U21's Tri-Cities debut, and race fans buzzed about Freedom Racing Team's promising addition to the sport's growing fleet.

No one is more eager to see the state-of-the-art Unlimited back on the water than team owners Jeffrey Michael Johnson and Kevin Aylesworth.

So are they reconsidering their decision to dock the hull, and possibly going racing this year?

"Race fans deserve to have this boat on the water," Aylesworth said.

"The best boat designer in the world, the most advanced turbine engineer in the sport, and the crew that put it all together deserve to see her fly," he said. "It's turnkey and ready to race." The former driver said he'll even be at the 100th annual running of the Gold Cup in Detroit...

...With a complete inventory of race equipment for sale.


The chance of reuniting Freedom Racing Team and campaigning the boat
has been completely ruled out.


"All of our time and financial efforts are focused on growing All Access Rentals," Aylesworth said. Selling the boat would help finance the Southern California equipment rental company's expansion into Arizona.

Despite an investment of $1.1 mil. in the boat and racing equipment, Johnson said he and Aylesworth have entertained serious offers for nearly $700k from an investment group out of Seattle and slightly more from a Detroit group. "The offers were fair," Johnson said . "At this value, the equipment won't be on the market for long. We're confident the boat will be in good hands and under new ownership before this season is over."

Over the winter, Johnson and Aylesworth fielded an average of two inquiries a week, and interest is increasing as the season nears. Smaller class racers interested in moving up to the pinnacle of powerboat racing ask a lot of questions about the cost of traveling the ABRA circuit and getting sponsorships. "Unlimited hydroplanes are still the most unique billboard for high-impact marketing campaigns," Johnson said, "and an adrenaline rush that can't be beat."

While the importance of selling race equipment increases as high lifts and reach forks are needed to service their growing base of customers, the need for parts from teams committed to racing this season also increases. At any given time, a competitive team could be in a situation where a motor, a propeller, or even a boat is needed to earn them points at the next circuit stop.

Freedom Racing Team is willing to part-out the turnkey race program to teams with broken boats and sponsorship obligations. Aylesworth values the boat designed by esteemed builder Dale VanWeiringen at $250,000 - a bargain compared to an estimated half-million cost to replace a boat. They're asking $125,000 for the cutting-edge engine built by Tracy Bratvold of Whispering Turbines - the same muscle behind the national champion Miss Elam U1. The former U37 motor that powered Perkins for all of 2 laps at 150 mph last season is $82,000. The motor purchased from the U25 at the end of the 2005 season is going for $50,000. The transporter truck, trailers, propellers, and display boat are also available.

"We have a lot of valuable parts. When the season gets underway, the phone will start ringing," Johnson said.

So for now, one of the world's fastest boats sits ready-to-race on trailer in a quiet shop in San Diego.

Kevin Aylesworth can be reached at 619.316.9515 or kevinall@yahoo.com.

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