Graham Trucking GT Sets Records at Devil's Lake - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Graham Trucking GT Sets Records at Devil's Lake

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As you all know by now, the Hopp Racing team is a group of "Boat Racing Junkies" with a true love for the sport, and never ending dedication to their Sponsors and Supporters. The Kilo's at Devil's Lake in Lincoln City, OR was no different.  If anything, it was a true reflection of the team and its competitive spirit that helped their boat the Graham Trucking GT-Happy Go Lucky-PumpTech break 3 separate records last weekend.   

The story really began when Hopp Racing took the Jamie Auld Hull UL-15 Graham Trucking GT to the APBA GP Nationals at Lake Chelan, WA September 27-28. During the warm up period of the final heat,  Greg Hopp made a timing run and lost a blade on the prop while at full throttle on "Big Walley", the name of their faithful motor that has helped them through the past six race seasons.  The loss of the blade and vibration caused severe damage to the transom of the boat.  And with only six days until the ULHRA Championships, and with the title on the line, the crew began the grueling work to get the boat fixed.  But they weren't just working on one boat, they were working on two. 

They, also, had the Ron Jones Jr. hull, that had crashed in Port Angeles, WA the previous year that was nearly finished but still had a few loose ends to finish up in order for it to be ready.  So the Hopp Racing crew, in typical fashion, lived at the boat shop. With some crew members working on the Jones hull and some on the Auld hull. Soon, reality set in and it was determined that the Auld hull was too severally damaged to get all the repairs done in time for the Port Angeles race October 4-5, and the decision was made to take the Jones hull to Port Angeles to complete the ULHRA season. All the great efforts by the whole team, to put a competitive race boat on the water, is what carried Hopp Racing's UL-15 Graham Trucking GT-Happy Go Lucky-PumpTech through to win the ULHRA Championship.  

With the ULHRA Championships over it was back to work on the Auld hull in a gallant attempt to finish the repairs so that they could make it for the Kilo's the following weekend at Devils Lake in Lincoln City, OR. More sleepless nights were ahead, as the entire transom and frames in the boat had to be replaced, repaired or beefed up. Parts fabricated and reinstalled.

The deck had to be glued back on, the strut reinstalled and the prop shaft realigned.  Putting the engine back in, taking all the equipment out of the Jones trailer then putting it back in the Auld trailer.  Repacked the truck and only one last thing to do... roll some yellow paint on the repairs just before driving down to Devil's Lake that afternoon.  

Pulling into Lincoln City at 1:00 am Saturday, and grabbing a couple hours sleep then making it to the drivers meeting at 7am Saturday.

For those of you that have never witnessed a Kilo run, it is an awesome event. The big block blower motor singing out a song of raw horsepower at 8,000+ RPM. The sound of the motor echoing off the canyon walls of Devils Lake is a sound you won't soon forget. Boats barely touching the water for 5/8 of a mile and the huge rooster tail you could only see at a straightaway run. The overall speed is determined by averaging a run on the course in both directions.

With the APBA Grand Prix boat and engine rules being overhauled last November and the ULHRA re-joining forces with APBA, the UL and G series boat were eligible for new APBA/ULHRA records. Although Hopp Racing holds the ULHRA Kilo record at 161.980 MPH with a one way run at 162.332 MPH the combined ULHRA/APBA records had yet to be established. That... was their mission.

Hopps registered the Graham Trucking GT Auld hull in the 3 classes. Unlimited Light, G-NACCS and Grand Prix. On Saturday they had "BC" in the boat. Every boat engine needs a name, and "BC" stands for "whatever good parts we could find to put together a motor in Ed Trihey's shop". BC is Hopp's UL 468ci motor with the blower at 80%. Jerry Hopp drove the G-NACCS to an average speed of 146.292 MPH, and Greg Hopp drove the UL to an average speed of 149.396. Then they put a new Scott Baker prop on the boat for the GP run and averaged 155.182 MPH. (see chart below) 

With records established, the plan was to run on Sunday for the GP record with the blower turned up to 120%. This would have added another 300 horsepower and, with the extra ponies, exceeding 155 MPH would have been a walk in the park... But on the return leg of the GP run Greg felt a vibration he didn't like. With the competitive sprit of the Hopp Racing Team, as well as the knowledge and experience, they were faced with yet another difficult decision that needed to be made. To continue racing on Sunday, or to call it quits.  After a good night sleep, something that none of them had experienced over the past 2 weeks, common sense took over and the decision not to run and have the engine inspected was made.

In APBA when a record is set the head has to come off the engine for inspection. Bill Thompson, APBA inspector, checked the blower gearing, compression ratio and cubic inch as well as pulley ratio. The Ed's Automotive engine passed with flying colors.  But... in the process, it was found that a roller rocker stud had broken and would have self-destructed the next time out causing major damage to the engine. Greg's hunch was right, and the decision to not run turned out to be the "right one"...

Jerry Hopp stated "Thanks go to the our major sponsors for helping and believing in our team, Rob Graham Graham Trucking GT, Bill and Happy Rands-Happy Go Lucky and Tom Long and PumpTech. Many others have helped us out as well. And of course the crew Brent Tiede, Bob Donley, Randy Erb, Bob Schellhase, Travis Sellers, Cody Holmes, Bob Kelly-Wright, Scott Baker, Ed Trihey and many others". Also Julie Sparrowgrove for taking the pictures