A Wife's Perspective [Tami King]
Driving an unlimited hydroplane is one of the most exciting jobs on earth. However, for the wives, children and crew members it's another type of feeling, one of anticipation, joy, disgust, and sometimes even fear. While I was in Evansville I had the opportunity to speak with a few of the hydroplane drivers wives and crew members. This is their feelings on their loved ones and crew mates as they partake in this dangerous yet exciting sport.
Tami King, driver Jimmy King's wife understands that her husband is having fun, because as she puts it "it's what he likes to do". She's goes on to say "it's a little tough being on this side of it, but I am here to support him."
Tami does not want to hear what's going on, however she states that "I need to see the boat. I just want to stand there and watch the thing and hope that everything goes okay."
Bobby King, Jimmy's son has a different viewpoint. He says he "hopes dad does well, and it's really fun watching him." On the subject of getting nervous watching his dad Bobby says that "only when he is flying" that's when he gets nervous.
Tami does not share her husband's flair for adventure. "I would never be a driver; I am not the thrill seeker that Jim is." Hydroplane racing is something that she would never do. Taking her sons Bobby and Jeffrey to hockey games is the height of her adventure.
Emily Estes, who is dating U21 driver Kevin Aylesworth, says "it's tough. It's nerve-racking. These are the world's fastest race boats and they go up to 200 miles per hour. They do not have brakes, and you never know what's going to happen. We had one of those experiences in San Diego last year, in the unlimited light; it's very emotional and difficult."
Emily does go on to say that she does watch Kevin. She says that she "is a boat racing fan and that's how she and Kevin met. I am very supportive of what he does, and the efforts behind this team. I want to see him do well."
Debbie Gregory, whose husband Kim Gregory owns the U10 team, states that "every time the boat goes out, she is a nervous wreck. My big thing with boat racing is that it stays safe. It's always nice to see a win and see a beautiful boat ride, and when the driver and boat comes back to the dock upright, I am a happy girl!"
Debbie says that she "paces the dock and is a basket case the entire time the boat is on the water."
Mark Hooten and his son Lee are crew members on the new FormulaBoat.com team. Mark got started in boat racing several years ago while he and his wife Julie were photographers and became acquainted with Jim Harvey. "Jim took us in like family, and when Lee was 14 and was able to be insured, Jim made him a crew member." Lee, now 17 says "it's amazing, and the opportunities there are is unbelievable. Just the privilege to work on a premier team like FormulaBoat.com is an honor."
Mark comments that he does get a little nervous "when the boat goes out, he knows he and the crew has done their jobs, and that it's up to Mike Allen and he will do his best every time he goes out. There is a little bit of anticipation to see how the boats going to perform. With equipment like this you know you have done your best and everything will go well."
On the idea of becoming nervous when the FormulaBoat.com team goes on to the race course Lee commented "not as much anymore, I use to get a little nervous when the boat would sponson walk coming down the straightaways, but I feel good about this boat and this driver"
Mark laughed and said he used to "get a little nervous" when current U6 driver Steve David drove for a team that he crewed on.
Elam Plus driver Dave Villwock's wife stated that she feels "a little bit of everything. After the accident in Tri-Cities I was a mess. I was more than a mess; I was a basket case. When we had to go visit Dave in the hospital, I had to have my sister take me." Pam stated that even though Dave knows what he is doing, she still gets a little nervous when he goes racing.
Many fans believe that racing is just about the driver. However, there is an unseen force behind them. When they go out on the race course, and then return to the dock, safe and sound, and see a loved one or a crew member's face, and see the anxiety, they realize that they are not alone when they drive.