1997 JN Automotive Hydrofest

First day of qualifying for eighth annual JN Automotive Hydrofest

After a morning test session which saw PICO (165.926), Close Call (165.310), Appian (163.088) and U-99 KGMB Channel 9 (156.898) zooming around the wide, 2,200-foot turns of another Russ Dodge-designed course, anticipation was at a high level for the first qualifying session. Mark Tate, getting ready to drive his final race for owner Steve Woomer, quickly set the pace, churning around the 2 1/2-mile course in an average speed of 167.143 mph. Three other boats got in qualifying times before heavy rain sidetracked the proceeding for a couple of hours. Best of those was Mark Weber in the Miss Budweiser at 164.123. But, when the showers subsided and Fred Leland's two-boat team took to the waters, Mark Evans quickly elevated the PICO American Dream into the second-best spot on the provisional ladder with a 165.987 mph lap. The Budweiser requires 643 points to clinch a 17th national O'Doul's high point title for owner Bernie Little. Third place on the qualifying ladder would provide 23 of those. The first-day speeds:

1. Mark Tate, Canton, Mich., Close Call Phone Card, 167.143
2. N. Mark Evans, Wenatchee, Wash., PICO American Dream, 165.987
3. Mark Weber, St. Clair Shores, Mich., Miss Budweiser, 164.123
4. Mitch Evans, Chelan, Wash., Appian Jeronimo, 162.549
5. Rick Christensen, Eatonville, Wash., KGMB Channel 9, 156.516
6. Nate Brown, Preston, Wash., Miss TruckGear, 156.424
7. Steve David, Pompano Beach, Fla., Deja Vu, 155.936.

After an Unlimited Light testing session involving the five boats here, the second qualifying session was slowed by a persistent rain. No speeds were improved. Ken Muscatel, Seattle, Wash., is yet to qualify. More sessions are carded for Saturday, along with a trio of ULRS preliminary heats.