KENNEWICK — There was a 4-foot hole in the front of the boat, on the left sponson.
And there were less than two hours before the HAPO Columbia Cup hydroplane final.
But like Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, U-6 Oberto driver Jimmy Shane surveyed the damage and thought, “I can fix it!”
Except it was really, “We can fix it!”
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And so what looked like a bad ending to a good day of racing turned out to be a great comeback for the Oberto team, as Shane eventually drove to victory in the final Sunday on the Columbia River.
The hole in the boat came about in the final preliminary heat of the day when Dave Villwock lost control of the U-37 Cost Less Carpet presents Beacon Plumbing while going deck-to-deck with Shane for the lead.
With Villwock on the inside lane, something in the back of the boat gave out and jerked the boat to the right, hitting the Oberto hard and launching it and Shane about 15 feet into the air.
Shane, the defending national high points champion, made a heroic effort to save the boat from driving onto the Kennewick shoreline and into the crowd.
After he shut the boat down, Shane got out of the cockpit and was mad. He ripped off his radio unit and wouldn’t listen to Villwock trying to talk to him.
But Shane also looked at the damage to the Oberto.
“I made an assessment out on the racecourse,” said Shane. “From what I could see, it was a big chunk missing. I thought we could fix it. I said ‘Let’s do it.’”
Meanwhile, Charlie Grooms, the team manager of the Oberto, called his team together for a meeting.
“I talked about it being just a concerted, focused effort when the boat got back,” said Grooms. “We have a compartmentalized team. Everybody has a job to do. (Panicking) is not what we do.”
By the time the final arrived, Oberto was patched together with masking tape and various materials.
Shane got more time when Jamie Nilsen flipped the U-21 Lakeridge Paving in the first final, delaying the restart of the final 55 minutes.
When the race was restarted, it wasn’t even close.
“We had good position,” said Shane, who has won two consecutive H1 races. “I knew that we had good position at the start of the race. We had the best position in lane 1 to get to clean water.”
Shane averaged 145.294 mph over the five-lap final, well ahead of the 139.177 mph average of runner-up Jon Zimmerman and the U-9 Les Schwab Tires-Team RedDOT.