Wilson Creek hydroplane racer lives his life at full throttle

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  • Courtesy photo Kurt Myers of Wilson Creek has been racing in the 5-liter hydroboat class for the past four years.

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    Tim Crowley photographyWilson Creek racer Kurt Myers turns the 26E boat loose during 5-liter hydroplane class action this summer.

  • Courtesy photo Kurt Myers of Wilson Creek has been racing in the 5-liter hydroboat class for the past four years.

  • 1

    Tim Crowley photographyWilson Creek racer Kurt Myers turns the 26E boat loose during 5-liter hydroplane class action this summer.

WILSON CREEK — Chances are if you drive by Kurt Myers’ garage most any night during the week you’ll see the lights on and a guy turning a wrench, getting something ready for the weekend.

Myers pretty much spent his whole life in Wilson Creek where the town hosts the Little Big Car Show every summer. A lot of guys like working on cars. But Myers interests are liquid, more specifically, how to go fast on liquid.

The 29-year-old Wilson Creek native likes it fast and furious in the 26 E boat when he runs in the 5-liter inboard hydroplane class in the American Power Boat Association. The boat is designed to run with a 305 motor, but Myers likes a little more kick and runs a stock Chevrolet 350 small block.

“Working on things is just something I’ve always done since I was a kid,” said Myers, who’s run in the 5-liter class for the past four years now. “I really enjoy it when you do good or win a weekend, knowing you’ve done it all by yourself and didn’t spend a bunch of money sending it off to an engine builder. I like to do all the work myself and there’s a great deal of satisfaction in doing that.”

There is a fair amount of adrenaline needed to jump into the seat and race on the various lakes and waterways between Kennewick and Seattle. Sometimes the tow is as short as Soap Lake or Moses Lake, but mostly it’s up and down the coast. He did win at Kennewick a few weeks back and that’s been one of the highlights of the summer, winning on the 4.5-mile course.

“At Kennewick, they did a collective points for the weekend and the guy with the most points turned out to be us. That was pretty cool,” he said. “It was a big course because the unlimiteds were there, so it was the longest course of the summer.”

The competition included a seven-boat field of some of the most skilled hydro racers in the Pacific Northwest. The thing about boats as compared to racing cars, you don’t ever let off. It’s a full throttle charge from the start.

“Driving is a lot of fun, but it’s also a fair amount of work,” Myers said. “There’s no power steering or anything like that. It’s just all done with a steering cable.

“Visibility is limited, sometimes in the corners with all the water you don’t see anything. It’s just a white out until you come out of it. One of the rules of thumb is if you come out of the water, you’re probably headed in the wrong direction. But that’s the toughest part of running boats is that you never let off. They slow down enough on their own, so you’re on it the whole time.”

As hard as they run when it comes competitive spirit on the course, it’s a family atmosphere in the pits and over the course of the weekend. Teams help each other out and work together for the common good, and that’s what makes it fun, Myers said.

“It’s not a cheap sport, but I like a little bit of everything. The fact that I’ve been doing it for so many years in the smaller outboards, it’s the same thing now in a bigger boat,” he said. “The nice thing about the class I’m in is that it isn’t a stock class. You can put as much money into something as you want, but you can still be competitive with a lower budget. You still got to compete.”

It’s a full throttle game where a guy has to put it on the line each and every time out and Kurt Myers wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at rharwood@columbiabasinherald.com.

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