By Gary R. Rasberry
It looks to be a pattern of success for Mark Burghardt.
Five years after winning his first Ohio Governor's Cup, the Michigan native won his second in the 10th anniversary of the revivial of the hydroplane boat races on Grand Lake.
Burghardt -- who drives a boat with the motor in the front of the boat rather than the back -- was the only racer among the record 77 boats in seven classes to post a perfect 4-0 weekend, winnning his heat race and final on Saturday then winning his heat and finally being declared the winner on Sunday.
To get the fourth win and snag the cup, Berghardt had to wait as American Power Boat Association officials watched the tape of the start/finish line to see if he went over the line before the start cannon went off. Going over the start line before the cannon results in a one-minute penalty.
From first glance, it looked like Berghardt was one of three boats that went early. But after the final race of the day, the Grand National Hydros, officials went to the judges area to watch the tape. Through slow motion, it showed that Burghardt was just behind the line at the start, making himself legal. In the race itself, Burghardt had to keep himself behind the one-minute line to retain the all-important first lane -- closest to the inside -- and not have to go all the way around and lose seconds. Somehow, by either shifting into reverse or even turning off the engine, Burghardt stayed behind and earned the spot and went on his way to earn a perfect 400 points for the weekend.
"I really have my crew to thank," said Burghardt after being presented the trophy. "We took the motor apart last weekend and it took all week to get everything back together again. We made it down here and we won."
Going into the final races in each division on Sunday, there were several racers that were also in the running for the Cup.
The first was Bobby Kennedy in the 2.5-Litre stocks. Kennedy was 3-0 going into the final and a win there would have likely put him on the podium for the Cup. Dan Kanfoush -- the 2003 high points champion in the class, however, spoiled the opportunity by winning by 0.76 seconds in the final race. Kennedy, though, earned enough points to take the division title at the Cup.
The other racer that had a chance, especially with his race coming after Berghardt's amid all the confusion, was Dennis Macy. The racer known, of course, as "The Menace" won his first three races as well and needed a win in the fourth to stake his claim. Things did not go right as it looked like he went over the start line too early, but the one-minute penalty came out for certain after he knocked loose a race buoy, ending his chances at the Cup but still earning the Grand National Hydro division title for the weekend.
Familar faces were successful as well for the week. Jimmy Shane of the Shane racing family, won the 1.5 Litre stock points race after dueling with Kasey Browning. Browning, who drove the hot-pink Pepsi Hot Stuff, gained some fans with some strong racing in going 2-2 over the weekend. Browning and Shane were actually tied in points, calling for the tie-breaker. Shane won with the fastest overall time from all four races, edging Browning by five seconds.
Things did not go as well for Bob Dabrowski. "Racer Bob", who became a Celina fan favorite after returning to the Cup a year after nearly losing his life in a wreck on the lake, had one Did Not Finish and one Did Not Start in placing fifth in the 2.5 Modified division. Chris Cordle drove John Shewbook's Sho 'Nuf to the division title.
In the 1-Litre Mods, Jeff Bernard took the title with a 2-2 record but won the points wih 370, 50 more than runnerup Jesse Carlton.
In the National Mods, Darryl Monette won the points title with 395 points and a 3-1 record.
The crowds came out to watch the racing all weekend, shrugging off Sunday's cloudy, cool and misty weather. Saturday saw a 30-minute rain delay after a storm passed through, but the brunt of the rain went north, leaving Celina with just a light show and a few showers.
On the course, the rescue team Box 21 was just called out twice, with the first coming on the first race of the day. In the one-litre opening race, Adam Wilson was heading into turn one on the fourth lap when he got in the air, barell-rolled and went into the water top down. By the time the rescue crew got to the boat, Wilson was out of the cockput and climbing onto the boat, waving to the crowd to let them know he was fine.
The final time came in the National Mods race right before the start as Mike Webster spun out on turn four and was hit by another boat. Webster was fine but salvage crews had to put a flotation device on the sinking boat to get back to the pits.