PORT ANGELES — Sprint boat fans in attendance at Saturday’s American Sprint Boat Racing Series races at Extreme Sports Park were able to see a facility polished to a custom shine.
After a year off from holding races in 2017 while Wicked Racing team owners Dan and Kelie Morrison worked to purchase the property, the grounds of Extreme Sports Park weren’t maintained and vegetation began to take over.
“The whole facility was so overgrown,” Dan Morrison said. “We started in late spring in the worst possible spot, it was like a jungle.”
After the Morrisons announced their acquisition of the park in May and planned two subsequent races (Saturday’s race and another Sept. 29), a lot of hard work and elbow grease went into sprucing up the facility.
“It’s never been this beautiful out here before,” said Melody Pozgay, ASB Racing’s volunteer director of operations.
“Lakeside [Industries] just asphalted the entrance, the [spectator] berms have been done, the [course’s] islands have been shaved. It’s been an all-volunteer effort from many people.”
Another big improvement has been joining the Dry Creek Water Association to supply water to the park.
“We have a new water system into the track, with the Dry Creek Water [Association] now so we aren’t pumping out of a stormwater pond,” Dan Morrison said.
“We got ourselves a finish mower for the fields and now it looks like your lawn.”
“We’ve really busted our butts to make it right and improve the experience for the fans.
“Now all the berms are grassed over and we are just going to constantly make improvements now that we own the place.”
Morrison also said that longtime Wicked Racing team crew member Dan Konopaski and his wife Connie have purchased a minority interest in the park.
“We are partners in the track, and Dan from the start was one of the solo biggest helpers to build this track, digging dirt, moving stuff around. It’s a great fit and we absolutely love having them with us.”
And Konopaski will keep helping out in the pits on race days.
“God yes, he’s an awesome dude that way,” Morrison said. “It will be a big help to have such a mechanically-inclined guy on the team.”
Area racer update
Fans may have noticed two area sprint boat teams, The Gahr family’s Live Wire and the Cummings’ Jeepers Creepers team, both of Sequim, did not race Saturday.
It wasn’t for lack of trying on either end, but life events intruded.
“It’s the first time in 11 years I’m not going to be there racing,” said Sequim’s Paul Gahr, driver of the Live Wire No. 2 boat on Thursday.
The late-breaking purchase of the park and announcement of racing dates conflicted with two previously-planned family events, Gahr said.
“Our families had plans already by the time they came out with the dates and I was just devastated,” he said.
“Normally those dates get posted sometime in January, but this year because of the sale [of the park] word came out in May and the two dates that they picked I have plans on.”
Saturday’s plans? The 50th birthday party for Tim Cummings, Jeepers Creepers owner and Gahr’s brother-in-law. And in late September, the whole Gahr family will head to the Gorge for a concert (Journey/Def Leppard) the same weekend as the second sprint boat race.
Gahr said his race ready 400 Class boat is for sale while his team works to move up to the Unlimited Class.
“Right now it is for sale so I can finish a new boat and I do want to jump up to the super boat class,” Gahr said.
“Dan told me a long time ago where you get to the point where your boats not fast enough, where you aren’t getting through the corners with enough juice, you have to have more power and you have to have a bigger, faster boat.
“That’s where I am at in my race career.”
The boat is listed for sale at tinyurl.com/PDN-LiveWire.
Gahr’s son and navigator Josh, also navigates for Cumming’s son Dillon in the Jeepers Creepers boat.
Paul Gahr said the Jeepers Creepers team also is at work building a super boat (an unlimited class boat).
That new boat’s maiden voyage could potentially come at the second ASB race event in Port Angeles on Sept. 29.
Credit where credit is due
Just talking about sprint boat racing gives Gahr goosebumps.
“It’s been a huge part of my family for 11 years,” he said.
And Gahr said his plan is to make his return for the 2019 racing season with an eye on putting on a show for all the area fans when his team races at Extreme Sports Park.
“Unfortunately it didn’t work for [our team] this year, but I’m ecstatic that it’s coming back to the community,” Gahr said.
“I credit Dan for all his hard work, I’m greatful they put the venue back together so fast. It’s a big boost to the economy and a great recreational opportunity.”