By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
Many, many people in this business have related pursuits and hobbies – some build race cars or restore classics, or tinker up replacement parts in the basement. Recent news out of Seattle reveals the same is true (with a twist) for MACS member, exhibitor and convention presenter Gary Hansen of Red Dot Corporation.
We’ve known for years that the company sponsors Miss Red Dot, an unlimited hydroplane that competes in a national series of races. But it wasn’t until the recent press release on this weekend’s Albert Lee Cup to be held on Lake Washington in Seattle, Washington that we got the deeper story.
First, it turns out that the original sponsorship was only for races in the Pacific Northwest but this year Red Dot is a sponsor for the full season. There several other sponsors on the boat as well. The increased budget allows the boat to compete nationally.
And we found that Gary is not only a sponsor but also one of the boat’s designers. We asked him for the short story. He told us that Nate Brown, the boat’s owner, started Our Gang Racing in 2006, as a group made up of friends, neighbors and assorted race boat types. It was run on a shoestring budget from either minor sponsors or their own pockets. Even with building and racing experience, they knew the only way they could compete in the Unlimited class was to build their own boat because there was no money to buy one.
“The hydro races are huge in Seattle, and growing up I was a pit rat,”
Gary said. “I had friends and family who were involved in hydro racing, and years ago Red Dot provided A/C units for the race trucks used by the Miss Budweiser team, which was the dominant race team at the time. Any chance I got, I wanted to be around the boats.”
“Red Dot and I got involved with Our Gang Racing in 2007. We’re a group of designers, engineers, and racers who have been part of the racing community and decided to build our own boat from scratch. What started as a passion and a hobby has this whole other element to it now that we’re competitive.”
One doesn’t just “go out back and build a boat” (let alone an unlimited hydroplane), and knowing something of Gary’s engineering background, we asked about his actual hands-on involvement.
“I designed the front spar, which is the main structural piece for the boat. The wiring system has the same connectors we use on heavy-duty trucks. We fabricated the stainless steel pieces at our shop.”
After five years of development, /Miss Red Dot / stands third in class for the year, and has developed a reputation for performing above expectations. There are two extremely well-funded boats ahead of her, but the team is tickled to be in P3; they view that as victory in itself. Even competitors give the team high praise for doing so well on that shoestring budget and with volunteer help.
The team is forthright about what it will take to get to the next level, too. Nate Brown was quoted in a local newspaper article, “The only thing holding us back (from the two leading boats) is gear ratios and the willingness to blow up motor boats. I just don’t have the budget to do what it takes.”
Regardless of the hobby, the old adage remains true: “Speed costs money; how fast would you like to go?”
Take a virtual tour of /Miss Red Dot/ at www.ourgangracing.com/U-17_Tour.htm
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.