Bell keeps hydro running
SEATTLE--Des Moines resident and police officer David Bell cannot say he isn't liked in his volunteer job as crew chief for the U-17 Miss Red Dot unlimited hydroplane.
"He's one of my favorite people in the world," said regular U-17 driver Kip Brown as he sat out this past weekend's Seafair Albert Lee Cup festivities on Lake Washington because of a broken leg sustained at the Tri-Cities races the week before. "I'm so fortunate to work with him. I'd go to the ends of the Earth for him."
New crew member Rick Scidmore also had glowing words to say about Bell.
"He's a great crew chief," said Scidmore, a Tacoma resident who works for the sponsoring Red Dot Corporation. "He's fun to be around. He jokes all the time."
Bell has many duties as the crew chief of a hydroplane on the H-1 Unlimited tour besides working on the engine and the hydroplane body.
Saturday he worked to strap in replacement driver Nate Brown -- Kip's uncle who had retired as a regular hydroplane driver three years earlier. Bell also reeled in the straps from a crane used to put the boat in the water, tied the boat to the dock to keep it in place and even swept off the deck.
The accident that injured Kip Brown left a lot of repair work going into Seafair.
"We had a lot of damage in the Tri-Cities, including to the sponson," Bell said. "We fixed it all week."
Kip Brown described the accident.
"I had a steering failure," Brown said. "It flipped the boat and it came back down. The wing pedal came back and broke my leg."
Nate Brown drove the U-17 Miss Red Dot to a fourth place qualifying speed of 145.636 miles per hour Friday, but took a penalty in Heat 1B Saturday.
"He miscued," said Bell. "He hit it early. There was communication trouble with the tower."
Nate Brown turned the boat over to Jeff Bernard the rest of the way, and it still qualified for the consolation heat held before Sunday's final.
"He didn't want to do it anymore," said Bell of Brown. "Jeff has been looking for a ride, and Kip is the radio guy."
The U-17 finished fourth in the consolation race at 126.431 miles per hour.
The boat fared better early in the season before the Tri-CIties accident.
"We did real well in Madison (Indiana) and Detroit," Bell said. "The competition here (Seafair) is tough. For Seafair, pretty much everyone is here, since most of us live here."
Bell did not feel too bad about the Seafair performance, even right after the penalty.
"We're still here and still running," said Bell. "For a crew of all volunteers, that's pretty stellar."
The boat runs under the banner of "Our Gang Racing", with Nate Brown as the leader.
"They all work together as a real adhesive team," said Scidmore of Bell, Brown and the rest of the squad.