By:  Don Wollard
don@rumrunnerracing.com 

Billed as "The Race of the Century", the 1999 NAMBA Fast Electric Nationals proved to be much more. How about, "the fastest - fast electric race ever held". 7 new North American speed records were set. The five lap, sub- one minute barrier was broken. History was made.

Over 3 days in November, the Central Florida town of Kissimmee became home to a hardy group of anxious racers. Originally scheduled for mid September the race was delayed for two months at the hand of Hurricane Floyd. Balmy tropical Florida fall weather lead the way for fast, slightly choppy water. Old friends and new raced hot boats powered by 05 and exotic motors to new records. New boat designs and innovative set-ups streaked across the water leaving shimmering roostertails and sighs of relief when one actually finished. Even though the water was fast, a brisk north breeze sent most drivers (and there boats) into ‘never-never land’ while a few lucky drivers captured top positions.

Before you read any further about this race, please take a moment to visit the sponsors page at the end of this article. Our race sponsors are the people who made this race happen. Without there support, Fast Electric Racing would be without notice. Thank you sponsors for your support. Hope to see you at the Spring Splash and the 2000 NAMBA Nationals.

The Central Florida High Voltage Club hosted the 1999 NAMBA Nationals. Club honcho’s, prez Tony Colorusso and district director Chris Harris oversaw the festivities. These two guys handled a huge job specially when they were surprised at the last minute when a local gas club who were booked to officiate the race failed to show up. Chris and Tony sacrificed most of there own racing opportunities so the race could go on. Many hats are off to you guys. You are the best!

Donnie presenting Tony and Chris their special Thank You Trophies...

Day One. At race time it was 60 degrees with a breeze gusting up to 20 MPH. The lake was choppy so the race course was set-up on the north side. The side with the least chop. 6 cell Crackerbox Class mono’s were first to race. In this class, the inexperienced and experienced racers compete on equal footing. The boat hulls follow strict design parameters as do the stock motors. Racing was 6 time National Champion Dick Crowe who battled side by side with 14 year old Daniel Wollard and other competitors including motor magician Rob Micheals.

The Crackerbox's lined up for Concorse Judging

The Cracker Box is a scale class and each boat must include scale drivers and other features similar to the full size boats. The Cracker Boxes are not the fastest boats on the pond however it takes a lot of skill to drive. Specially in a chop. At race time, boats went left, boats went right. Others went upside down. Dick Crowe once again prevailed and took top honors with 14 year old Rum Runner Team driver Daniel Wollard in second place followed closely by his brother Donnie. Daniel and Donnie both drove home made wooden boats. You can get a copy of the same plans they used from R/C Boat Modeler Magazine. Build your own Cracker Box and join in the fun. Joe Kornegay won the Concours Trophy for his expertly prepared boat. Joe traveled from Alaska for the race. Rob Micheals took fast time at, 1:23:12. Central Florida High Voltage sponsored this class.

Daniel Wollard with his 2nd Place Crackerbox

N-1 Mono (Stock motor-any mono hull with 6 cells) was next. This is a very popular class nationwide and sported the second most entries at the race. Anyone can be competitive with a very inexpensive set-up and a little driving instruction. Ready to race, an N-1 Mono can be set-up for around $100 including motor and hardware. You can build a similar boat in wood from plans, purchase a plastic kit, or acquire an epoxy race boat like a Fuller’s Fast Electric RTR Maus Micro-Bullet. Regardless of your choice and budget, the prevailing boat is the one that is carefully prepared. At the race, that was most all of the boats. Fast, fun to drive and even more fun to race. There was just enough chop to make these boats perform like there full size brothers. Dick Crowe, driving for the Fuller’s Four Corners Team edged out ‘mono-master’ Greg Schweers to take first place. Dick also won fast time at, 1:23:47. Dick’s boat is a Fuller’s prepared Maus Micro Bullet powered by a Fuller’s Stock Motor.  Central Florida High Voltage sponsored this class.

At almost dusk, the final heat of N-1 Mono began!

N-1 Hydro (Stock motor-hydroplane hull with 6 cells), followed and proved to have a lot of interest. 6 cell stock motors don’t offer a lot of power for a hydro. So how do you go fast? Ask Rob Micheals (Rob is the owner of Superior Hobbies in Orlando and is linked from Rum Runners Links page). For the second year in a row, Rob displayed his stock motor skills and smoked the field with his super light Hammer Head rigger. Rob lapped everyone he challenged and took top honors with a fast time of 1:05:50. Way-to-go Rob! Hey Dougie! Was Rob’s motor really stock?  Rum Runner Racing sponsored this class.

1/16th Scale Sport Hydro is a popular class and very fast. Limited to 8 cells and a ‘sport’ scale hydroplane type hull not to exceed 24 inches in length. The big dogs all entered this class including top drivers like Jeff Vasquez, Dick Crowe and Greg Schweers. Dick holds the current NAMBA straight-away record for this class at over 49 MPH.

These boats have to be meticulously set-up to compete at these speeds specially when the water is choppy. Several factory teams were present to race 1/16th scale including Maus, Fuller’s Four Corner’s, DPI, BBY, and the new comer - R/C Hydro’s.

Power was as diverse as the boats. Plettenbergs, Aveox, Lehner, and a variety of 05 Can Motors. Most of the boats raced were made from epoxy or were from plastic kits. Dick Crowe driving his Fuller’s prepared Maus shovelnose took first place. Concourse was won by Dennis Witt who had an absolutely beautifully finished BBY.

First place was awarded to Dick Crowe. Dick’s boat is a Fuller’s prepared Maus Shovelnose powered by a Plettenberg motor with Fuller’s hardware and Fuller’s special cells. Greg Schweers was a close second. Greg also raced a Bandit Boats Shovelnose. Greg used an Aveox 1409/1.5 for power. Greg's boat was borrowed from Mark Ferraira who was unable to attend.  Jeff Vasquez took fast time setting a new NAMBA record of 52:03 seconds. That was almost 12 cell rigger speed. What’s your secret Jeff? Jeff’s boat was a Maus Shovel nose and used an Aveox1409/1.5 for power with Schweers/Fuller Hardware and Ballistic Batteries.  Fuller’s Fast Electric sponsored this class.

Dick Crowe and his "World Famous" Maus Shovelnose

1/12th Scale Sports Hydro also raced on the first day. This class features a slightly larger boats with 12 cells and any motors. The hulls must also be semi-scale to the full size unlimited hydroplanes. By the time this class raced it was later in the day. The lake had begun to chop-up and racing was tough going. But fast. The larger boats seemed to handle these condition the best. However all drivers had problems. Doug Twaits, Jr. took top honors driving an older plastic boat. How old was that boat, Dougie? Doug used Aveox for power. Maus Motorsports, Fuller’s Four corners, R/C Hydro’s and DPI made up the factory teams.

Andy Kunz and his RC-Hydros.com Miss Earl

Fast time was taken by Larry Larson at, 50:47. A new NAMBA class records. His boat was really flying. Larry raced a home built wooden boat that he constructed from R/C Boat Modeler Plans, with an Aveox 1412/1.5Y for power. Larry choose Fuller’s hardware, Xipp matched batteries and an Octura M447 prop. What a neat boat! Larry has written a story about his experience building this hull. Larry’s story will be published exclusively on the Rum Runner site, very soon. RC-Hydro’s.Com sponsored this class.

Larry Larson holding his Record Setting 1/12 Scale Hydro

12 Cell OPC Tunnel. Not an official NAMBA class at this writing however run at the past 3 NAMBA Nationals. This class is expected to become official, early next year. Limited to 12 cells, any scale-like Tunnel hull and any motor. The hulls are similar in size to a 3.5 Nitro racing tunnel hull and very handsome. They look and run just like their full size cousins. Driving skill and a well set-up boat is what it takes to win in this class. A number of manufacturer’s are now producing hulls for this class including Bandit Boats, DPI, BBY and Hyperformance Products. I am sure other’s will soon join.

A BBY Tunnel Hull

Chris Harris held his impressive Bandit Boats tunnel on the course and sweep his way to a first place trophy. His boat featured a Plettenberg motor mounted to a Hyperformance drive. An impressive combination. Bandit Boats are linked from Rum Runner’s Link’s page. Be sure to visit them soon. Young Mike Hatt with the Sarasota Club impressed everyone with his driving and snatched a clean second place finish. Hey Mike! Write us a story with pics about your boat and experience at the NATS. Dennis Witt took fast time with a solid 1:05:41.  Superior Hobbies sponsored this class.

Chris Harris drove Mark Ferraira's "Bandit Boats" to become National Champion

Day Two.   The weather improved slightly, the sky was bright and racing began. This was the most intense day of the entire event. From 8:30 am until 5 pm was literally non-stop racing. Racing had to be cancelled because it got dark.

N-2 Mono (Any modified motor, any hull with 6 cells) was the first event on the water. This class produces fast racing for a 6 cell powered boat. To be competitive here, a racer must have his equipment dialed in. To win in this class, a driver must have good driving skills with an expertly set-up boat. The most popular boat racing this class was the Maus Micro Bullet. The fastest set-ups used direct drive motors with Schweers or Fuller’s hardware. The only top finisher with an exception was Team Rum Runner’s driver Donnie Wollard’s English Sabre. Donnie’s boat sported a Hughey Gear Drive with a Fantom 12/6 motor and custom made hardware. Donnie was ripping the race course however got upside down in two heats and still managed a respectable 4th place overall. Jeff Vasquez took first place with his Maus Micro Bullet powered by an Aveox 1409/1.5y. Jeff’s boat was set-up by Greg Schweers and used Schweers/Fuller products hardware. An impressive setup with an expert driver. Fast time also went to Jeff who set a new record at 1:06:50. Congrats Jeff. Central Florida High Voltage sponsored this class.

A couple of Rum Runner Riggers rounding turn four

N-2 Hydro (Any modified motor, any hydro hull with 6 cells). Over the past few years, this class has greatly improved and speeds have increased to the point that this class is approaching 8 cell hydro speed. This was the second most popular hydro class at the race and the third most popular class to race, overall. N-2 hydro at the Nats became the first big test for the 1999 Team Rum Runner’s new out-rigger design. Racing in this class was Team drivers, Rob Micheals, Brian Vega, Donnie Wollard and Daniel Wollard. So how did these little home made wooden boats do? First, third and fifth place plus Fast Time was the answer. Brian ‘Cool-Hand’ Vega smoked the field with 3 first place finishes and took top honors. Rob Micheals took third place and produced a fast time of 55:33. Donnie grabbed 5th place with a wet ESC. Way-to-go Team!  Hammer Head Marine sponsored this class.

Brian Vega with his NATIONAL CHAMPION Rum Runner N-2 Rigger

O-Mono (Any modified or exotic motor-any mono hull, with no steps- max. 8 cells). This class run boats that are very similarly set-up to the boats in N-2 Mono. The big exception is power. The faster boats were really dial-in and tracked very well. The Maus Micro Bullet showed its stuff and literally dominated this event. Racing was neck and neck and the drivers skill and luck made the difference. In what turned out to be one of the wildest heats of the entire contest, Jeff Vasquez driving his bright yellow Maus hit a wake an noose dove his boat at turn one. Perhaps as many as 5 or 6 seconds went by and then Jeff’s boat reappeared. Jeff, being a true ‘die-hard’ racer never relaxed his throttle. The boat did a ‘flipper’ and jumped out of the water at least 6 feet high. Slammed down and Jeff kept racing. Richard Hernandez squeezed by Jeff to take the first place, overall.  Fast time went to Greg Schweers who set a new record of 58:53 seconds. Hughey Boats sponsored this class.

 

Offshore (Any scale looking hull - any motor or combination of motors- 12 cells. The entire set-up must be at least 31 inches long). Debuting for the first time at a NAMBA Nationals, this new class sprang to life with a lot of attention and spirit. The race course was configured into a two sided (two left hand turns) M-shape for this event. All racers had to make both left and right turns plus complete 5 laps in 3 heats. In addition, there was a Concourse competition for the most scale looking boat. Since the class is new to NAMBA racing, there seemed no clear advantage in hull types or set-ups. Very few kits are made which meet these specifications so many of the racers got creative and created their own boat from scratch or modified an existing kit boat. Then the heats began. What an exciting event for FE boat racing. The racers and spectators alike cheered, oooohed and aaahhed as the action unfolded. It was great. There was true position racing, flips, roll-overs, bumps and skins.

Offshore boats competing for top honors

Mono’s and Offshore style CATs were evenly divided among the field. When the racing was over, Doug Twaits, Jr. and Chris Fine were head to head. Doug won out on points and earned the first place trophy. Both drivers race a Fine Design-Warehouse hobbies Offshore scale mono. Both boats used Fine Design hardware with Cordite motors. Good job gentleman. A great race. Fast time went to Doug Twaits, Jr. at 1:37:60. The Concourse trophy went to Dennis Witt.  Rum Runner Racing sponsored this class.

Chris Fine and Doug Twaits Jr. with their Fine/Warehouse Offshore Boats

P-Hydro (Any modified or exotic motor-hydroplane hull with 12 cells). Dominated by out-rigger hydro’s and exotic motors, this is a popular and fast class in NAMBA racing. Doug Twaits, Jr. nipped out first place and set a new class speed record with 44:88 seconds. The Twister rigger’s dominated the top 5 places as did Aveox motors. Hummm!

This was a very fast class with 18 entries. All of the boats entered were fast and vaporized the water. I notice that several drivers choose the Plettenberg 290/40/3 motor. This motor shows real promised for the near future. However, ESC’s will have to improve a bit to handle this mule. The Aveox model 1412/1.5Y was the motor of choice of the top finishers. Could this be a hint of things to come?  Model Craft World sponsored this event.

Jeff Vasquez's 12 Cell Rigger

Q Mono (Any modified motor, any mono hull with 13 to 18 cells) was next. This event drew a of attention. Big boats, big motors, a lot of batteries and rooster tails. The Maus Bullet was the boat of choice for most of the drivers in this event. Doug Twaits, Jr. grab the first place spot with Jeff Vasquez on his heels for second place and fast time. Jeff’s speed was 1:20:72. This class raced 5 laps instead of the usual 4. What was interesting here was that many of the drivers used there P-Mono boat to race. They made a few changes, added the proper batteries and off they went. Jeff Vasquez, for example, raced his Maus P-Mono boat. The changes he made was he switched to an X442 prop and 16 cells.   Superior Hobbies sponsored this class.

 

Day Three. The weather changed again.   This day had the lightest schedule. Early morning testing was delayed a few minutes while the heavy fog lifted.  But once the sky cleared up, it was the prettiest day of the three.  Racing had to be completed by noon to provide time for the awards ceremony and cleaning the site.

The Day 3 foggy morning scene...

O-Hydro (Any modified or exotic motor-hydroplane hull with 8 cells) was the most popular racing class at the event. 16 total heats of neck and neck racing produced absolutely wild action. NAMBA O-Hydro has improved to the point of 12 cell hydro speeds of just a few years ago. Doug Twaits, Jr. won first place with his 05 motor powered Twister rigger. Doug also had fast time of 49:87 seconds. That’s moving!

Rob Michaels brand new O-class Rum Runner Rigger was launched for the first time the morning of the race. With only two passes to make adjustments prior to his first heat, Rob’s boat clearly had the speed and handling to win. In one heat, Rob flipped his boat 3 times and each time the boat landed right-side-up. Talk about luck. Rob came back and managed a second place finish in the heat, anyway. Donnie’s boat was easily as fast. He was racing with a wet receiver and ESC, borrowed from Dad. The ESC eventually gave out and left him stranded. Both Rob and Donnie power their boats with Plettenberg motors.  Rum Runner Racing sponsored this class.

Doug Twaits Jr and Larry Larson coming around for the finish

P-Mono (Any modified motor, any mono hull with 9 to 12 cells) was almost as exciting and competitive as O-Hydro. The Maus Bullet with Aveox, Cordite or Plettenberg power seemed to be the race favorite. However there were many other fast boats and power systems racing. For example, Scott Harris competed with his Cesa powered by 05’s on gears. Scott won a respectable 3rd place. In any event, a dialed in boat and driving skill is what it took to place in this class. In most heats, more of the fleet was upside down than running at the finish. Jeff Vasquez blasted to first place an set another new national speed record with a blistering 52:65 second heat. Jeff’s boat was a Maus Bullet powered by a 1409/1.5y Aveox, an Aveox L160 marine ESC, Schweers/Hyperformance Hardware. 

P-Mono's flying up to a start

Q-Hydro (Any modified or exotic motor-hydroplane hull with 13 -18 cells). These boats were simply amazing. Racing 5 laps, each driver had to pay close attention to his speedster to even complete a heat. What I notice most was the boats in this class were very similar to the boats ran in P-Hydro. Except for the number of batteries, the major difference I noted was the beefed up running hardware. The second and third place finishers used 40 Nitro size running hardware. Jeff Vasquez out drove the field to take first place. Doug Twaits, Jr. set a new national speed record at 54:44 seconds. Again, that was for a 5 lap race. Fine Design Manufacturing sponsored this class.

 

High Points. This years National High Point Champion was Doug Twaits, Jr. who did a marvelous job driving and competing all weekend. Doug is known for his expertly prepared boats and flawless driving. Well done, Doug.

Doug Twaits Jr., NATIONAL HIGH POINTS CHAMPION

 

Final Note:   

Central Florida High Voltage Club stretched the race budget and awarded trophies to the top five finisher’s in each class. That was a nice touch.

At the conclusion of the raffle, the racer’s joined with the club and made a donation of the raffle proceeds to the Chris Harris Family. They have a medical emergency which requires immediate attention. Our prayers, best wishes and God speed are with them.

And last, a special thanks to Donnie Wollard who spent countless hours building and updating the ‘99 Nats website, contacting and lining up sponsors, designing and coordinating the terrific trophies, keeping communications open with all the racers and answering hundreds of e-mails. That was quite a job! As much as he enjoyed being a part of the production of the race, next year Donnie says; "I will be working more on my boats this coming year and less on that darn computer".

It was a great racing season. I can only imagine what 2000 will bring to F/E Boating. Will 80 MPH be reached and the Rum Runner’s Cup be awarded? 

Let’s do membership drives next year and expand our hobby.

Make a youngster’s day. Introduce them to F/E boating. You will both enjoy the encounter.

Stay tuned.

The 1999 NAMBA Nationals Sponsors Included:

 

For a detailed list of winner and setups
Go to the WINNERS SHEET...
 

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