Follmer and Womack Win the Emotionally Charged Marathon
The MARK HAHN MEMORIAL Lake Havasu 300 Team Race
Team Follmer began the long trek to Lake Havasu for the Mark Hahn Memorial early Thursday morning. There was still a lot to do to insure that this very important race came off without any more hitches than had already been encountered in the preceding weeks and months. Immediately upon arrival we motored over to the offices of the Today’s News Herald for an interview I scheduled to promote the “Worlds Longest Continuous PWC Race” in the weekend edition of the paper.
After concluding the interview we delivered some of the trophies and contingency awards to Topper’s restaurant where the awards banquet was going to be held and make the final arrangements with their superb staff. Then we were off to make a final inspection of the new race site at Crazy Horse where we discovered that the water level had increased from our visit two weeks ago and had made another small lake out of the fuel pit area and obliterated the sandy beach we had planned on using to fuel the large field of racers. Deciding that this dilemma was going to take some serious thought and planning, we left the site and went over to Bullett Racing to gather up the rest of the trophies, make a final check with Tim Gewecke regarding the race planning, and then went back to Topper’s to drop off the balance of the trophies.
We decided to get an early start and try to move some of the dirt around in the pit area to fill in the lake and make the site better suited for the activity it would see on race day. After getting the paper that had 2 articles about the race, we armed ourselves with a broken shovel and an old rake and began to throw dirt from the hillside into the recess and around the shoreline. After a couple of hours, we made a small amount of progress filling the lake in and were resolved to the fact that this was going to take all day and maybe more, when up rode our savior, Larry Noble. Larry saw what we were doing and the broken implements we were doing it with and deemed us “insane”. Larry said he would go to Wal-mart and get some real tools and return with his crew to help us out. True to his word, an hour later he returned with an armload of new shovels and rakes and his mighty crew to use them. After another couple of hours of frenetic activity the pit area was in great shape and ready to use.
Race day saw the bluffs above the lagoon filling up early with all of the rigs belonging to the 27 teams entered, and a large contingency of sponsors, officials and friends, all anxiously awaiting the start of this very special event. We unloaded all of our fuel and equipment, set up our fuel area and passed the time waiting for the riders meeting and the start of the race by doing some great bench racing, remembering tales of Mark Hahn, and setting our race strategy with my teammate, Billy Womack. The riders meeting only served to heighten the emotions of the crowd as everyone was reminded of the reason we were all there, to honor Mark Hahn and have a good time as he would have wanted. Mark was obviously smiling down on the race as the threatening weather seemed to abate and turn into a gloriously sunny day just as the riders meeting was adjourning.
The rolling start just before 11 o’clock was a real sight from the shore as all 27 entrants rumbled in a line anticipating the dropping of the green flag. Billy Womack was aboard for the first leg of the race and got away cleanly towards the first course marker. At the conclusion of the first 6.25 mile lap, Billy was solidly in fourth place and beginning to implement the team race strategy. Having both been past winners of this event, both Mike and Billy knew that you had to be around and running at the end of the race to win it. Racing all out at the beginning puts an enormous strain on both rider and craft and increases the possibility of mechanical failure. Another key factor in the teams winning strategy was to pit early and often, taking on only 11 gallons of fuel each time. This proved to be very beneficial as the race wore on because our fuel stops were very quick exchanges and only added one stop during the entire race.
As the rabbits took off, Billy and Mike focused on quick fuel stops and rider changes while keeping the boats that were ahead of them in sight, and passing for positions when the opportunity arose. By mid race, the team was solidly in second place as the early leaders dropped out. The water got rougher and a wind developed, but the team continued on with their race strategy and kept their steady pace and quick fuel stops. In the emotional closing laps of the race the team was not aware we were leading, and became very concerned that we would have enough fuel left to finish the race without stopping for a splash. As I got the white flag signifying the last lap. The low fuel warning beeper was going shrieking and all the corner workers were giving me a thumbs up sign as I went by. I continuously asked Mark for his intervention to help me get to the checkered, and he came through.
As if scripted by Mark himself, as I crossed the finish line to get the checkered flag, I looked to my right and there was Jan Hahn finishing the race right after me. It was the most emotional conclusion to an event of any kind that I have ever seen. Over 200 spectators that had gathered on the bluff overlooking the lake were going crazy cheering and yelling for all the competitors and their crews for finishing this monumental memorial for our friend Mark Hahn.
The awards banquet the evening after the race was an enormous success. It was bigger than most of the past year end awards banquets by any promoter with over 130 people in attendance. The food was superb, and the awards were the best ever seen by everyone. With trophies down to tenth place in the categories and overall, very few racers went home with less than two trophies. The contributions from all of the great sponsors in this sport ensured that there will never again be an awards ceremony where such a large quantity of free goods will be given away. Several special presentations were made to Sandy Hahn and her family who were in attendance in force.
It can truly be said that everyone will forever remember Mark Hahn and this great event!