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home : sports : sports   July 27, 2016

7/26/2014 1:15:00 AM
Lake DePue PRO National Championships: Wild start


J.J. Walls Jr. bails out of his C Racing Hydroplane boat Friday during the first heat at the Lake DePue Pro National Championship Boat Races. Walls was not seriously injured. Walls also had an engine die in the 125cc Runabout and won a national title in the C Service Runabout.NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
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J.J. Walls Jr. bails out of his C Racing Hydroplane boat Friday during the first heat at the Lake DePue Pro National Championship Boat Races. Walls was not seriously injured. Walls also had an engine die in the 125cc Runabout and won a national title in the C Service Runabout.
NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Todd Anderson in No. 16, Tara Cook in the W-71 and Braxton Miller in the yellow 35-O race into the first turn Friday in a heat of the OSY-400 class at the DePue Boat races. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
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Todd Anderson in No. 16, Tara Cook in the W-71 and Braxton Miller in the yellow 35-O race into the first turn Friday in a heat of the OSY-400 class at the DePue Boat races.
NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Jared Bell
NewsTribune Sports Writer



DEPUE — J.J. Walls Jr. experienced a little of everything Friday.

On a wet and windy opening day of the Lake DePue PRO National Championships, the Danville, Ind., native was ejected from his boat in the first heat of the C Racing Hydro, had his engine die during the final heat of the 125cc Runabout when all he needed to do was finish the heat to win a national title and then rolled to two first-place heat finishes to cruise to a national title in the C Service Runabout.

“After the blow over (in the C Racing Hydro) and not getting hurt, it’s always a success,” Walls Jr. said. “But anytime you win a national title, it’s always a successful day. Especially in racing, you’ve got to look at the positive or else racing would be a really hard hobby to be in.”

Friday kept the 24-year-old guessing all the way.

The defending national champion in the C Racing Hydro, Walls Jr.’s quest to repeat never really got started.

In the race’s first heat, gutsy early-day winds caused Walls Jr. to have an accident as he was ejected from his boat, which flipped over but landed right-side up.
Luckily, he left the crash with only minor bumps and bruises but — after nearly an hour-plus weather delay — Walls Jr. did not compete in the second heat.

The crash didn’t have much impact in the 125cc Runabout.

Competing in the V99 boat formerly run by DePue racer Paul Bosnich III, Walls Jr. won the first heat and placed second in the second heat behind Travis Ellison from Fayetteville , N.C.

Needing just to finish the third heat to claim a national title, Walls Jr. overcame a slow start and raced to the lead, but at the beginning of the second lap in the four-lap race his engine died, allowing Ellison to race to the win and edge Walls Jr. for the national title.

“It’s very painful, but that boat is the hometown boat and even having the chance to drive it was the best experience,” Walls Jr. said of the V99 boat. “In the last heat, I had the best start of the three heats, had the lead and the motor just shut off (on the first lap), but as the motor was coasting to a stop it kicked back on and started running again. However, going down the back stretch to the bottom corner it shut off again and it just died.

“It was a frustrating day, but it’s just a part of racing. The unexpected always happens and it’s like, ‘If it can happen, it will.’ You just never know, and every race is a guess.”

Walls Jr.’s bad luck allowed for a bit of redemption for Ellison, who was running well in the first heat of the 125cc Runabout but spun out after his steering cable broke.
He battled back, however, to win back-to-back heats to claim his first national title.
“After I didn’t finish the first heat, I definitely thought I had lost a chance at a national championship and I thought that second place was the best that we could pull out,” said Ellison, who is a to-be college freshman. “With racing, it takes a lot of luck to win a title so when I saw him go down it was a moment of joy, but I knew I still had to finish.”

After his two bad breaks, Walls Jr. rebounded to win both heats of the C Service Runabout to claim the national title, the 14th of his 10-year racing career.

Ellison and Walls Jr. won two of the seven national championships awarded on Friday.

Andrew Thirlby from Interlochen, Mich., claimed his second career national title as he won the 700cc Runabout over a field that included his father and former multi-time national champion Mike Thirlby, who finished third.

“I absolutely wanted to beat my dad, no doubt about it,” the 19-year-old Thirlby joked. “This title means so much coming from Thirlby racing. My dad and Eddie and all of them have won so many, so this is just unbelievable.”

Jackson Hall from DeKalb, Md., won all three heats to claim the K-PRO Hydro, while Braxton Miller from Grove, Okla., won the OSY-400.

Kyle Deptula from Springboro, Ohio, won the C Racing Hydro title, while Tom Adkins from Fernandina Beach, Fla., won the 500cc Hydro.

Notes: Friday’s racing saw three separate weather delays due to wind. In all, the races were delayed nearly two hours, including an approximate one hour wind delay in the third stoppage. … Racing resumes at noon today and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. … DePue’s Paul Bosnich III will race in the 250cc Runabout today and the 350cc Runabout on Sunday. His cousin Jake Quesse, a to-be senior at St. Bede, will compete in the 175cc Hydro today and the 125cc Hydro Sunday. … Ladd’s Steve Niesen did not place in Friday’s C Service Runabout, but he will also race in today’s 175cc Hydro and Sunday’s 125cc Hydro.












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