With the turning of the calendar page to September and the gradual shift from the heat and humidity of summer to cooler, more Fall-like weather, this time of year provides the opportunity for records-abound for racers all across the vast spectrum of the sport, and for the competitors of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series, the mild, dry air of San Diego provided just that setting during last weekend’s LODBRS Fall Classic and the San Diego BayFair on Mission Bay.
Reigning Top Fuel Hydroplane champion Daryl Ehrlich, one of the few pilots in the world with the fortitude to strap into one of these 7,000 horsepower monsters, already held both ends of the world record for nitro-fueled boats at 3.396 seconds and 258.26 mph over the 1000-foot race distance. Ehrlich and the Eddie Knox-owned Problem Child Top Fuel team, however, took advantage of the water and atmospheric conditions in San Diego and reeled off the quickest elapsed time in the 1000-foot era with a stunning 3.368 at 253.46 mph in qualifying, and then nearly backed up the record-breaking performance with a 3.414 at an even faster 255.36 mph in the opening round of eliminations. Ehrlich needed a lap of 3.401 -seconds to achieve the necessary backup.
The only other boat in the field to come close to the Red Line Oil-backed Problem Child hydro was the Speed Sport Special driven by Jarrett Silvey, which ran 3.66 at a slowing 217 mph in the first round and took an easy victory in the final over Ehrlich when the Problem Child broke early into the run. There was a victory outside of the BayFair for the Eddie Knox team, however, as the 100 points earned for the No. 1 qualifying slot all but wrapped up the 2012 Top Fuel Hydro championship for Ehrlich and company. The Problem Child only has to qualify at the World Finals in Phoenix in November to officially score a second straight title.