Edmonds resident injured as hydroplane flips in final race of season

It was a string of bad luck for Edmonds-based hydros and drivers as the unlimited hydroplane season ended this past weekend in San Diego. Edmonds resident Kelly Stocklin, driving The Bucket List Racing, was injured when his boat blew over backward in excess of 170 MPH. And Edmonds’ own Miss Peters and May had difficulties with the salt water affecting the turbine engine. Driver Tom Thompson finished every heat, but just couldn’t produce the speed necessary to be one of the top competitors.

Kelly Stocklin
Kelly Stocklin

Stocklin’s boat landed right side up but was badly damaged. The jolt severely wrenched Stocklin’s back and he spent the night in a San Diego hospital. He suffered three cracked vertebrae as well as soft tissue damage. He is in a back brace as he comes home to Edmonds, where he will face occupational and physical therapy in the immediate future.

The Jimmy Shane-driven Oberto hydro, in its last season under that sponsorship, ended the season with a clean sweep —  fastest qualifier, winner of every heat and the season championship. Second place went to the Miss 811Dig boat, driven by Scott Liddycoat and third was the Dalton Industries and driver Cal Phipps.

The Oberto’s main challenger, J. Michael Kelly and the Graham Trucking, had a difficult week. The boat was sideswiped at a truck stop on the way to San Diego, causing damage to the rear of the boat. This was repaired at the race site; however, the repair did not hold with the boat slamming across the water at speeds in excess of 175 MPH and it had to be repaired again after the first day of racing.

Stocklin has had a difficult year with engine gremlins hurting performance. The boat has a smaller engine than the other hydroplanes, in an effort to make the sport more affordable for people and teams to enter. After a season of frustrating performances, Stocklin finally found the correct combination and had his hydroplane running more than 17 MPH faster than his previous times. Stocklin spoke with My Edmonds News while on the road just north of Stockton, as he and his wife searched for smooth roadway on their return to their Edmonds home.

Stocklin flies high  in San Diego. (Photo Courtesy H1 Unlimited)
Stocklin flies high in San Diego. (Photo Courtesy H1 Unlimited)

He said he will take the next several weeks to evaluate his and his boat’s conditions before finalizing plans for 2015. At age 64, he has achieved one of his “bucket list’ items (hence the name of his boat) but loves the sport of hydroplanes. He said he may wish to continue by giving some new person an opportunity to get into the sport by driving his boat next year.

All of the hydroplanes now have the next six months off to repair equipment, search for new sponsors and get some rest.

— By Harry Gatjens

  1. Would love to see the 18 developed to its full potential, thankful that Mr Stocklin is on the road to Edmonds and recovery.

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