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Mini hydros hit the water Aug. 12-13

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And they're off! Two remote-controlled hydroplane miniatures take off from the starting line during a race in Ellensburg on July 9. One of the biggest races in the Oh Boy! Oberto Championship series-the Silver Cup-will be held in Granger Aug. 12-13. The boats pictured are owned by the father/son duo of Chet and Brian Lepinski. Chet's is the one at right and Brian's hydroplane replica is at left.

GRANGER - An estimated 30 hydroplanes will hit the water at Granger's Hisey Park Aug. 12-13.

No, you won't see Miss Budweiser, but you may see a four-foot miniature replica of the hydro legend during R/C Unlimiteds Silver Cup competition at Hisey Park.

Founded in 1974, R/C Unlimited has 85 club members from around the Northwest who compete in the Oh Boy! Oberto Championship Series of 14 races featuring remote-controlled replicas of hydroplanes.

The goal is to celebrate unlimited hydroplanes by constructing replicas of classic hydro boats that are one-eighth of the size of the original.

Detail is everything, even to the point that the driver figurine in the cockpit of the remote-controlled boat must wear the same color schemes as the real hydro driver.

"We duplicate the unlimiteds as much as possible," said Chet Lepinski of Richland, an RC Unlimited board member. whose boat is modeled after the 1979 U-3 Miss Tri-Cities. Lepinski said the eye for detail includes coloring his boat driver's eyes blue.

The boats may be replicas, but they have speed to burn. Boosted with nitro fuel that costs $31 a gallon, the mini-hydros can skim the surface of the water at 60 miles per hour.

This will be RC Unlimited's first race in the Lower Valley, Lepinski said. The Silver Cup to be presented at Granger is the club's second longest running trophy. "This is one of the three big races that we have each year," he said.

The boats will set up Saturday at Hisey Park on Saturday, Aug. 12, with testing to run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday, Lepinski said, will probably be the best opportunity for the community to get acquainted with the boats and their owners.

"On Saturday the pit area is open all day," Lepinski said. "People can come down and talk to us, it's a real good day to talk to the drivers."

Racing begins Sunday morning with a driver's meeting at 10:30 a.m., followed by the first heat. Lepinski estimates racing will take place until 2 or 3 p.m. Sunday.

The boat racing pits will be closed to the public on race day, he said. Both the testing and racing events are free to the public.

Not all the action will be happening in the water on Sunday, Aug. 13, as Hisey Park will be the site for the third annual Washington State Menudo Cook-Off Championship. The top prize winner in the contest, which features a soup made with tripe, will take home $300.

For more on the RC Unlimited club, or the race in Granger, visit www.rcunlimiteds.org. For more on the Menudo soup contest call the Granger Chamber of Commerce at 509-854-2448.

"We're excited about coming to Granger," Lepinski said. "There's a great viewing area on the hill for people to watch the races."



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