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  • The PROP RIDER'S Race Team II

    The Prop Riders was a combination of the Bosnich’s, Todd Brinkman, and Kay Harrison back in 2004 as those two stepped away, but the Bosnich’s kept the name and went on their own. Todd was an invaluable resource of help, guidance, and butt chewing. Hmm, is that the Todd we all know and love, why yes, it is and his many National Championships give him the right, and the ability to know what it takes to be a champion.

    As I indicated, Paulie winning a National in front of home town folks has to be a thrill and an adrenaline rush that would be tough to compare. His Uncle Mitch knows that feeling, while the late Rod Walk would also have known that feeling as well. So as you can imagine, DePue is Paulie’s favorite race course. His comment was that although Lake Depue was not as tricky as say Constantine, but, hey, it’s the Nationals, and that in and of itself is enough to know that the monkey wrenches are ready and willingly to be deployed. Paulie reminded me with his comment of the excitement building as the drivers hit town with their trailers full of boats and motors. I remember as a kid, running down to the lake on the Saturday before the weekend of racing to come and just hope that there were drivers there to test over the weekend, go home to their jobs and come back on Thursday to prepare for one heat elimination heats, with over 600 entries. In some cases, it took the fastest 2nd or 3rd to get into the finals. Those were some days my friend, so I have a little understanding of what Paulie is talking about. As Paulie said, the best equipment, the best drivers show up and the race is on. Joseph loves DePue as his home track as well and looks forward to a National championship won on Lake Depue. For Rex Bayer, his favorite is just down the street in Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin as he won his very first race in the K-Pro division there and his mentor Mark Stahl got to do the time-honored dunking of the first-time winner by throwing him out in the water. BTW, Rex drove the same boat that Joseph won his first race in as well and turnabout is fair play as Rex was the one who threw Joseph in for the triumphant bath. Ethan Fox’s racecourse also happens to be DePue, loves the race course, but loves the camaraderie during and after the races with the great crowds drawn to DePue for the great water, racing, and the best sponsor on the earth, The Depue Men’s Club.

    We all know that this is a great family sport, and it can be a wonderful time with family and friends like none other. I remember when living in California, a friend I talked a friend into coming back to Depue and for about 10 years in a row, all I had to say was DePue and his bag was packed. What blew him away about DePue were, the friendliness of the huge crowds, the number of boats that showed up to race, but what he would talk about incessantly was how the teams helped one another, especially when one driver could not get started, a group of 2 or 3 other team folks came running over to help. He could not get over the fact that they were trying to send a guy out to the water that could beat their guy. He loved that about boat racing, and as Paulie said, the family aspect is what brings you back time and time again. Paul’s two sons are watching Dad win championships and who knows what K-Pro boat is out there for Rayce when old enough. Right now Rayce is content racing a go-Kart and doing well in that endeavor. Jake Quesse says he never really thought about racing, but took a ride and as they say, he was hooked. He enjoys the run in the boat as a kick, but the fierce competition and awesome people are what brings him back. For young Joseph, it is the travel and the friendships he has developed amongst his K-Pro competitors and others. Rex says that the whole boat racing society is like one big family, everyone helps everyone out, and when the races are over, the fun begins no matter what happens on the racecourse. For Ethan, it is a wonderful time to spend with his Dad as the best part, plus everyone on the racecourse are helpmates as well.

    Well, how did this great family get started racing. I think for Paul, he recognized the family spotlight being full on as a way to grow your family closer as he and young Paul watched Uncle Mitch race and win the championship and they got caught up in this great sport. When he turned 11, Todd Brinkman and Bill Van Steenwyk got together and put a rig to put Paul in and the rest as they say is history. Paul ran both 125H and 125R for a while. I remember over at Dayton though; I think Paul’s hydro days came to a flipping halt. On the backstretch that blue and white Krier was asking the tower for takeoff clearance and up and over he went. Injured his shoulder badly and that’s tough on a guy who has a physical job on the ramp for Southwest.
    Jake Quesse got a late start in boat racing, LOL, he did not get on the water until 14 in a K-Pro after having been “around” racing having grown up in DePue. He was given the opportunity to run that K-Pro from Big Pal and talked to his Mom. As he said, she “re-directed” him to Pop and he said go for it and off Jake went with the K-Pro outgrown, turned first to a 125H and now up to the competitive 250H. Joe is a family cousin and when the K-Pro boat became open, Joe jumped at the chance and as I indicated he has his first win under his belt. Rex went to a few races as a tyke and then got busy in the summers and was not attending many races, but in the summer of 2015, Mark Stahl said if I wanted to try he would find a boat for me. He was able to find one and after a ride, no way was I coming out of it. There is a rush and thrill going fast across the water that is indescribable and fun. For Ethan, he went to a race where his Uncle Paulie was running, got to spend time with family, said he talked to other racers and knew he had to try. Asked Mom and the next day found himself in a hydro.

    Each of the Prop Riders have their favorite classes with Paulie’s being 250R ever since he was a kid. As he said, there are no slouches in that class with the late great Tim Small at the top of the list, along with the Krier Bros. In the 350R class you have to add in the name of Brian Payn. For Jake, since moving to 250H he said he has struggled to find speed to be competitive but is beginning to see improvements. His toughest competitors are Amy and Kurtis Nydahl and any time they are on the water, you have your hands full. For Rex, he says watching 10 or so 250H at over 100mph headed for the first turn is amazing. For Joseph, it is Chase McKean, Cooper Thompson, and Brandon Payn, competitors, yes, but friends off the course. For Rex, his toughest are Brianna Payn and McKenzie Hellsten as these two young ladies with great pedigree are great racers. Ethan says that of all those he’s raced against, young Brady Brinkman ranks up there as a competitor, but most of all as a friend.

    A side bar to the Prop Riders is the Huff and Puff team which is an affiliate with Jake Hoffert and Gary Merkel doing the driving. Jake started off in a boat that they literally tore apart to safely put it on the water. Jake drives in the 500 and 1100 capsule boats and what a way to get your feet wet in boat racing in some of the fastest boats in the world. But Jake prevailed and took home the 500H class a couple of years ago much to the joy of Depue and the fans. Danny his Dad made a beeline to the beach to celebrate with him. Jake has new power now for that capsule and we look forward to seeing him competitive this coming year. Jake says of course his favorite race

    A part of this is a young man named Gary Merkel who started out in the 250H class which is favorite class and then joined the fun when they purchased another capsule and Gary slid into the driver’s seat with that one. He had a literal baptism by fire as he went upside down at Constantine in the capsule, but everything turned good as the training of getting out of an upside-down capsule kicked in. Gary’s favorite racecourse is up at Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin on a beautiful oval racecourse in the southern part of Wisconsin. Gary said the adrenaline rush and competition are his favorite things of racing and enjoys competing against Vinny Buskirk a bunch.

    Again, you cannot do boat racing by yourself and up step the Harman Family with Jim and Matt, along with Elmer as all stepping up to help the whole Depue Contingent.

    As I close this, I would be remiss in not giving a huge shoutout to Paulie Bosnich for implementing the drivers school at our last Nationals at Depue. Scott Floyd a grad of the school has now joined the Title Series on the water with the Chance team. Congrats to Paulie with a huge step up by Gary Merkel donating his equipment for the group that was in the school and we expect at least one other to join the racing as well as another school when we can return to Depue.

    My thanks to Abbi Bosnich for helping get the information together and staying on top of it. Also it is Big Pal’s birthday this coming Saturday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY FRIEND. MAY YOU ENJOY THE HAPPIEST OF ALL BIRTHDAYS.


    One of the things we need to do here to say thanks for all the hard work that Paulie and crew put into the Drivers school, with a special Kudo to Gary Merkel who loaned his equipment to make it a total success. Scott Floyd is a graduate of the program and was racing all last year with the Chance team. Congrats Scott and welcome aboard. I am sure I missed someone but no doubt it was a success thanks Paul and the Prop Ride