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USTS Profile on Derek Gesler and Gesler Metal Works part 2

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  • USTS Profile on Derek Gesler and Gesler Metal Works part 2

    Now how does a guy get involved in boat racing? As I said earlier, Derek’s father Brad was racing 1100R and Derek fell in love with racing. His first class was J Runabout at the age of 9 in 1995 and it did not take him long to put his name in the record book. At the age of 11, he set a UIM record at the famous fast water of Parker, Az on the Colorado River. That same year, he was the National High Point Champion, as well. He set 3 records at the Yelm record runs, only to have them disqualified when a small engine repair shop made an error in milling, that had to have stung.

    Much like his bride Amy, he started in J hydro/Run in the stock division and went up from there in bigger boats and way, way more speed. Today, Derek concentrates on the big runabout classes of 500-700-1100R in the Title Series and the 850R in the Mod division. Nothing more pleasing to the ears of old timer’s to hear Derek fire up that 6 and play the opera for us old-timers.

    His favorite class as you might guess is the 1100R class as this is what he really cut his teeth on in boat racing watching his Father and all those heroes of 1100R west coast guys. Many 1100R races had full fields at Shadow Cliffs and putting 8 or 10 on Lodi and Sparks was a sight to behold.

    Derek’s toughest competitor in the 1100R class, hands down was Terry Klemm; but he could never rule out Michael Thirlby. The “Duck” set the standard for 1100R for a number of years and won at Depue as well. Derek rode deck for him in 2005 and set the world record at 105.5 MPH. It was a hell of a run at Oroville, California Reservoir Forebay. Terry set a standard of performance and drive that set the standard that Derek wanted to emulate.

    I asked Derek to name his favorite race and city to race in and as many of our USTS drivers answer with Depue.
    Asked why and Derek responded, It is the “Big Show,” and indeed it is. I look forward to drivers in the Mod divisions of both APBA and NBRA coming to Depue in 2022 to the “Mega Nationals” with the Pro Division and along with the Title Series sponsored by the best on the planet, the Depue Men’s Club putting the logistics of the venue together. If you have not been to Depue as Derek points out the spectators who line the shoreline, 10-15 deep, vendors, number of entries, and the overall atmosphere of the most knowledgeable fans and plenty of them, and as Derek says, “It is the best!”

    Interesting, as I asked for his least favorite and spoken like the true racer he is, he didn’t have one; but, enjoyed any and all races he has been to. Even with all the work at the home shop of GMS, Derek still supports 5-7 races a year with both the USTS and the folks in the MOD division of NBRA.

    Earlier we laid out how the start of his career came about and as he matured and his driving and mechanical abilities were honed, Derek began to assert himself at the top of the heap. In 2003 and 2005 Terry and Derek won the title in 1100 Runabout Pro National’s. Derek rode with Terry Klemm in 2005, they set a mile competition record at Yelm,Wa and a kilo record in Oroville. (Side note when duck and I broke the kilo record, it was quite a big deal in region 11 as it had stood since 1983 set by KC and Freddie Nishizaki, which was 102.7 set with the Stevens 6 merc at Modesto reservoir. Klemm and I broke it at 105.5)
    Derek then won the 1100R in 2011 and 2013. He backed it up in 2014 with Amy riding deck. 2015 and 16 respectively, he won the 500R and then the 700R, so he is no slouch no matter the class in the Pro/USTS divisions.
    He also won in the FER class at the 2007 Mod Winter Nationals as well as the 2019 Long course Super E Mod Nationals in NBRA as well as setting the record for the class with a 3 mile record. The trophy case is indeed remarkable and full, but room to build more shelves.

    One of his most memorable races was when he won the 500R class in 2015, after having campaigned in the class for 10 years, he put it all together and took the title home.
    A great memory for Derek was setting a kilo record in 2015 as he said, once you felt like it all came together, he set a kilo record with a nickel’s worth of testing, it was drop the engine on the boat and go. That is a priceless feeling to be able to rely on the homework you’ve done previously and trust it to work, it did.

    I asked him about a race he wished he had back, and he talked about 2008/09 as kind of heart break time. He had won the first heat and in the second heat came up and he blew the gears in the lower unit in both years, only to come back and win the third heat both years. Could only think, what if, but that is the beauty of 3 heats in the pro division. We, in fact, have seen drivers win two heats and still take the title; but alas, that was not the case for Derek. I asked Derek what he learned from it: He answered, I learned that I needed to have the Lady of the Lake on my side. How true a statement that is. I have watched titles slip away from drivers over the years because the Lady was not smiling.
    As I indicated earlier, Derek is now the owner operator of Gesler Metal Works and is working out of his shop at home in Minnesota. It has evolved over time untiI he was able to leave the civil engineering position and go full time in the shop. As he said, he began building boats in 1999 at the age of 14. Starting small with parts and pieces for racing and building and repairing boats for other drivers and building Runabouts for himself and a hydro that Marty Thayer went on to win the 850MH and Brian Palmquist who won the 750MH with Derek’s motor work.
    Derek has expanded his business greatly since it started a few years ago and is currently make water jacket covers, side plates, complete 44 exhaust systems , carburetor tops, rope plates, and expansion chambers.
    He has expanded his base from manufacturing and boat building to now doing machining. He is doing honing, rod honing, porting, exhaust pipes and headers, boat building and repair with a CNC router (we even make wood boat kits), custom work and modifications with our CNC Haas machining. When a driver finds a need we work to keep them racing.

    You can check out much of his work on the GMS FB page and get a real good idea of what this magician is capable of.
    So, join with me in congratulating Derek for all he does for us as racers and the work he does with the USTS, thank you very much Derek and many more years of fun, a profitable business, and many more championships

  • #2
    Awsome read. Thank you
    Sean Byrne