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Thread: The Kirts Family

  1. #11
    BoatRacingFacts VIP racingfan1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wboxell View Post
    At the nationals in Hinton in 77 I didn't qualify for the finals. I had a new B boat and kind of wanted to see it run with somebody in it that could drive. It was decided somehow (beer was involved for sure) that Jerry would run my boat with his motor in the finals. The years have wiped out most of my memory on the race itself, but what i do remember was Danny. He came over watching as we rigged to boat. Then he would go over and stare at his boat. He would lift the nose of my boat, then the nose of his. Then I look around and Dannys standing there with the bow handles from his removed, in his hands, and says "every little bit helps" He knew he had Jerry covered in Jerrys boat, but now he wasn't sure.

    As it turned out, he still had Jerry covered, but it sure was fun watching that day, and I agree "they would rather beat each other than anyone else" bill
    Some things never change. Just this past weekend at the USTS race in Springfield IL I saw Danny closely inspecting this setup Derek Gessler has on his 4 pipe 500cc motor. Even in his 70's he still takes it all in.
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  2. #12
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    Default Still going strong.

    The Kirts family still races on today with Dan, white boat , and son Jim driving the capsule hydro classes and Tom jr in the 500cc runabout class.
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    Team Member Master Oil Racing Team's Avatar
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    Thanks for the pictures and info Dale. Bill....I thought Jerry was gone but I wasn't sure. Had lots of fond memories on the water and in the pits with those guys.



  4. #14
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    Default Jerry

    Quote Originally Posted by Master Oil Racing Team View Post
    Thanks for the pictures and info Dale. Bill....I thought Jerry was gone but I wasn't sure. Had lots of fond memories on the water and in the pits with those guys.
    This picture was taken at the Pleasent Prairie WI race in September of 2016. After Jerry had passed away Dan used his H-1 in place of his normal H-4 to honor his brother for this one race.
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  5. #15
    Team Member ProHydroRacer's Avatar
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    The "Kirts" are the hardest driving drivers I ever saw. Living in the mid-west, nearly every local race I went to was like going to the Nationals, because of those drivers. My hat is off to them.

  6. #16
    Team Member Master Oil Racing Team's Avatar
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    I raced against all the Kirts except Tom. Some I won...some I lost. Many times I raced against two or three at a time. They were always hard fought races, and they never give up as long as their motor is running and the boat is not sinking or flipped. Mel cost me a 700 hydro National Championship in Hinton in 1977. He didn't do it on purpose and with all the spray, judges could not see him run over me. And I didn't protest. It was just racing.

    You remember how the way the milling and safety bouy caused boats to funnel in toward the start? I had won the first heat and had the fastest time of the event. The second heat I started again on the inside and all the boats came together at the start, but fortunately not full throttle. That would have been a disaster. There was so much spray that after I passed the first pin, I drove inside the course to stay out of it. We were probably only going only about forty or fifty miles per hour so I turned to the right to pass outside the middle bouy to stay legal, then started looking for the exit bouy. Mel was in the center of the pack. There were two or three boats a little ahead of me to the right, then I saw a hole and light. I had threaded my way around for an opening and clamped down the throttle to break through. That Butts hydro Shadowfax could really accelerate with that Marshall Grant D on it. Mel had seen the same opening as I did and he also opened up his throttle. His Byers ran into my Butts and lifted my right sponson off the water. When he did that, the whole right side of my boat was on his deck and the corner, or something on my right sponson punctured his left forearm. Mel did not back off one second. He kept the hammer down. I tried to steer away from him, but my lower unit was out of the water and I could only control my throttle. My boat did not come loose either. He pulled me the rest of the way around the corner to the hole we saw, and he cut very close to the exit bouy. In fact, he came so close he rammed my hydro into it and that's what pulled me off. My motor died with all that.

    Mel did not even slow down. He continued to race, although I don't recall how he finished. When he came into the pits his whole deck and cockpit from the throttle back was covered in blood. When I asked him about it later, he said he didn't see me. He was driving blind and just dove to the left in the turn to find an opening. When he broke through the spray, he happened to come out looking at the same hole I did and went for it. We always remained friends and I just wrote it off as another hard fought battle with the Kirts'.


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  7. #17
    Team Member Master Oil Racing Team's Avatar
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    At that same Pro Nationals at Hinton, West Virginia in 1977 Tom Kirts blew his brand new out of the box DeSilva runabout over at the start of 700 runabout. There was nothing left of it but pieces. While testing his 500 hydro on Sunday Jerry Kirts dropped a sponson in a hole at about 90 mph. It did an instant barrel roll and the first thing hitting the water was his helmet. It was ripped off and Jerry had to take a trip to the hospital to be checked out. Since it wasn't during a race, Referee Charlotte Queen said he could race if his pit crew thought he was OK. What do you think that ruling was? Jerry won the first heat while Dan flipped trying to catch him. On the way to the first turn my throttle stuck wide open (only time that ever happened except when I got a loop around my life jacket hung up in the throttle) and had to kill the engine. Dan won the second heat with Jerry finishing second and won the championship. I'm not sure when THIS happened, but at some point Jerry got his shoulder dislocated and Mary Kirts took him behind the trailers while Mel and maybe pit crew held on to him while Mary pulled on his arm to get it back in the socket.

    Also at that race Joe Michelini fired Tim Butts from driving his V8 Butts hydro because Tim refused to drive it with a 1000cc Yamato Jim Mckean had brought to run in 1100 Hydro. It was two 500cc Yamatos stacked one on top of the other. Tim said it was too top heavy and dangerous. Tim had one the UIM OD World Championship for Joe driving his V8 Butts the month before at Dayton, Ohio. Dan Kirts said he would drive it. The coupling between the two powerheads broke about the time Dan broke the hull over.

    And finally, if I don't think of something else....this is a story Mel told me and my Dad Baldy and Joe Rome after Saturday's events were over. They were pitted about four slots down from our left. Mel said "Two guys came up to me and said they came down here to watch the fights and gol durn...all you guys do is help each other out!" Those are just some of the kind of things you might see at a race where the Kirts' were like Bill talked about.



  8. #18
    Team Member Master Oil Racing Team's Avatar
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    I am visiting in the pits with my good friends Mel on the left and Jerry on the right in 1975. I missed most of the season from a very bad wreck, but was able to make races while Tim Butts and Charlie Bailey drove our rigs. So I got a lot of good pictures of the Kirts racing family while I was confined to the pits during most of that year.
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