Sunday, February 19, 2017

Top Fuel Hydroplane drag boat

The Hedman Hedders booth at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show featured the Hedman-sponsored “Shockwave” Top Fuel Hydroplane drag boat driven by Tyler Speer who celebrated his 26th birthday just prior to Christmas.

Speer took an interesting career path; after a childhood racing motocross and go-karts, he graduated to late models then began racing an ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) stock car on the dirt one mile tracks as a 20 year old in 2010.  To date Tyler has run 11 dirt races with his best finishes in 2016 of seventh at both DuQuoin and Springfield which matched his career best from the 2012 season.

In previous years, the stock cars driven by the young man from Woodstock Georgia carried primary sponsorship from his father Jim’s ProBoat Inc. boat service shop, but this past year Speer drove a Chevrolet owned by Andy Hillenburg that carried sponsorship from the Lucas Oil Drag boat racing series.

In 2015, Tyler stepped into drag boat racing at the controls of the Amphibious Motorsports “Climax” Pro Modified boat. A “Pro Mod” powered by 500-cubic inch ‘hemi’ style engine on methanol in a hydro style hull with the single 11-inch diameter propeller driven through a v-drive. “Pro Mod” places a premium on driver ability as the goal is to race down the “liquid quarter mile” to the finish ahead of your competitor in 7 seconds without going under that barrier.

As a rookie in the 2015 Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing (LODBRS) Pro Modified series, Speer finished seventh in the national points standings. This past season, Speer won the LODBRS  Pro Modified World Championship in a tight points race which was only determined at the series’ ninth and final race at Wild Horse Motorsports Park near Phoenix Arizona.   

Also during 2016, Tyler Speer made his first appearance in the #131 Hedman-sponsored “Shockwave” Top Fuel Hydro owned by Robert Montgomery. Shockwave is a “outrigger” style Ellison hull powered by a 500-cubic inch supercharged engine that burns a mix nitromethane and methanol to produce an estimated 10,000 horsepower and uses Hedman Hedders. 

Lucas Top Fuel boats use a W-drive transmission mounted ahead of the backwards mounted engine which splits the engine’s power into two contra-rotating propellers which spin at up to 20,000 revolutions per minute (RPM) to drive the “Shockwave” boat from a standing start to over 255 miles per hour at the end of the 1000 foot course in 3 ½ seconds.  

A view inside the driver capsule of the Hedman Hedders “Shockwave” which is designed to break away and float in case of a crash, with the driver breathing from the air tank mounted on the floor of the capsule.   

In 2017, Tyler Speer plans to defend his LODBRS ‘Pro Mod’ title and hopes to run a full season in the Hedman “Shockwave” Top Fuel hydro as well as compete in the two ARCA dirt races. Hedman Hedders has been proudly making exhaust tube headers in the United States since the company was founded by Bob Hedman in 1954. Check them out at
All photos by the author

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