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Published: Thursday, 8/12/2004

White eager for first race in front of home fans

BY SHIRLEY LEVY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Dave White got hooked on boats at an early age - literally.

"It all started with a plastic rowboat on the Maumee River when I was 4 years old," he says. "My parents used to tie me up to the back of their boat and I rowed all day.

"In the early 80s, I decided that one day this is what I was going to do."

This weekend, the Monclova Township resident will compete in the SST-120 class at the Toledo River Roar. He will be churning up the river in a new Seebold outboard with a 235 horsepower engine capable of achieving more than 115 miles per hour

His boat is No. 60 - a real neon standout with a Corvette-yellow hull and black trim. The engine is set back about 14 inches from the transom.

"Wow, racing in downtown Toledo," White enthused at a news conference earlier this summer. "I can't wait and the fellow drivers I've talked to are thrilled to have Toledo on the schedule. It's good for all of us who compete and it's good for Toledo."

The River Roar will be the first chance hometown fans have had to see White race. The last time tunnel boats raced in Toledo was 23 years ago.

"Those who have never seen tunnel boat racing are in for a real thrill," he said. It's close racing, exciting and a terrific show."

White, 47, is in the construction business. Other than that, powerboat racing is his life.

In his spare time - what there is of it - he collects antique racing motors and his shop in a pole barn at the rear of his house is filled with powerboat memorabilia.

White has been racing in the SST-120 class for 11 years. He stands 13th in the nation in the 2004 SST-120 series, with 787 points. His best finish was ninth at Bay City. The previous week, his boat broke down in the race at Saulte St. Marie, Mich.

"And I love the camaraderie . . . we compete against each other every week and after the awards, we're all friends in the end."

"I love the entire sport," he said. "I love the speed and precision of the boat itself, the equipment itself, and the technology involved in making a boat perform. It's absolutely amazing.

"The boat had been riding pretty rough and we had some engine problems,'' he said. "We had to send some props back."

"We've got new props now and the engine has been totally rebuilt. We're going to give Toledo our best shot."

"It's a never-ending battle, trying to get a few seconds of lap time," he said. "For an SST-120, a lap should be about 40 seconds; for a Champ Boat, between 31 and 32."

Driving a bone-jarring race boat requires a tremendous amount of stamina and upper-body strength. It also demands a totally focused mind.

"You've got to concentrate and stay in there continuously and never back off," White said. "You never get used to it. You've got to be a self-starter and prepare yourself - get yourself up for every race."

He works out in a gym every day and relies on Scott Spencer, his physical trainer and radioman, to keep him in shape.

He also has lots of support from his family - his wife Diane and daughters Rachel, 24, and Kiely, 16.

"They make sure we have plenty of food and that all the uniforms are there. Everything I use - from water to aspirin - Diane makes sure they are packed in the trailer," he said.

"Kiely has been around race boats since she was 5 or 6 years old. She can tear a motor apart and put it together with the best of them."

The new boat has opened up exciting opportunities and White has been working hard to achieve his goal of finishing in the top five.

He and his crew spent the week fine-tuning the boat, checking out different motor heads and props. Yesterday, they were setting up in the pit area at the Sports Arena parking lot.

"Tell all the fans not to hesitate to visit us in the pits," White said. " Everyone here is approachable. They can take pictures and talk to the crew."

Contact Shirley Levy at:

slevy@theblade.com.



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