It was in April of 2004 when regional long distance endurance racer, Mark Hahn passed away during an event in Parker, AZ. To commemorate the fellow racer and dear friend, Yamaha/R&D Racing’s Mike Follmer organized the first ever Mark Hahn Memorial Havasu 300 on the shores of Lake Havasu Island.
Only a couple dozen others joined Follmer that first year, a pale comparison of the 58 multi-person teams that showed for this year’s event, happening a decade later.
“Who would’ve thought where we’d be 10 years ago? This event has truly made a mark on the industry – it’s a world recognized event,” Follmer told The Watercraft Journal.
Over 14 nations were represented at this year’s Memorial 300, who lined the shoreline of the Crazy Horse Resort this past February 22nd. “Without our sponsors none of this would’ve been possible. That, and the racers. It’s very impressive how this has become a lifestyle event. Just to finish is an achievement.”
Although finishing the Hahn has its merit, the sport’s very best came from across the globe for a chance at glory, to win outright. Half of last year’s winning Pro Runabout team, 18-time IJSBA champion Chris MacClugage sought the impossible: winning both the Pro Runabout and Ski classes.
This feat would require an extraordinary amount of training, preparation and planning to coordinate how Macc would trade between a wickedly fast Yamaha FX SVHO and a Bullet Racing V2 standup featuring a Wideboy hull capped with a lightweight deck.
Sporting a Skat-Trak pump and impeller, and powered by a Limited SX-R 800 twin and ADA cylinder head, the crew manning the #3 Bullet included Aaron and Andrew Gewecke in addition to MacClugage.
The previous Ironman champion from 2012, Russell Marmon, opted to team up with Sylvain Ente. Similarly, last year’s UWP-IJSBA Watercross Tour Stock Class champion Eric Francis paired with Anya Colley, as Canada’s Amy Green joined Lake Havasu local, Eric Burton in the Veterans Class.
“We rode in memory of Myles Andreasen, a young local Havasu resident,” Green explained to The Watercraft Journal. “He passed away last year unexpectedly. So, we rode a Kawi Ultra with Myles’ #331 in his honor.”
Tony Beck, who worked alongside Andreasen at Walt’s Motorsports, also competed in the Veteran’s class with legendary racer Chris “The Fish” Fischetti.
Craig Warner, who won the Overall championship in 2009 with the complete Kawasaki Racing crew behind him, sought to clench not only the Overall win, but that of Pro Runabout and Ironman simultaneously.
The Hahn’s traditional Le Mans-style start poised the record number of racers along the pebbled shoreline. “Havasu had been pretty flat most of the last couple of months,” Amy Green said. Gentle 3-to-4mph winds did little to stir the still water, promising a very fast race. The standing record stood at 4 hours and 12 minutes (set by Warner). Whether it would remain was on everyone’s mind.
The sudden staccato crack of the starting pistol (a 12-guage shotgun) sent them sprinting to their waiting craft. France’s Jeremy Poret would explode from the lineup, distancing himself before Marmon and MacClugage’s wickedly fast Yamaha reeled in his Ultra.
MacClugage’s SVHO quickly devoured the course, greedily chewing up the 10-mile lap and put a 30-second lead on Monster Kawasaki’s Warner, who’s 310R whistled with the banshee cry of a high-spinning turbo.
For lap after consecutive lap, it was between the Yamaha and Kawasaki, with literally a minute’s cushion between them and the rest of the pack. In fact, it would be until MacClugage had completed nearly half of the 300 miles before he would hand over the lead to Warner due to a mechanical. Sadly, Macc’s SVHO wouldn’t be alone. The high speeds led to a gruesome attrition rate.
Newly relocated Kommander Industries Rockstar Energy racer Dustin Motzouris recalled, “[Because] the water was so smooth we had good top speed but our rev limiter was cutting out on the fuel map and this lost us a ton of time. We also ran out of fuel on [teammate Jared Moore]’s first run, so that set us back too.”
Green likewise underestimated the rate of fuel consumption, “Due to the conditions being so calm, the fuel consumption was at a faster rate than many planned for. There were a dozen boats towed back to the pits after running out of fuel on the track, much more than year’s prior.”
“We had an issue with the back pressure in the quick fill system, and fell a bit short on one of the fuel stops ourselves, so I found myself getting a tow back, too. That cost us quite a few laps and took us out of the 4th place overall position we had been running.”
With fuel being a major concern, Francis and Colley had a quick fill system installed to his ’13 300X by Steve Webster at Kommander Industries. Francis beamed, “We had zero issues and ran a solid race all day and everyone from the pit crew to the riders worked as a team and smoothly.”
By the twentieth lap nearly 35 skis out of the original 58 were still running. By the end, the numbers were even fewer. There were even two skis that only made a single lap, one of which being the legendary Tera Laho.
Unique to the Hahn is the pit stop. Each team is required to pull their craft completely out of the water to refuel, and spillage can result in disqualification. Quite literally, the race can be won or lost in the pits. PWCOffshore competitors Mark Gerner and KC Handler enjoyed the benefit from a pit crew who ran like clockwork, recording a near 30-second stop.
As the timer passed the speed record, it was up to Warner to keep his craft together long enough to turn his lead into a win. And at one minute and 24 seconds past 4 hours and 30 minutes, he did exactly that.
Elated, Warner stated, “I cannot explain how hard it is to get prepared for this race, and everything come together so well. I would like to thank my team for an outstanding performance in the pits and my mechanics setting this PWC up extremely well.”
MacClugage, whose Yamaha had been trailered earlier, joined his teammates to bring in their Monster Energy ski in for the win in Pro Ski Open.
Mark Clemons, who alongside John Carter, provided The Watercraft Journal with the awesome photography you see here, had this to say, “Mark Hahn was a personal friend of mine. I raced with him, and spent hours upon hours in his garage just talking racing. I was on the track with him the day he died. It was a tragic day. I lost one of my very best friends.”
But through Mark’s legacy and the friends who knew him in life as well as those who have come to know him, we have all gained new friends, grown together and come to call the Mark Hahn Memorial Havasu 300 one of the greatest traditions in our sport.