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  • Unity Flagstaff

U.S. A-Team takes 2nd Bronze in 2 years

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

Billy Allen and Mike Akerstrom again bring home a Bronze Medal for their country.

A full field of OSY 400s barrel down the backstretch in heat 1 of the World Championships

The members of the 2018 U.S. A-Team came from several different spots on the globe to meet in the quiet, remote town of Slesin, Poland for the OSY-400 Word Championship. This year’s drivers, Mike Akerstrom and Billy Allen were joined by videographer Valerie Lighthart, along with pit men Jimmy Cummings, Dudley Smith, Bob Cronin, and Racer Allen for the mid-summer event. The Americans arrived on Thursday with the Polish race organizers having already received their shipping container and storing it in a secure location just a few kilometers from the race site.

The team’s lodging for the week was a bit of a drive from the pits but a pleasant surprise as the picturesque campsites and cabins were tucked in a remote meadow of the sleepy Polish countryside. Upon arrival, team Eagle Scouts Mike Akerstrom, Dudley Smith and Jimmy Cummings busied themselves hanging American flags outside their cabins. Their campmates for the week were vacationing families from rural parts of Europe who spoke their native languages. With the help of their smartphones and translation apps, the members of the U.S. A-Team and the other campers were able to converse easily, speaking into their phones in their language, hitting a button, and letting the phone spit out the equivalent phrase in a different language. As friendships formed, the members of the different nations found common interests and on non-racing nights the Americans and Polish natives stayed up long into the night as the vodka was passed around the fire. Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny for the 11 AM time trials in the OSY-400 class. Each boat was allowed a 2-lap solitary pass on the long, thin, triangular three buoy course. After round one, relative newcomer Oliver Nilsson, in a boat owned by legendary Swedish racer Peter Skoogh, surprised the field with the fastest lap of the session with local favorite and defending World Silver Medalist Cezary Strumnik, of Lock Haven cooler bobbing fame in second and World Champion Rasmus Haugasmagi from Estonia in third. America’s Billy Allen held forth, Estonia’s Rene Suuk fifth, Slovakia’s Miroslav Bazinski sixth, Great Britain’s Wayne Moyse seventh and America’s Mike Akerstrom rounded out the top eight.

In round two, the positions changed as the fastest boats dueled for the best starting positions. When the second session ended Estonia’s Haugasmagi jumped to the pole with Nilsson second and Allen gained a spot to third. Strumnik dropped to fourth with Rene Suuk fifth, Bazinski sixth, Sweden’s Anton Dickfos seventh, Wayne Moyse Eighth, Akerstrom ninth, and Poland’s Gregorz Stephniak filled out the official top ten starting positions for heat one.

The teams then headed back to their tents in order to prepare for heat one of the world final.

At precisely four o’clock the red light expired and the fourteen finalists blazed off the starting jetty and shot down the long stretch in an all-out drag race to turn one. Not a lap had been completed before the red flag flew as Suuk and Dickfos crashed in turn one sending the boats back to the starting jetty for a quick re-fuel and a restart.

At the restart Haugasmagi went to the front with Strumnik hot on his tail. The two perennial medalists fought for all five laps with Haugasmagi edging the Pole to the line. Allen finished third with Bazinski in fourth and Nilsson, who’s engine didn’t fire on the start and subsequently started the heat dead last, finished in fifth. Heat two was a mirror image of heat one for the top 5.

Heat three was another tight contest between the Estonian Haugasmagi and Poland’s Strumnik, as Strumnik seemed to be the faster of the two. The Estonian’s unmatched speed off the starting jetty however, was just too much for the hard charging Polish driver to overcome. Several times it seemed that Strumnik had established enough position to make the pass for the lead but the Estonian had just enough top end speed to nip the pole at the end of the long straightaways and thus grab another gold Medal for his ballooning trophy case. Strumnik took another hard-fought Silver. With the first two positions locked down, heat four was a battle for the Bronze between Allen, Nilsson, and Bazinski.

In heat four Nilsson, now showcasing his obvious speed, went to the front with Allen second and Estonia’s Rene Suuk in third. The second-place finish was enough to give United States pilot Billy Allen his second Bronze Medal in as many years to complete the exact same top three finishing positions of the previous year’s race in Germany. The final positions following the Medalists were; Nilsson fourth, Bazinski fifth, Lithuania’s Gintaras Marcinkus sixth, Estonia’s Rene Suuk seventh, England’s Wayne Moyse eighth, America’s Akerstrom ninth, Lithuania’s Arvydas Dranseika tenth, Poland’s Grzegorz Stepniak eleventh, Sweden’s Anton Dickfos twelfth and Tomas Jirkovec from The Czech Republic rounding out the field of finalists.

The team would like to give special thanks to Bruning International for a seamless shipping experience, the APBA Historical Society for their continued and enthusiastic support, sponsors PCS Performance, Prop Shop LTD, and the American Legion Nickerson Post for all their support in making this program possible. The U.S. A-Team would also like to recognize and applaud the efforts of Wisconsin’s Team Nydal on their Silver medal finish at the 350 World Championship in Italy. Unity Flagstaff Reporting

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