To finish first, you must first finish - This is the advice I used to get every weekend before I rolled up to the start gate of the local motocross track for my first moto of the day. For most racers, if they think back, they can usually trace the path that led them into their chosen form of vehicular competition. Typically this path of financial destruction is forged at the whim of one person. If other racers are like me, the person leading them down that path is their dad. Racing, regardless of kind, is far and wide a family affair. For decades fathers have been passing the torch, or possibly the addiction, down to their sons who, in turn, have sons of their own who they inevitably pass the torch to as well.

Such was the case with me. My pops started racing dirt bikes in the 70's, after getting back from Vietnam, as a way to get a fix of adrenaline to help carry him through the work week. Having always been involved with hot rods and drag racing is his younger years, motocross offered a low cost way to get out and tame his competitive spirit. Once I came along it was only natural that my dad was going to pass his love for motorsports down to me. From the time I can remember my dad had me around dune buggies and dirt bikes, so it was much to my chagrin that my mom made my dad promise to wait till I was 7 years old to buy me a bike of my own. For all my mothers efforts to the contrary, once I threw a leg over that first bike there was no stopping me from following in my fathers footsteps. Racing, like eye color, is hereditary...


Just like me with my father, the Games Boys Racing team is a tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation. Brothers, Greg and Bruce Games grew up boating the Parker Strip with their dad, Ray, and enjoying the the hot-rod flat bottom scene that the area is so well known for. Life being what it is, before long, kids came into the mix. Soon Andrew Games and his brother Greg were joining their dad Greg, uncle Bruce, and Grandpa Ray at the Thanksgiving circle races that have long been a Parker tradition. The hook was then set and the Games family started looking for a way to get into the action themselves. For as long as Andrew can remember, the Crackerboxes were the wildest boats at the races. Andrew can remember watching the SS boats, K's, and GN's race then seeing everyone on the beach step back 10 to 20 feet when the Crackers took the course. The intense action of these races had a tendency to put a boat on the beach from time to time, thus making the Crackers a blast to watch. The wild nature of the class really appealed to Andrew and 6 years ago, after taking a ride in the P-33 "Tummy Gummer" Crackerbox, the die was cast and the search began for a Cracker of their own. When word came in that Dave Sammons was selling his 1966 Patterson Wood Crackerbox (P-550) a deal was made and the the "Screamin Eagle" was towed to it's new home near Los Angeles.



The all wood Patterson served fearlessly for many years before old age and the rigors of boat racing finally took it's toll on the 'ol girl relegating her to retirement and opening the door for a new fiberglass Crackerbox to be the Patterson's successor in the 2013 Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series. Coming into the Lake Havasu round two weeks ago the Games Boys had high hopes to be able to tie up the points chase... The "Eagle", however, may have had other plans as she revealed a minor issue just before race time; the bracing that supports the strut had cracked and with less than 24 hours to race time the thrash was on to find a suitable solution. Fortunately, being in Havasu, there was a solution to the problem just a phone call away. Enter Brian of Tank-It Manufacturing in Lake Havasu City. Brian started his fabrication career building custom trailers in Colorado, but while on vacation in Glamis a few years back Brian got the call that the company he was working for had sold and his role would be changing considerably. Rather than deal with that, Brian and family elected to make the pilgrimage to Lake Havasu City and open up shop for themselves. Tank-It is a full service fab shop that specializes in aluminum tank manufacturing. Relieved, Andrew carted the boat over to Brian who made short, affordable, work of the problematic strut brace. This kind of stressful last minute fix is something that every racing family experiences and is one of the many ways that racing strengthens the bonds hold these tribes together...


For all your fabrication needs



The culprit...



Tank-It can handle some serious sheet metal..


Putting the finishing touches on the new bracket...



Brian took great care not to put too much heat to the brace to keep from damaging the hull...


P-550 is race ready...

Once the boat was sorted out it was time to put the final touches on the race program and get ready to go out for test and tune. In other words it was game time for the Games Boys...


Last minute thrash...

After a quick and exciting test run and impromptu drivers meeting, the general consensus among the Cracker pilots was that the course was in need of some adjusting in the interest of safety. Being that Havasu was a new venue for the Lucas Oil series, the organizers relied heavily on the input of the drivers in order to make a safe, exciting show. Andrew, along with Greg and members of some other crews made suggestions to the officials and soon the course was reset and the safety greatly improved.


A quick meeting regarding the new course...


The officials were attentive to the needs of the Crackerbox Pro drivers...

For those who have never witnessed a Crackerbox Pro race, it is a sight to behold indeed! The Crackerbox Pro races are one of the most popular races at the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Races. The race is a short course sprint with all boats starting together in a "rolling" start. From the green flag the race is a blur of action with each boat battling for position and fighting to hold their lines into and out of the each corner. Crackerbox racing is like Speedway Sidecar Motorcycle racing, only instead of motorcycles with sidecars piloted by one rider and one crazy person hanging off the side, you have small flatbottom, direct drive, boats with 314ci small block power and one driver and one crazy person sitting back by the transom. At the inception of this type of racing the passenger in the boat was meant to be an on-board mechanic who could handle issues with the boat as the race was taking place. These days the passenger spends his time helping navigate but mostly is the only person on the crew crazy enough to sit next to the driver. You know that guy in every family that is just kind of "off"? That's the Crackerbox Rider...

The Crackerbox boys race in between the drags in the Lucas Oil Drag Boat series' schedule, but they are certainly no side show. When the Crackerboxes take the water the beach is abuzz with people craning their necks to watch what is one of the most action packed races of the day. When the time finally came for the Games Boys to do their thing they didn't disappoint. They flat laid it down! With solid speed and great line choices it's easy to see why the Games family gets the respect they do from their fellow racers. Winning isn't always about who has the fastest boat, but who is the smartest driver. There were other boats with more speed but Andrew kept a cool head and repeatedly put his sled in the best position to turn fast laps. And cool heads prevailed! At the end of Saturday the Games Boys Racing P-550 crew was standing in first with solid heat race finishes and a little luck in the form of a penalty for one of the other teams. At the start of the final heat on Saturday the 44 boat made contact with the P-550 and was subsequently reprimanded by the officials. No damage was done but it made for some white knuckle moments for both crews and some tension later in the pits. Rubbin's racin' and that's the way things go sometimes!

With more racing to come the following day the Games Boys Racing team was within striking distance of the points lead. The team had a few adjustments up their sleeve that would possibly give them the fastest boat in the pits. Now, if you take an already proven race strategy and combine that with the fastest boat, you have a winning combination. The Games Boys could smell blood and Sunday they would execute the final blow to the competition...




Rubbin's Racin'...

Sunday brought with it... Wind... Windy weather is pretty commonplace in the Arizona desert in the fall, but with the wind came the cancellation of the final day of racing for this round. This meant that the teams would leave Havasu with the points they had accumulated by the end of racing Saturday. That put Games Boys Racing just over one heat down in points after the weekend. With the final round coming this weekend in Chandler, AZ the championship is within reach and the drama will be high on the water at the World Finals.

Whether the Games Boys have what it takes to snatch the championship from the competition remains to be seen. What we do know is that when the Boys show up to do battle, they will show up as a family and in racing, blood is always thicker than water!

See you on the water!

Tom Leigh (PinkTaco)