The static-infused voice echoing from Nate Brown’s walkie-talkie brings the conversation to an immediate halt.
This is a common scene during the day job for Brown, who politely excuses himself to field the inquiry.
As operations manager at the Snoqualmie Casino, Brown is constantly putting out the proverbial fire.
His response is friendly and appears to satisfy the caller when a beat of silence follows.
Brown returns his attention to the topic at hand, unlimited hydroplane racing, when the radio fires up yet again.
“Oh,” adds the male voice with far greater enthusiasm, “Good luck this weekend.”
The well-wishers seem to be coming from everywhere this week for Brown, who owns the U17 Miss Red Dot.
And there’s a clear-cut reason why.
“It’s Seafair” said Brown, whose team, Our Gang Racing, built the Lycoming turbine-engined Miss Red Dot, which will compete this weekend in the Albert Lee Cup at Seafair on Lake Washington. “This is the World Series, the Super Bowl for us local guys.”
Brown, a resident of Preston, drove power boats for 23 years before moving on as a crew chief.
As a driver he captured the national high point championship, set three records and was inducted into the APBA Hall of Champions. But his most cherished accomplishment was a victory in front of hometown fans in the 2001 Seafair Cup.
“As a kid I would tow a boat with my bike to the water and row out and watch the hydros,” said the 53-year-old Brown, who also won the Gold Cup in 2004. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing.”
Brown, who retired from driving in 2008, had expected to watch his nephew, Kip Brown, pilot Miss Red Dot at Seafair, but an unfortunate turn of events in the Tri-Cities has forced Nate to get behind the wheel again.
During a morning test session last weekend at the Columbia Cup in Pasco, Kip Brown ended up hooking the boat in the second turn.
The boat, for the most part, was in one piece following the incident.
The same couldn’t be said for Kip Brown.
An X-ray revealed a broken tibia, sidelining the driver for approximately one month.
Nate Brown qualified the boat but was unable to advance to the finals after posting a fifth-place finish in the third heat.
“I’m an old man. My timing was certainly off,” Brown said with a chuckle.
“We had to make a few adjustments,” Brown said. “Kip is quite a bit taller than me. We more or less had to throw a few phone books in there so I could reach the pedals.”
With the Columbia Cup under his belt and a week to prepare, Brown figures it’s just like riding a bike.
But this bike has a 3,000-horsepower engine capable of reaching 200 miles per hour.