Bad Apples Racing makes KDBA Diamond Nationals Debut

Running his Cheyenne Jet Boat, "Old's Cool" at Lucas Oil Stadium's Lake Lucas was on Joel Silverstein's bucket list. His son, Ron Silverstein, made it happen with the support of Bad Apples Racing.


Bad Apples Racing is more than a team of go-fast enthusiasts. They're a family. And when their dad, drag boat racing veteran Joel Silverstein, was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in his life, the family made a critical decision - the Cheyenne would run on Lake Lucas this summer.

"We have so many memories racing with our dad. The goal was to do this with him, to make his dream come true. We know he was watching over us when we rolled up to Lucas Oil stadium with not only his boat but two others in tow. He would have loved it."

While drivers Adam Silverstein, Ron Silverstein, and Brandon Callahan put on more passes in one summer than most drivers do in a lifetime, this was their first nationally televised pro event with the Kentucky Drag Boat Association (KDBA). The goal? To show up and qualify for the big dance.

Ron Silverstein qualifies for the KDBA Diamond Nationals finals in his late father's Cheyenne Jet Boat, 'Old's Cool'.

What made this event different?

Active members of the Northern Illinois Drag Boat Association - the only club running "bare knuckles, brung what ya' got" street-style racing on the open waters of Grass Lake in Antioch, Illinois - the team's drivers race weekly in multiple classes. Brandon explains, "At [Blarney] Island, the water is uncontrolled and unpredictable. There's wind, weather; the lake is shallow and choppy." Comparatively, Lake Lucas is the world's first purpose-built drag boat racing lake designed to withstand boat speeds over 250MPH.


Because of the conditions and preferred style of the NIDBA, inboard drivers pair up in a running start as they approach the starting line and hammer down to full throttle when the light tree turns green. "Most associations use a starting rope for drivers to line up their boats. You hold the rope above your head, start your engine, and are challenged to get the timing just right as you approach the starting line and make your pass," Ron explains. The guys can drive; the difference in starting requires new strategies they were eager to learn and employ.

Adam Silverstein (front) on the rope at the Lake Lucas starting line.

Race Weekend Recap

Labor Day weekend kicked off early for the Bad Apples Racing team, who departed for Wheatland, Missouri, immediately after their final Thursday night NIDBA race of the season, where multiple team drivers clinched High Points championships in their respective classes. After an overnight drive and St. Louis sunrise, they pulled into the pit at Lucas Oil stadium just as Friday morning qualifying rounds kicked off.


Day 1 - Qualifiers

While the Bad Apples crew set up their pit for the weekend, Adam Silverstein was the first driver dropped into Lake Lucas for Stock Eliminator qualifiers in his Nordic Thor, "Family Affair ."He was followed by Brandon Callahan in his new-this-year Cheyenne, "Black Betty" in Top Eliminator, and, later, Ron Silverstein in the fasted open boat class, Quick Eliminator, running their dad's Cheyenne, "Old's Cool ."After a hot day and thanks to some great coaching from fellow drivers and old friends, Ron succeeded in qualifying for the finals, impressing the KDBA officials.


Day 2 - Qualifiers

Saturday opened with a rain delay, and the team took full advantage by converting their VRBO rental carport into a much-needed shop to address a lost washer situation in Black Betty's big block. Later, with tuned-up engines and more practice on the starting rope, all three boats made it onto the brackets for Sunday's nationally televised finals.


Day 3 - Finals

With a solid first pass of the day, Ron lost with narrow margins to a seasoned KDBA pro running his final Quick Eliminator race before retiring. To have run against a KDBA legend in the boat of our own NIDBA legend was an honor - Ron hit top speeds but lost it on the line despite a valiant effort. Black Betty had a rough end to day two and, despite overnight engine work, day three wasn't her day. Adam landed the highest seed for the Bad Apples team after running a 9.017 on a 9.00 dial-in knocked out his opponent in round one and was the team's top performer making it into the 2nd round.


Watch the Bad Apples team at the KDBA Diamond Nationals on MAVTV and join the drivers and crew in counting down to the 2022 season!




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