Moving services supervisor is top national hydroplane racer

Jenna Staul

Moving services supervisor Jeff Brewster is no stranger to moving a large desk from one lecture hall to another, or to the thrill of a race and the taste of victory.

Brewster is a nationally recognized hydroplane racer at the pinnacle of his nearly 35-year career.

“A lot of people take drugs to escape,” Brewster said. “When I hear that engine running, that’s my drug – it’s an adrenaline rush.”

He holds the top spot in the nation in the sport’s 25 Super Stock Hydro class, a title he received earlier this month.

“In most motor sports there is a high point championship, like in NASCAR or motocross,” Brewster said. “That’s what I won (in hydroplane racing).”

For Brewster, hydroplane racing is a family affair.

“My dad and uncle raced in the ’50s,” said Brewster, a Streetsboro native whose three brothers have also raced hydroplanes. “I grew up going to races with my parents.”

Brewster, a father of four, has helped foster his own children’s hydroplane racing careers. Both his sons, ages 14 and 12, race, and his daughters, ages 7 and 5, have burgeoning interests in the sport. His wife, Christine Brewster, sophomore geography major at Kent State, also races.

Brewster’s racing takes him across the nation in search of the perfect bodies of water fit to race a hydroplane on.

“They (hydroplanes) can’t run on the typical lake,” Brewster said. “We have to find bodies of water that will work. I’ve traveled to Canada, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Kentucky and Michigan.”

Hydroplanes, which consist of small outboard motors that attach to boats and remain primarily airborne while racing, can reach speeds in excess of 75 mph while racing on straightaways, Brewster said.

The sport, however, is not without its risks.

“We do everything we can to make it safer,” Brewster said. “It’s not like NASCAR or motocross where you have a fear of fire. We have a fear of getting run over by other boats. We’re not buckled in (to the boats).”

Hydroplane racers wear bright orange colors to increase their visibility in the water and wear kevlar clothes to prevent being cut by boat propellers.

After more than three decades of hydroplane racing and reaching the top of his sport, Brewster said the novelty of racing has yet to wear off.

“I’m astonished after 35 years that I’m still having fun,” Brewster said.

Contact news correspondent Jenna Staul at [email protected].