Tregoning makes waves in drag boat racing scene

On July 16, Jon Tregoning of Florence competed in the Bi-Mart Summer Clash at Dexter Lake in Lowell. He finished second in the Personal Watercraft Division. Photo courtesy Hot Wired Images

Florence teen ‘too fast’ at CDBA event near Lowell

July 25, 2022 — It’s not that Florence 17-year-old Jon Tregoning doesn’t want to win one of these Columbia Drag Boat Association (CDBA) races that he competes in during many weekends over the summer. In fact, he would love to get that first victory under his belt. It’s just that he knows what’s waiting for him when he, inevitably, gets that first win.

“All the racers get together and pick up whoever wins the first race of their career, and they toss them right into the lake,” said Amy Tregoning, Jon’s mother.

Regardless, Jon would be happy to get wet if it meant a victory.

“Some people think I’m sand-bagging my races [the metaphorical act of adding weight to your boat to purposely slow it down],” Jon said. “Thing is, I’m just unlucky.”

The way things are going, the days of Jon staying dry are numbered as his hard work and determination will inevitably turn that luck around.

Jon spends his summer weekends racing drag boats in the CDBA, the premier racing association in the Pacific Northwest. The CDBA prides itself in offering a wide variety of class competition in a safe, fun and family-oriented atmosphere. The association features events across the northwest United States and includes everything from seasoned veterans to first-time competitors.

There are four races in Oregon this season that include racers of all levels. The racers compete in different divisions divided by the power and speed capability of their watercraft.

Jon typically races a jet ski in the Personal Water Craft (PWC) Division.

He occasionally will compete in the River Racer Division that includes any and all types of watercrafts. In fact, according to Jon, the possibilities are endless in the River Racer Division.

“If you’re a billionaire, you could take your personal yacht out,” he said. “You’d definitely take up the entire lane.”

Though this is only Jon’s second year competing in the CDBA, he has spent his life on or near water as his both his mother and his father, Tim, were members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

“I used to go on the Coast Guard boats,” Jon recalled. “I’ve even been inside a nuclear submarine, but I’m not going to elaborate on that.”

The Tregonings spent three years on the island nation of Guam, another factor that has helped acclimate Jon to aquatic life. 

“Most of the things you can do for fun in Guam are on the water,” remembered Jon, who attended second through fourth grade on the island. “There’s paddleboarding, diving, things like that.”

Though the Tregonings only got a jet ski about three years ago, Jon said they are very similar to all-terrain vehicles (ATV) that are a mainstay on the dunes south of Florence. Riding a jet ski was not a difficult transition for a person who had spent a lot of time on the dunes.

The CDBA is also not Jon’s first experience as a racer as, in the past, he once found success as a competitive BMX bike racer.

“I was also cursed with the ‘only getting second tradition’ that I have in the water,” he reminisced about his BMX days though, at least on the dirt track, the curse was eventually broken.

Amy reminded her son that he did, in fact, win three consecutive “very big trophies” during his days racing bikes.

Interestingly, Jon’s second places in the CDBA are not because his jet ski hasn’t been fast enough, as drag boat racing works a little differently than a typical race where whoever finishes first is named the winner.

In fact, at his last event on July 16, the Bi-Mart Summer Clash on Dexter Reservoir near Lowell, Jon was too fast.

To create a fair and competitive field, each racer chooses a specific time and attempts to get as close to that time as possible, without going over. If both racers go over their time, the winner is whoever goes over the least. Jon’s goal time is 11.25 seconds over a 1,000-foot course. He tries to stay as close to that 11.25 as possible.

This style of competition means racers must master the control of their craft in addition to simply going fast. This is a part of drag boat racing that Jon is not really a fan of.

“I personally detest it and would rather be beat by someone who is faster than me,” he said.

Though he may not prefer the style of competition, Jon finished second at the event on July 16 and delayed his inevitable soaking for one more race.

This style of competition doesn’t mean the boats aren’t going fast. They are going incredibly fast. So fast that Jon wears “ballistic” shorts that provide protection in the most extreme situations.

“That way if he hits the water going 100 miles an hour water won’t go up ‘certain places,’” Amy said.  

This extreme sport attracts racers of all genders and ages and from all over the United States. In fact, in October, the racers of the CDBA will compete with racers from the Arizona Drag Boat Association for their final event of the season, the ADBA Oktoberfest in Parker, Ariz.

Next up for Jon and the CDBA is the High Desert Showdown, at Haystack Reservoir in Culver on Aug. 27 and 28.

For more information on the CDBA and to follow Jon’s progress throughout the season, go to