Running a 41-foot Apache, the Naples, Fla.-based Predator team cockpit duo of owner/driver Dean Stahlman and throttleman Nate Hunt has a lot on its plate this season. In addition to running their vintage 1987, yellow V-bottom in the Bracket 200 class, a big change from the Bracket 400 ranks where the team claimed a Union Internationale Motonautique world title and an American Power Boat Association national title in 2022, the team will field the former Smith Brothers raceboat in the Bracket 600 class.
Formerly in the Bracket 400 class, the Predator team is moving to the Bracket 200 ranks this season. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
But for the moment, at least, Stahlman and Hunt are savoring their induction into the APBA Hall of Champions, which happened during a celebration last night in Seattle that closed the domestic powerboat-racing sanctioning body’s annual meeting.
“It was an honor to be up there, but I got a little bit of the ‘hiccups’ on stage,” Stahlman said, then laughed. “But what an honor to be there with such a great group.
“To be inducted into the APBA Hall of Champions is amazing,” he added. “It’s a tribute to what a great team we had this year.”
Flanking Connie Hunt, who rode in the Predator raceboat throughout the 2022 season, Dean Stahlman (left) and Nate Hunt are now members of the APBA Hall of Champions.
His cockpit-mate agreed.
“It feels great to be inducted into such a prestigious group,” he said. “And it was really good to see some really cool people and friends like (Unlimited hydroplane pilot) Jimmy Shane and (tunnel-boat racer) Tim Seebold.”
The team will run U.S. 1 designation on its raceboat this season, and will switch to No. 244 in 2024. In addition to its new Bracket 600-class endeavor and Bracket 200-class effort, the team has acquired a 27-foot Magnum V-bottom and plans to campaign it next year in the Bracket 400 ranks.
“We have a lot of work to do with that boat,” said Stahlman. “But we’ll have it out there in 2024.”
For now at least, Stahlman and Hunt are most excited to run their unmistakable 41-footer in their new class.
“The boat is ready to go right now,” said Hunt. “We have two sets of engines from Bruce Baker, who came to Seattle for the ceremony, of Express Engines. We have another set of brand-new drives in the shop. We could put the boat in the water and race tomorrow.”