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HomeEvent CoverageCountdown to Key West: Classic Primal Instinct Cigarette Gets New Chief Power in Time for Poker Run

Countdown to Key West: Classic Primal Instinct Cigarette Gets New Chief Power in Time for Poker Run

Curt Gano, a longtime performance boater from Michigan, is heading to Florida this weekend to escape the cold weather, check out the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and, best of all, reconnect with his prize possession—Primal Instinct, a 1999 Cigarette Racing 38 Top Gun that he’s owned for 14 years.

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Michigan’s Curt Gano will have a full crew with him in Primal Instinct for the Key West Poker Run. Photo courtesy Florida Powerboat Club

Gano, who has been doing the Florida Powerboat Club’s Key West Poker Run since the late ’90s with friends from Michigan, is excited to get his conventional 38-foot V-bottom back and run it in next week’s poker run from Miami to Key West.

According to Gano, the boat, which was repowered with twin 950-hp engines in 2003 by Tommy Hofstetter of Chief Performance, had been running well since Chief refreshed the motors in 2006. That was up until a month ago when he was doing some prop testing and cracked an oil pump pickup and ended up blowing up one of the engines.

Two new 950-hp engines from Chief Performance were recently installed in the 38-foot Cigarette.“After we blew the motor I didn’t know if we’d make it to Key West this year,” Gano said. “We bored the engines a couple of times already so we felt it would be best to start fresh. So Tommy built me two new engines and got them done in time for the run. He did a sea trial in the boat last week and I’m going to take it out on Monday and Tuesday to put some hours on the engines before we run down to Key West on Thursday.”

Hofstetter, who spends much of his time building more powerful and sophisticated engines, said the boat is a perfect fit for the 950-hp engines, which he said he built many of “back in the day.” In fact, Hofstetter estimates he assembled more than 200 pairs of those engines over the years.

“Obviously we could have gone more modern with the power, but I love the way this boat is setup—it’s a great package, it’s extremely reliable and it runs in the mid 90s,” added Gano, who said he puts between 200 to 300 hours on his boat each season. “It’s a little old school, but it works for the type of boating we do in Michigan. The engines have a lot of displacement—622 cubic inches—that’s what I like about them. They’re a perfect fit.”

Gano was sincerely appreciative of the turnaround by Hofstetter and the team at Chief.

“The fact that Tommy built me two motors with all of the other projects he’s dealing with leading up to Key West just shows you how well he takes care of his customers,” Gano said.

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