Although not everything went according to plan Sunday because of a thunderstorm and freighter delays on the St. Clair River in Michigan, the 25th annual St. Clair River Classic turned into another memorable affair chocked full of tight racing and a shoreline full of fans.
The Supercat action during Sunday’s St. Clair River Classic in Michigan did not disappoint. All photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
While the first two races of the day ended up being delayed by both north and southbound freighter traffic—shipping delays are the norm in St. Clair—it was a lengthy weather delay on top of being behind schedule that led organizers to combine both the third and fourth races of the St. Clair River Classic. Delays and all, the fourth round of the American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series was easily one of the best events the loyal St. Clair fans have seen in many years thanks to the combined efforts of the Offshore Powerboat Association, Powerboat P1 and the 62 registered teams that made the trip to Michigan.
The Victory team ran a solid race to earn the Class One checkered flag in the fourth round of the APBA Offshore Championship Series.
In the most-thrilling race, in terms of speed, for the fans, the three-boat Class One fleet put on a great show with Dubai’s Victory team coming out on top as Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali outdueled the second-place Australia-based 222 Offshore Racing team of Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella, with Miss GEICO teammates Steve Curtis and Miles Jennings running in third place the entire race while feeling out the team’s new boat (read the story).
“Like GEICO, we were testing and tuning earlier this week following our incident in Sarasota and still getting to know the boat out there today,” said Victory team crewmember Julian Maldanado. “Thankfully we took the win and hope to keep the momentum going in Michigan City next week. We were fortunate not to have any problems in St. Clair. We prefer rougher water, but the river was nice and the current made it challenging. The town was cool, too, and very welcoming.”
Competing at the same time, the Supercat race was filled with excitement as WHM Motorsports nearly caught Pro Floors Racing on the final straightaway and M-Con rolled over midway through the race on the ever-treacherous south end of the river.
“That was a great day for us—we needed that to stay in good shape in the points standings,” said Grant Bruggemann, who throttled the NZ-11 MTI alongside driver and owner Wayne Valder. “The Kasse Racing engines proved great and Wayne did an excellent job moving us around the course. The whole team did such a great job getting us to the race and all the way through the race—it really does take a crew of people to make all of this happen.”
Pro Floors Racing teammates Wayne Valder and Grant Bruggemann earned their second victory of the season in St. Clair.
Bruggemann said Pro Floors had about a 14-second lead on WHM’s Billy Mauff and Jay Muller approaching the 13th and final lap when the boat threw a blade on the starboard propeller.
“We knew something went wrong—figuring we lost a blade and with only one lap to go, I asked Wayne if he wanted to ease up and he said ‘No mate let’s keep going,’ so we cruised in as best we could, shaking the whole way,” he added with a laugh. “I’m pretty sure every nut and bolt on the boat is loose now. It was good to see the M-Con guys get out in one piece. As racers, we’re all friends and we never want to come around and see a boat flipped over. Then all you’re thinking about is that you hope to see them on the boat the next time you come around.”
Thankfully the M-Con team of Tyler Miller and Tyson Garvin made it out OK after rolling the team’s 40-foot Skater.
The third-place position went to Broadco’s Chuck Broaddus and Mark Niemann, who held the lead for a few laps and then managed to keep the often-challenging Performance Boat Center/Jimmy John’s teammates Myrick Coil and John Tomlinson behind them in fourth place.
Also part of the combined final races was the two-boat Vee Extreme class, which proved rather uneventful as the Instigator By Knucklehead Racing team of local racer Ed Smith and New Jersey’s Anthony Smith broke down while in the lead just a lap into the race, giving the first-place points to Brit Lilly and Kevin Smith in the Tug It Racing/Lilly Sport Boats 40-foot Fountain Powerboats V-bottom, which ended up cutting the race short with a few laps left due to water pressure issues.
Brit Lilly and Kevin Smith got some much-needed seat time in the team’s Vee Extreme-class-winning 40-foot Fountain.
“The big boat is really coming into form,” Lilly said after the contest, which was his second victory of the day as he and Smith won the Pro Stock Vee class in the LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness 30-foot Phantom in the day’s first race. “We were hoping for another fun race so it was tough to see the Instigator guys have issues. They were running well.
“For a while there, we had a good race with the guys in Done Deal,” Lilly added, referring to teammates Mike Mironyk and Steve Papp, who finished second in Pro Stock Vee ahead of Show Time’s Jay Wohltman and Mike Bocchino. “Old St. Clair tricked me again. It took us a few laps to remember how to turn here. Overall we had a great time—we always do though in St. Clair.”
Once again the super competitive Super Stock teams put on a great show. This time, the CR Racing/Anchoring.com duo of Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall picked up its second victory of the season and the Performance Boat Center/Auto Alert teammates Myrick Coil and Rusty Williams earned their best finish of the season, taking second ahead of Gary Ballough and Lorne Leibel in FJ Propeller to move into first place in the season standings.
“We were battling with Nick (Scafidi of Shadow Pirate) for several laps just waiting for him to make a mistake, and as soon as he did, we moved in,” said Boaz, who truly enjoyed his first time racing in St. Clair. “It was great to get the win at such a cool venue; this place is amazing.”
Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall earned their second Super Stock victory of the year in their CR Racing/Anchoring.com Doug Wright cat.
Unnerstall called the race, which ended with Shadow Pirate down in sixth place after the boat had a mechanical issue toward the end, a dogfight.
“That current was interesting—it definitely took some time to get used to,” Unnerstall said. “We were probably within half a mph of Shadow Pirate up top but we just couldn’t get around them. We kept scrubbing speed in the turns. Once we finally passed them, we took advantage of the cleaner water and were able to pull ahead and do what we could to make sure we finished.”
In Super Vee Extreme, the Punisher team of Charlie McCarthy and Tony Silveira got off to a great start and pushed the pace faster than any team could keep up with. Finishing second at the end of the race was Marker 17 Marine teammates Vinnie Diorio and Brian Forehand, while the Boatfloater.com father-and-son team of Stephen and Steve Kildahl took third.
In Class 3, the two Fountain entries—Wazzup and Strictly Business—ran a closely contested race with Ed “Smitty” Smith and his son, Nick Smith, appearing to edge out Louis Giancontieri and Johnny Stanch. But after the results were made official, the win went to Strictly Business. The lone Class 2 entry—the father-and-son team of Jim and Mitchell Watson in the Summerset Boat Lifts Skater Powerboats catamaran—did not finish the race.
The undefeated Simmons Marine team continued its winning ways in Class 4 as Jim Simmons and Jason Zolecki ran away with their fourth-straight victory in Simmon’s 34-foot Phantom. The outboard-powered Edward J Racing boat and a new entry—the I Am The Wild One Rumble Phish, a one-of-a-kind 1,100-hp 35-foot by 5-foot Buzzi drive rudder boat that throws an impressive rooster tail—were no match for Simmons Marine.
Check out the slideshow above for more images from Sunday’s race on the St. Clair River.
In Class 5 competition, JT Social/Bronx Phantom ran a solid race behind the efforts of Vinny Winoski and Robert Winoski in the new 30-foot Phantom. The team finished ahead of Specialized Racing’s Mark Gallagher and All Fired Up’s Joe Crocker and Rob Lauer.
The Class 6 victory went to Deception Offshore, as Jesse Schmig and Robert Bryant took control of the race early and finished in front of Liquid Addiction and Smith Brothers/Crunch Customs.
Finally, in the Class 7 race featuring single outboard-powered V-bottoms, NJI Motorsports’ Nick Imprescia seemed to pulled away from the Shadow Pirate team of Dylan Gold and Joe Reilly to earn the win but an 60-plus-mph break-out penalty sent NJI to the back of the seven-boat fleet, giving the checkered flag to Gold and Reilly. Second place went to Chug It teammates Jason Muller and Jax Muller, while third went to On A Mission’s Ken Bird. Running uncontested in a P1 SuperStock entry, George Ivey and Cynthia Belfatto got the win in Visit St. Pete.
Editor’s note: Official race results were made available on the OPA Racing website late Sunday night.
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