Many eyes in the powerboating world will be focused on Erie, Pa.— of all places—this weekend for the inaugural Erie Poker Run, organized and hosted by Anthony Scioli’s Elite Poker Runs LLC. A lot of folks in the go-fast powerboat community wondered, “Why Erie?” Scioli said, “Why not?’ especially after visiting the site and meeting with the Erie Sport Commission, which helped with the local permitting, hospitality industry and promotion.
“We offer a lot more than anyone ever anticipates,” said Mark Janneret, the director of the Eire Sports Commission. “We’re two hours or less from Buffalo, Pittsburg and Cleveland, and Presque Isle State Park outdraws Yellowstone National Park in visitors each year.”
For Scioli, the location of the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel and Wolverine Park Marina, as well as the venues’ enthusiasm for the event, made Erie a “no brainer.” That just three local boats are participating is disappointing to the young poker-run organizer, but he is pleased with the more-than-40 boats coming to town from all over the Northeast and Midwest.
Performance boats from the Midwest and Northeast are arriving in Erie for this weekend’s poker run. Photo courtesy Anthony Scioli.
Among those who have arrived in Erie is Richfield, Wisconsin’s Vinnie Diorio with his 2015 Outerlimits SL 41, which you’ve read about here before. Diorio boats on the Lake Winnebago system, so is looking forward to some of the big Lake Erie water.
“I’m looking forward to having so much big iron to boat with, seeing the different hardware, and show mine off a little,” Diorio said.
Diorio has only had his new ride on the water twice this season, but he’s already delighted with it. He said it handles even better than his previous 39-foot Outerlimits.
“They’ve really got the bottom figured out on this boat,” he said.
Tom Schlenz brought his 42-foot Fountain, built in 2000, from Trafalger, Ind., where he’s run a performance boating service shop since he “retired” 11 years ago. Schlenz heard good things about the Buffalo Poker Run that Scioli also organizes and liked the idea of attending an inaugural Erie event.
“I hear their events are more laid back, you have a variety of boats and a variety of boaters,” he said. “I’m looking forward to boating in the Northeast and meeting some new people.”
All the pieces are in place and the players are just waiting for the one mitigating factor in any outdoor event: the weather. And when Lake Erie’s involved, that factor can mitigate in a heartbeat.
Regardless, Lake Erie always makes for pretty pictures. Stay tuned.
Editor’s note: On assignment for speedonthewater.com, Tony Esposito will provide updates on the event throughout the weekend. A frequent contributor to the site, Esposito is a career journalist who has worked in radio and print and was as the director of marketing for Mercury Racing for nine years before leaving in 2004.
Top photo and graphics courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images