Just one question remains after yesterday’s Desert Storm Poker Run top-speed shootout on Lake Havasu in Arizona: Can anyone take the Queen of the Desert crown from the head of California’s Miranda Jones? For the third time in four years—the event was cancelled in 2020—Jones claimed top honors in Dial 911, a Skater Powerboats 388 catamaran powered by twin 2,000-hp turbocharged engines from Brummett Marine.
Miranda Jones (white boat) and Gary Smith ruled the day in their Skater catamarans powered by Brummett Marine engines. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.
Jones made two runs on the three-quarter-mile course. Her first pass of 183.4 mph was more than enough to earn her the Queen of the Desert title. And while several ticks slower, her 177.9 mph second pass was still better than the 174.5-mph that earned her the title in 2021.
As usual, conditions were less than perfect thanks to a 15- to 25-mph, north-to-northwest wind. Gary Smith, the 2022 King of the Desert winner with a 184.8-mph result on his first pass, also had to battle them.
“On my last pass, I wanted to be on the left side of the course,” said Smith, who ran the Predator III Skater 388 catamaran powered by twin turbocharged Brummett engines turned up to 2,300 hp a side. “But the wind had pushed me to the center of the course by the time I got to the end of it.
“Everybody said the boat looked like it was on rails and was running with the right attitude,” he continued. “It came off the line like a rocket and was still pulling near the end. My only complaint, looking back, is that I should have run a taller gear and that my prop slip was 11.89 percent. I have that down to 3 percent with my other props on my other boat. But the boat is in one piece and everything is good—and my fuel tanks were still five-eighths full when I put the boat back on the trailer.”
Though Smith’s first run was his best, he ran 184.3 mph on his second pass and 184.7 mph on his. His consistency was remarkable, especially given the blustery conditions.
But he almost didn’t get a chance to run at all. During a Friday photo shoot, a starter on one his engines broke. He brought the 38-footer to Barrett Custom Marine at 2 p.m., and by 7 p.m. the part was replaced and the boat was ready for yesterday’s action.
“I have to give special thanks A.J. Barrett and, of course, Vern Gilbert at West Coast Drive Service and (engine-builder) Carson Brummett,” he said.
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the 2022 Desert Storm top-speed shootout.
The Desert Storm shootout never fails to attract a slew of competitors in DCB Performance Boats catamarans, and this year was no exception. Leading the charge in one of the El Cajon, Calif., company’s M35 Widebody catamarans powered by Mercury Racing 1350 engines with a 165.4-mph run was DCB’s own Tony Chiaramonte. DCB owner Jeff Clark reached 155 mph in his DCB M31 with Mercury Racing 1550/1350 power, Steve Sundling hit 151 mph in another M31 cat and Nick Childs made a 126-mph run in an M37R powered by a pair of Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines.
“Those were all good passes,” said Chiaramonte, who delivered the best performance in his class. “And the conditions were windy and horrible. Luckily, we were blocked by the island.”
Of course, there were plenty of smaller boats in the mix such as an Adrenaline Custom Boats 26-foot catamaran owned by Josh and Cherilyn Noack of Teague Custom Marine in Valencia, Calif., and powered by Mercury Racing 300R outboard engines. For the conditions, Noack said he was happy with the 114.1-mph top speed he reached in his 26-foot cat. In the 2019 shootout, when the boat was new to the couple it ran 108 mph.
“I think my speed was good; my setup was a little different than last time and the conditions were a little more challenging,” Noack said. “The course was pretty good and the boat felt good going down it. The start was a little rough but not terrible.
“I watched a few of the other runs and man those big Skaters were darn impressive,” he added.
Teague Custom Marine’s Josh Noack had an excellent day in his 26-foot Adrenaline catamaran with Mercury Racing 300R outboard power.
Editor’s note: Miranda Jones could not be reached for comment when this story went live. Her comments will be added. Look for complete results from the 2022 Desert Storm Poker Run Shootout when they become available on the event’s website.
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