Veteran offshore racer Gary Ballough was on his way to the airport in Detroit this morning when I called him to find out how his weekend went at the Offshore Powerboat Association-sanctioned St. Clair River Classic in Michigan. Just five days before, Ballough on I were on the phone talking about his impromptu ride in his friend Ron Szolack’s mind-blowing, full-carbon 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran, and today we discussed his Super Stock-class race victory alongside Szolack, who had never raced before.
Ron Szolack was all smiles after winning his first offshore race in St. Clair, Mich., alongside veteran throttleman Gary Ballough in Ballough’s 32-foot Doug Wright. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
“I had a spectacular time in Michigan—all I can say is that I’m glad I arrived a couple of days early,” Ballough said. “I was lucky enough to get to drive Ron’s 32-foot Skater with big JC Performance engines out in the bay behind his house one day. That thing was fast, but compared to the Sterling Performance-powered Skater he and Chip (Miller of Miller Marina) are getting ready for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout it wasn’t as impressive. The 368 is an animal.
“Seriously, I was speechless getting out of that thing,” he continued. “I’m guessing the only thing I can compare it to is riding in a funny car. I’ve been in several racecars, but never a funny car. You can feel that it is a specific purpose-built kilo/shootout boat with every fire of the pistons. It’s almost accentuated with the way Peter (Hledin, Skater’s founder) laid that thing up. It’s a pretty fantastic piece. I can’t wait to see what they can do once it’s dialed in.”