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Mistakes Prove Costly at Atlantic City Veterans Grand Prix

Two veteran teams—one defending its fourth title—snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yesterday during the Offshore Powerboat Association Atlantic City Veterans Grand Prix, allowing a rookie running her second race ever to capture her first checkered flag on third stop of the 2016 OPA circuit.

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With Wanna Race throttleman/teammate Chris Reindl, rookie driver Jeanette Stolla took the Class 5 win yesterday in Atlantic City. All photos courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

“We miscounted laps,” said EJ Salamone of the RUFSTR Racing Class 5 team after losing what would have been the team’s fourth consecutive title at the historic New Jersey venue. “We thought we had a nice photo finish with Typhoon and we both pulled off the course.”

Both teams were wrong, and that allowed rookie driver Jeanette Stolla and her stickman Chris Reindl to fly their Wanna Race Reindl One Design “bat boat” to victory.

Salamone, along with his father, Ken, and Randy and Scott Schleuss of Typhoon Racing use the “old-school” lap-counting method of pieces of tape on the dashboard.

“We must have pulled two pieces on one lap by mistake,” the younger Salamone said.

For the Schleuss brothers, it was a miscommunication among the team members who placed six and not seven pieces of tape on the dash.

For a look at more of yesterday’s offshore powerboat racing action from Atlantic City, check out the slideshow above.

RUFSTR had moved out of the pack for a strong lead, but Typhoon was starting to reel the lead boat in over three laps when both teams pulled off the course.

For Wanna Race the victory was not a hollow one. “It’s so hard to win in this class,” Reindl said. “And we thought the boat was on borrowed time because of mechanical issues we’ve been having.”

Stolla, the only woman racing in OPA, came to the sport after attending a poker run with her neighbor—and now teammate—Reindl.

“It was awesome,” she said. “Racing is way better than I imagined it would be—it’s like flying and having your whole body filled with butterflies all at once. You can’t explain it, but exhilarating is the one word I could use.”

Taking an Atlantic City win for the fourth year in a row was Class 4 team Saris Racing Engines, which captured the flag after the rest of the thin field of boats broke down.

“We would have rather actually raced to win,” said Jason Saris, who throttled the boat with his son, Johnny, driving and Vern French in the navigating slot. “But I can’t think of a better way to spend Father’s Day. It doesn’t get any better, does it?”

In the Extreme Class, Miss GEICO’s Scott Begovich and Marc Granet handed the ALEX AND ANI team of Jimmy Cazzani and Herb Stotler, which took to the course with a lower unit damaged in Saturday’s practice session, its second defeat in as many races in the Garden State. (As for the ongoing good-natured war of words between the two outfits on Facebook, it appears to be a dead heat.) Not seen on the offshore racecourse for some time, Warpaint returned—to a healthy contingent of welcoming fans—to run uncontested in the Super Cat class.

This year’s Atlantic City Grand Prix was the last as race director for Dave Patnaude, who reestablished the race four years ago. He plans to return in a volunteer capacity running a turn boat or medical boat next year.

“It was time to pass the baton,” he said. “There was offshore racing in New Jersey before Dave Patnaude, and there will be offshore racing in New Jersey after Dave Patnaude.”

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Miss GEICO notched its second victory of the season in Atlantic City.

Official results for the 2016 Atlantic City Grand Prix

Super Vee Lite: 1. Wehaulboats.com 2. Octane
Extreme: 1. Miss GEICO 2. ALEX AND ANI
Super Cat: 1. Warpaint
Class 1: 1. Lightning Jacks
Class 3: 1. Wazzup 2. Strictly Business 3. Repeat Offender
Class 4: 1. Saris Racing Engines 2. Wicked Racing
Class 5: 1. Wanna Race 2. Reinforcer 3. Wazzup II
Class 6: 1. Knot Guilty 2. You Gun Learn 3. Early Detection
Class 7: 1. Bay Rat 2. Hangin N Bangin 3. On A Mission

For complete results as they become available, visit the OPA website.

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