With more than 60 boats on hand for the St. Clair River Classic—the fourth race in the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series—spectators on the shores of St. Clair, Mich., and Courtright, Ontario, Canada, were treated to some competitive racing and fast-paced action as several teams did battle in the event sanctioned by the Offshore Powerboat Association and P1 Offshore—both American Power Boat Association-member organizations—in conjunction with the St. Clair-based Bluewater Offshore Racing Association.
Team Woody teammates Billy Shipley and Chad Woody took home the checkered flag in Class 2 during the St. Clair River Classic in St. Clair, Mich., on Sunday. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
This year’s 27th annual event started with testing and a meet-and-greet street party on Saturday followed by the first race of the day on Sunday, which was the “Clash of the Titans” a vintage powerboat exhibition race that featured 14 teams in a variety of classic boats ranging from a 1980 30-foot Viper and a 1996 28-foot Skater to a 1986 Cigarette 38 SE and a 1983 Cougar catamaran. The pre main event “demonstration race” that began with a parade lap was definitely a fan favorite as getting to see that many old school raceboats on the course, including the eventual Class 4 winning team later in the day in the Old School 38-foot Cigarette owned and throttled by Michigan’s Matt Soper, was an unusual sight.
In the first official race of the day, the Class 6 and Class 7 teams—there were eight boats in Class 6 and seven entries in Class 7—mixed it up along the river, cautiously taking to the unpredictable current-caused conditions between turns three and four on the south end of the course. In the end, Team Deception’s Jesse Schmig and Robert Bryan took the Class 6 checkered flag ahead of Smith Brothers and Moderation, while the Class 7 podium positions from first to third place were Nauti Boys, Jackhammer and The Punisher.
“The weather was great and the 609 ran like a top,” said Johnny Saris, who ran the third-place Class 6 Sutphen Moderation with teammate Mike Lang. “Mike drove his ass off and we didn’t break out. I was tickled with the results once we found out we finished third because one team broke out ahead of us.”
Check out the slideshow above for more photos from Sunday’s St. Clair River Classic.
In the day’s second race, Classes 3, 4 and 5 took to the course along with four Stock Vee teams and one Modified Vee team—Boatfloater.com’s Steve and Stephen Kildahl, who made the trek to Michigan from Florida.
In Class 3, Team Woody’s Jeff Muehlhausen and Brad Wade ran uncontested in the team’s LaveyCraft, while Matt Soper and navigator Dan Soper earned the Class 4 victory in the Old School Cigarette after the Predator Apache that appeared to win the race broke out and ended up third behind Kickin Sticks.
The Class 5 race finished with Shoreline Plumbing teammates Joe Reilly and Brent Appiarius taking the checkered flag in their Superboat ahead of Team Woody’s JJ Turk and Micheal Stancombe in their 30-foot Phantom and Bulletproof Glendale’s George Ivey and Craig Belfatto in their Warlock.
And in Stock Vee, the Wazzup team of Ed “Smitty” Smith and his son, Anthony Smith, ran led from start to finish with a strong showing in its canopied Phantom. Finishing second and third were LSB teammates Brit Lilly and Kevin Smith in their Extreme and Shocker teammates Chris Colson and Patrick Romeo in their Phantom.
The single-class Super Stock field in the third race saw eight boats hit the course and only five boats complete the race as CMR and Jackhammer dropped out with mechanical issues and Team Allen Lawn Care And Landscaping rolled its Doug Wright catamaran on the south end of the course midway through the race. Fortunately owner and throttleman Bill Allen and driver Cody McDowell escaped the incident without serious injury.
The veteran Super Stock racers in CR Racing and Performance Boat Center put on a great show for the fans in St. Clair, Mich.
After the team’s start-to-finish victory, CR Racing’s Casey Boaz, who owns and runs the boat with longtime teammate Rob Unnerstall, said the team’s 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran ran flawlessly while holding off the hard-charging Performance Boat Center team of Myrick Coil and Rusty Williams that finished second ahead of Canada Construction’s Ryan Beckley and Chris Hopgood, who made his offshore racing debut alongside the veteran racer.
“It was an awesome race,” Boaz said. “We could not have done it without our crew. Our setup was perfect for the conditions.”
Coil, who pulled double duty running with M CON’s Tyler Miller as the lone Supercat entry in the fourth race of the day, said he and Williams ran a conservative race once they realized how dialed in CR Racing was after a few laps.
“The CR team was quick, that’s for sure,” Coil added. “It was a good day overall. We always want to win but second place isn’t terrible; it’s good for the points standings.”
Coil’s teammate in M CON said he enjoyed the visit to St. Clair, the same venue where he and Tyson Garvin rolled the team’s previous 40-foot Skater in 2019, and was happy be part of the show despite not having another team to race against.
“St. Clair is such a beautiful venue that allows us as racers to be right beside the course in the dry pits and watch all of the other classes race,” Miller said. “The water was exceptional and the boat ran very well. We are happy to be back racing.”
The Team Woody crew was especially happy with its win in Class 2, which ran in the final race with Supercat, ClassONE, Factory Stock 450R and Vee Extreme. In their 35-foot Fountain, teammates Billy Shipley and Chad Woody edged out the Bat Boat and Strictly Business to take home the Class 2 trophy.
In Class 1, Miss GEICO teammates Steve Curtis and Brit Lilly ran the team’s 47-foot Victory catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 1100 engines against the SV Offshore/Sweetwater Outerlimits catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 860 engines. And while the boats weren’t evenly matched—Curtis and Lilly lapped Vinnie Diorio and Simon Prevost, who were back in the Outerlimits after it was repaired following a rollover in Cocoa Beach, Fla., in May—the teams managed to put on a good show for the fans with some back-and-forth passing at certain points in the race.
The TS Motorsports MTI ran uncontested as it has all season in the new Factory Stock 450R class, but that didn’t stop driver Taylor Scism and throttleman John Tomlinson, who celebrated his birthday over the weekend, from running hard down the straightaways and using every minute on the course to fine-tune their communication and strategy.
The other uncontested entry in the race, the Vee Extreme winners—hometown hero Ed “Evil Ed” Smith and his throttleman, Anthony Smith (unrelated) in the Knucklehead Racing 40-foot Fountain—ran a strong race to add to the show. The good news for race teams and fans is that they won’t have to wait long—or travel far—for next week’s show down (Aug. 5-8) at the annual Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City, Ind.
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