A close-knit, self-described family of racers, the New Jersey-based Offshore Powerboat Association lost one of its most beloved members last weekend during the Eastlake Grand Prix in Ohio. During the Sunday Bracket 500-class contest, throttleman Rob Lauer and his son, Matt, were sharing the cockpit of their All Fired Up raceboat when the senior Lauer reportedly suffered a medical emergency and pulled off the course. The 52-year-old father of two died on the scene.
Captured here with his son, Joe, during the 2021 Roar Offshore Englewood Beach, Fla., event, Rob Lauer was among the most beloved members of the Offshore Powerboat Association family.
The news of Lauer’s passing was first reported in a July 10 post on the Offshore Powerboat Association Facebook page.
“The recipient of the 2022 Godfather award, Rob was recognized for his overall contribution to the sport,” the post read. “He was never shy about rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty. At one point or another, most of us have benefited from his kindness and warmth.
“Rob’s legacy is in good hands,” the post continued. “His sons, Matt and Joe Lauer, plan to continue the season, as Rob would have wanted. They are two of the most respectful and respectable young men you’ll come across. This was his most prestigious accomplishment—his pride and joy. Christina (Lauer’s wife) and Rob raised two wonderful human beings.
Among Lauer’s OPA extended family members was the New York-based offshore racing duo of Jason Saris and his, son, Johnny.
“Rob was by far the best human being any of us had the privilege to know,” said the younger Saris, who also wrote a beautiful tribute to Lauer on the Team Saris Performance Marine Facebook page.
The former head of the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club, former longtime Garden State local Dave Patnaude remembered Lauer in much the same way as Saris did.
“He was an amazingly kind, caring, considerate and generous man,” Patnaude said.
The passing of Lauer comes as yet another tragic loss to the Offshore Powerboat Association this season. In June, 67-year-old Louis “The Rigger” Giancontieri died of an undisclosed illness.
Said OPA president Ed “Smitty” Smith, “We’ve lost another one of the good guys.”
Rob Lauer’s personal and offshore racing legacy lives on in his sons Matt and Joe.