“We’re not big on ‘Hallmark Holidays,’ but if you asked me, ‘What would be the best way to spend Father’s Day?’ duh, this is it,” said Jason Saris after throttling to his third Atlantic City Veterans Offshore Grand Prix Class 400 victory yesterday in the Saris Racing Engines V-bottom with his son/driver, Johnny, and navigator Verne French.
“I get too jittery before a race to think about anything else,” the younger Saris added after wishing his dad a Happy Father’s Day.
Said Johnny Saris of yesterday’s contest, “It was our toughest race yet.” Photos courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey-Images.
Most observers here in this seaside resort were surprised that the event, which was sanctioned by the Offshore Powerboat Association, came off at all as bad storms with high winds moved through the area overnight and daybreak saw rain and dense fog reducing visibility to less than an eighth of a mile. But by mid-morning the skies were clearing and the race was on, albeit with some extreme water conditions.
‘We got a lot of air—stood it up a couple of times,” French said of the six-foot seas and offshore winds. “It was a lot of fun for being rough.”
Added Johnny Saris, “It was our toughest race yet.”
Another father/son success story out of Atlantic City is that of EJ and Ken Salamone of the RUFSTR team. Last year in AC, the pair made its offshore racing debut and hoped to have a respectable showing. The Salamones ended up placing third, and then appeared on the podium in every race they entered for the balance of the season. This year, the team took the Class 500 checkered flag after winning it all at the Barnegat Bay Grand Prix last month.
“EJ really came into his own today, really dictated a lot of this race,” said Ken Salamone. “It was the hardest race we’ve had, and he just gets better every race.”
“This is the first race we’ve done twice, so I had an idea of what to expect from last year,” his son added. “A bunch of boats started to break to the outside and dad was telling me to move out. But I had my heading, and I knew where the buoy was and where I wanted to take it.”
After finishing third in their class last year in the Atlantic City event, the father-and-son RUFSTR team took first place yesterday.
Since last year in Atlantic City, 18-year-old EJ Salamone has graduated high school and will start college in the fall.
“It was pretty special winning this on Father’s Day, sure,” EJ said. “But it’s special every time I get into the boat with my dad. And winning just makes it that much better.”
This year’s Atlantic City Veterans Offshore Grand Prix paid tribute to legendary offshore racer Charlie Marks, naming him Honorary Race Director. Marks, the first African-American offshore racer, won his first race in Atlantic City with the legendary Bobby Moore in 1989.
And additional honors went to photographer Tim Sharkey, of Sharkey Images and speedonthewater.com, who was presented the first-ever ‘Reese Lewis Spirit Award,’ given to an individual who contributes to the success of the Offshore Grand Prix.
Editor’s note: Complete results from Atlantic City Veterans Offshore Grand Prix Results will be posted on the OPA website.