Sunday’s unexpected death of 47-year-old Chris Reindl of Reindl Powerboats and Ultimate Boat Racing Experiences, LLC, has been a tough blow for his friends and extended family in the offshore racing community. Reindl, who resided in Las Vegas, reportedly stayed the night at his sister’s home in the Cincinnati area and simply did not wake up. His cause of death has not been released.
More than an offshore racer in the Bracket-class ranks, Reindl was a pied-piper for the sport itself. With 24-foot canopied “Bat Boats” powered by single Ilmor Marine engines in his fleet, he created a raceboat rental program that enabled newcomers to experience the thrill of offshore racing without having to make a significant investment.
Reindl didn’t get rich in the raceboat-rental business, but his program enriched the sport.
“Chris was always a great promoter and a competitor in offshore—he and I talked weekly,” said Micheal Stancombe, a veteran offshore racer and longtime Reindl friend who lives in Southwest Florida. “On and off the course Chris promoted and brought new people into the sport. He was always kind and giving. We will miss him at the races for a very long time.”
Joe Malich, who raced with Reindl and had boat business dealings with him, agreed.
“Chris was a stand-up guy with a larger-than-life personality,” said the Washington-based competitor and boat broker. “His main passion was introducing people to racing via the ‘Bat Boat,’ a unique style V-bottom that is a blast to drive. Chris brought many people into the race circuit that would never have had the chance.”
Earlier this month, Reindl ran one of his own boats at the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in Sarasota, Fla., alongside driver Mack McKeand. They finished third in what would be Rendl’s final race.
“The last race,” McKeand posted on his Facebook with this picture of Reindl and him together. “This is a photo of my great friend, Chris Reindl. He passed away barely a week after this photo was taken. He was loved by virtually all that crossed his path. He was a giant in the world of offshore powerboat racing making dreams come true for many including myself. He lived large and had a life that was uncompromised. I will miss him dearly. Carpe Diem.”
Reaction to Reindl’s death was widespread in the offshore racing world.
“It was devastating to hear about the passing of my friend, Chris,” said Kurt Jagel, a former offshore racer now living in Las Vegas. “Whether he was racing in the ocean or at the poker tables, Chris was always all in. This is a sad loss for his friends and this sport.”
Perhaps no one in the offshore racing community was more devastated by the loss than Ricky Amos, who had entered the sport through Reindl’s raceboat program and hung out with him at LOTO Powerfest on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks in early June. The two racers were gearing up for next month’s Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.
“Chris and I were super-good friends; I can’t even think straight right now,” said Amos, “Seriously, Chris taught me everything I know about racing starting with when we did the Shootout with him almost 10 years now. And when we started our own race team, he supported us 100 percent.”
Ilmor Marine’s Paul Ray got to know Reindl through his rental raceboat program as the company supplied power for the 24-footers. He recalled Reindl as an enthusiastic and dedicated member of not just offshore racing, but the close-knit community it fostered.
“Chris was an amazing person with a passion for his family, his team, and most importantly, the boating community,” Ray explained. “His drive and desire to educate others about the joys of boating and especially the performance industry led to a wonderful partnership between Chris and the whole Ilmor team.
“Throughout countless hours of collaboration, challenges, and years of working side by side, Chris’s integrity could be relied upon every time,” he continued. “He had an infectious spirit and enthusiasm that touched the hearts of everyone he encountered.”
Ed Smith, the president of the Offshore Powerboat Association, knew Reindl for more than 20 years. Smith remembered him as one of the sport’s more colorful and passionate characters.
Reindl helped many offshore racers create memories of a lifetime.
“He was always up to something,” he recalled, then chuckled. “I remember Orange Beach (Ala.) in the Super Boat International days. His boat took off running around the wet pits all by itself. (SBI head) John Carbonell wanted to kill him. In Point Pleasant Beach (N.J.), I had to get the beach patrol and beach crane to get him off the beach. At the East Lake Ohio race he mistook the travel-lift area for a ramp and backed his boat off the edge. The most memorable, though, was his record attempt with his Tesla-powered Bat Boat in Englewood Beach, Fla. It caught fire and sank. I think it’s still down there burning its way to China.
“All and all, his undying love for the sport kept him going,” Smith added. “So many times I wanted to wring his neck. But he had that smile and attitude I could not resist. Rest well, my friend, God’s speed.”
Amos wasn’t sure what to think about life without Reindl.
“We were planning something kind of special for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout this year so that makes this news even harder to swallow,” Amos said. “Everyone knew Chris and he was the life of the party. I think I’ve met everyone I know in this sport through him.
“And I know I’m not the only one he’s helped guide in this racing world,” he added.
Editor’s note: Reindl’s celebration of life arrangements have been made. A viewing will take place Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Tufts Schildmeyer, which is located at 129 Riverside Drive in Loveland, Ohio. A mass will be held at Good Shepard—8815 East Kemper Road, Cincinnati, Ohio—on Friday at 10 a.m.
Paul Ray’s comments were added after the original version of this story went live.
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