As expected, last Sunday’s Offshore Powerboat Association Fall River Grand Prix Massachusetts went off without a hitch. The venue has grown every year, and this weekend’s contest was no exception with Mike Lund and his whole crew at Borden Light Marina rolling out the red carpet for racers and fans all weekend.
The Smith Brothers team took home the Class 6 victory.
The racing action started at noon on Sunday with a huge Class 7 feet of 12 boats. “Right now, you guys are the biggest active class in all of offshore racing” said Ed “Smitty” Smith, the president of OPA, at the drivers meeting.
With 20- to 23-foot, outboard engine-powered boats in its ranks, Class 7 always is fun to watch, but Sunday’s action proved epic. Defending Class 7 national champions Joe and Matt Lauer had the pole on the start in their Goofin’ Around 21 Shadow entry.
The wide sweeping No. 1 and sharp-angle turns No 2 were hectic and challenging with 12 boats having to negotiate them at the start, but NJI Motorsports and Chug It came out on top with Whoa Momma close behind. A small mechanical issue took out Chug It early.
“The boat was running great—we were in the top three—then something happened and I couldn’t get over 53 mph” said Chase Muller, the Chug It team’s throttleman after the race.
If the name of the teenage throttleman sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the son of legendary and still competing throttleman Jay Muller who was running his own Wicked Racing entry in the same race before hopping into the Miss GEICO Extreme-class catamaran with Steve Curtis later in the day.
For more images from the OPA Fall River Grand Prix, check out the slideshow above. Photos courtesy/copyright Dee Ungarten/OPA.
The tight battle for the podium spots continued throughout race, but eventually Nick Imprescia—the son of retired world-class throttleman Joey Imprescia—prevailed in his 21-foot Superboat NJI Motorsports. Joe Reilly and the Whoa Momma team followed closely all day but took second. Ken Bird and his daughter, Kaleigh, finished in an impressive third place their 23-foot Kryptonite.
For Kaleigh Bird, the result was twice as sweet. Not only was it her first offshore race, she ran it with her father.
The second race of the day featured Class 6, Class 5, Class 4 and Class 2. The Class 4 rivalry between Perdition Offshore Racing and Saris Racing Engines has been heated for a few years but has been burning white-hot lately. But coming of their dominating 2017 World Championship run, Team Perdition with JJ Turk and Brian Williamson in cockpit was the Class 4 team to beat.
Ammo Camo, Perdition, Saris Racing Engines, and American Outlaw/RevX Oil went at it hard for five out of eight laps. On the fifth lap, the red flag flew as Mark Gallagher and his wife were ejected, though neither was seriously injured, from the Specialized Racing Class 5 boat during a nasty spin. Putting safety first, OPA will stop any race if occupants are in the water.
With the course cleared, the race resumed 20 minutes later. A great start gave Saris Racing Engines a good line into turn No. 1 and they never looked back, giving them the win. Perdition was hard on their tail but an unfortunate GPS breakout took them off the podium, giving American Outlaw/RevX Oil second place and Ammo Camo third. The Specialized Racing team ran uncontested in Class 5 to take the win. Jim and Bob Anselmo with Bull On The Beach took the Class 2 win in their 368 Skater.
The Class 6 action proved exciting with a tight points battle between Smith Brothers Racing and Liquid Addiction building. You Gun Learn jumped out to an early lead and held it for the entire race. But while they looked flawless on course, the GPS showed otherwise and took them out of contention. Being the only boat that didn’t break out of the category’s 70-mph speed bracket, Smith Brothers Racing took first place.
“It’s not the most exciting way to win, but sometimes you have to race smart not hard.” said Rich Smith, who throttles the boat.
Rum Runners took second place, which was great to see after all the work the team along with Brit Lilly have done to that boat recently. Liquid Addiction took third.
The last race of the day included Extreme, Supercat, SuperStock, Super Vee and Super Vee Light. The Miss GEICO cockpit duo of Steve Curtis and Jay Muller ran to an uncontested victory while putting on an awesome show. Along with them, Shadow Pirate and AMH also put on a killer exhibition, running their equipment hard for the fans lining the shore.
In the Super Vee class, Wazzup Racing with Ed “Smitty” Smith and Nick “Boomer” Smith took charge of their race against Louis Giancontieri and Johnny Stanch in Strictly Business.
“We over-propped,” said Giancontieri. “I thought it would be a lot calmer than it was.”
Despite running uncontested, the Miss GEICO cockpit duo of Steve Curtis (left) and Jay Muller put on a show for the fans.
The Tug It cockpit duo of Brit Lilly and Kevin Smith led wire to wire and dominated in the four-boat Super Vee Light class. Typhoon came in second place with Whoa Momma taking third.
“Too much prop for us today—it was way rougher out there than we thought so we just ran conservative and finished the race,” said Jay Wolthman, the throttleman for the Whoa Momma team.
Editor’s Note: Veteran offshore racer Johnny Saris covers the OPA circuit for speedonthewater.com. For complete results from the Fall River Grand Prix as they become available, visit the OPA website. Speedonthewater.com will add images to this story as they become available.
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