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OPA Lake Hopatcong Grand Prix Delivers For Racers And Fans

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Wazzup was a winner in the Super Vee class. Photos courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

Located 40 miles west of New York City, Lake Hopatcong—the second-to-last stop on the 2016 Offshore Powerboat Association circuit—is “home water” for multi-class offshore racing world champion throttleman Jay Muller. And Muller made sure that all the details were covered and everything was right where it should be for the racers and their fans for yesterday’s contest.

The rolling hills of the New Jersey Highlands and were the perfect backdrop for the race and the short, intricate 2.3-mile course including a dogleg on the back straight to keep things interesting. (The racers nicknamed it the “Bristol Motor Speedway of the Water.”) There were six races throughout the day including a local class for Pontoons in the morning—and everything started on time.

Class 7 had eight boats including three starting their first race and Muller’s sons, Chase and Jax, in Chug It, a 22-foot Velocity. On a Mission jumped out to the early lead and never looked back. Ken Bird (owner/throttleman) was concerned with how the boat was going to corner in the tight turns but after moving some weight around they lead from start to finish. The battle for the top three spots caught everyone’s attention. Done Deal was in second with Hanging and Banging in third and Bay Rat in fourth.

On the second lap between turns one and two Hanging and Banging spun out putting them out of the top five. They managed to keep the boat running and would eventually finish in fourth. Now the battle was on for second with Done Deal and Bay Rat. Bay Rat would eventually move past Done Deal with a few laps remaining. Once the GPS units were downloaded and read they told a different story. On A Mission broke out of the speed bracket (60 mph) handing the win over to Bay Rat. Done Deal finished second and Hanging and Banging, which recovered from a nasty spinout, moved up to third.

In Class 6 You Gun Learn and Smith Brothers were in a very tight battle for the national championship. The two teams have been trading wins all season long and were only separated by 21 points. Smith Brothers was confident they could get out front which is what they needed in order to keep the national championship in range. Unfortunately, the day did not go as planned for the Smiths as the team was plagued with computer issues from the moment the boat hit the water. After temporally fixing the problem the team finally made it on the course but only completed a half a lap handing the win over to You Gun Learn. Early Detection and Liquid Addiction rounded out the top three.

For more Tim Sharkey images from the Lake Hopatcong Grand Prix, check out the slideshow above.

The most dramatic finish of the day happened in Class 5 with 11 boats in the fleet. Wazzup II had no issues as they jumped out early, leading every lap until the final straight away approaching the checked flag. With about one hundred feet to go the team ran out of gas handing the win over to Coastal Boat Sales. While Wazzup II ran a near-perfect race, Coastal Boat Sales worked very hard for the win. The hung right with Wazzup II hoping something would happen. As they exited Turn 4 they could see Wazzup II coming to a stop taking the checkered flag for the second race in a row. Reinforcer and Whoa Mamma III came in second and third.

Class 4 featured a neck and neck battle between Saris Racing Engines and Perdition, who was debuting a new driver this weekend. Perdition had the inside lane at the start and were not going to give it up. Eventually Team Saris managed to get around on the outside, but it wasn’t easy. Brian Williamson and Joe Connally looked like they had been running together for years in the Perdition 34 Phantom. Jay and Chase Muller also ran in Class 4 in their Cobra cat but had to retire early due to a drive issue.

Super Vee light was the only spec class in attendance and also had two of the best stories of the weekend. First was the dominating performance by Whoa Mamma. Jay and Kyle ran a near perfect race which is great considering they are still dialing the boat in. The team spun out in Fall River and were a little concerned the same might happen again. The boat was both loose and fast but looked great leading from start to finish beating some of the best teams in the class. Look for great things from Whoa Mamma as they get more comfortable with the boat.

For additional action from the event, check out the slideshow above from photographer Cody Edmunds. Photos coutesy/copyright Cody Edmunds/Edmunds Photography.

Second was the triumphant return of Tug It Racing. A team known for crazy antics and great racing made their only appearance for the 2016 season at Lake Hopatcong as Team Owner Kevin Smith recovers from back surgery. Jay Muller would throttle the boat while Kevin drove.

This duo had only done that one other time in Englewood Beach, Fla. last year so they took some extra time to test the week prior. They kept Whoa Mamma in check the entire race never falling more than a boat length or two behind the entire race. In the end they were very pleased with second and were happy for Who Mamma. Brit Lilly drove Typhoon for third and We Haul Boats finished fourth having a weekend they would soon like to forget.

OPA Lake Hopatcong Grand Prix Results

Class 1—Lightning Jacks
Class 2—BatMan Racing
Super Vee—Wazzup
Super Vee Light—Whoa Momma
Class 4—Saris Racing Engines
Class 5—Coastal Boat Sales
Class 6—You Gun Learn
Class 7—Bay Rat

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