There are people we know—and people in the know. Every so often, we come across such a person. They speak from experience and with authority. They look you in the eye, present the facts and share their opinions. They are interesting, entertaining and at times controversial.
Rich Luhrs is one of those rare people.
“We are all richer for knowing Rich.” Photo courtesy/copyright Mark Rotharmel.
On August 9, 2014, at the Clayton, N.Y. Antique Race Boat Regatta, Rich Luhrs, one of boat racing’s most knowledgeable and articulate spokesmen, was presented with the American Powerboat Boat Associaton Vintage Division’s “Legends of Racing” award, an honor reserved for those who have contributed significantly to the sport.
Many claim that Luhrs has forgotten more than most people will ever know, and that’s true. He raced boats, built boats and to this day promotes the sport of powerboat racing as an active, passionate participant. He’s a fine and well-recognized storyteller, as well as the proud owner of four vintage racing machines.
That Luhrs has a penchant for lightweight, two-stroke outboard engine-powered OPC boats is certainly no secret. As the creator and founding chairman of Vintage Racing’s “Those Damn Outboards,” he makes it perfectly clear where his heart resides. He’s raced single and twin engine V-bottoms, tunnel boats and offshore hulls since the 1960s.
Faithful to the Mercury brand, Luhrs competed in sprints and marathons on both sides of the border and is a member of the National Powerboat Association Hall of Fame. While racing, he walked the talk and—following a successful driving career—went on to “talk” even more.
As a respected color commentator for ESPN, Speed and other North American Television channels, Rich’s “tell it like it is” style entertained offshore racing fans throughout the world. Whether stepping into a broadcast booth or strapping himself into the front seat of a helicopter, he always brought with him a “bag of truth” of wonderful stories and thoughts he collected for decades.
Ask Luhrs a question and you will get an immediate answer— straight up and unfiltered. If he can share a quick story, he will. If there’s a point to be made, he makes it.
Luhrs cut his teeth racing Glastrons, Power Cats, Alisons, Miles Masters and Molinaris. He owned and/or built boat companies such Image, The Jersey Challenger, Shadow—the brand for which he is best known—and Conquest He enjoys every opportunity to talk about powerboat racing’s rich history. That he can instantly recall most every day and adventure that he shared with other motorsport greats makes us all “richer for knowing Rich.”
Editor’s Note: Author Mark Rotharmel has known Rich Luhrs for more than 30 years. Congratulations, Mr. Luhrs, from Jason Johnson and Matt Trulio at speedonthewater.com on your most recent honor.