Longtime offshore racing fans, especially those in Southwest Florida, will remember the Black Pearl offshore racing team, which competed in Super Boat International Super Vee-class competition from 2003 to 2007. Dave Peterson, the 40-foot Fountain V-bottom’s original owner and throttleman died on September 3 after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 55 years old.
Though it was eventually adapted for pleasure use—and Manufacturer Production 3-class competition—with an open cockpit, the Black Pearl raceboat began its life as Dave Peterson’s canopied Super Vee-class raceboat. Photo from the 2015 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
A fellow Sarasota resident, Dr. Gary Easterling joined Peterson in the cockpit of the Black Pearl in his rookie year. Though their cockpit pairing lasted half a season, their friendship thrived in the years that followed.
“David was one of the most reasonable, helpful people you could ever talk to,” Easterling said, then laughed. “He was kind of quiet until you got him out with the offshore racing crew. Then he could get kind of crazy.
“I considered him to be my best friend,” he continued. “Our wives were close friends—we have daughters about the same age. The last two years have been hard.”
Dave Peterson (right) and Dr. Gary Easterling teamed up in the Black Pearl for half of its first season and remained close friends.
Though he stopped racing in 2007 and eventually sold the boat to fellow offshore racer Gary Jones, who ran it in the Manufacturer Production 3 class, Peterson stayed involved in the sport, most notably with offshore racing veteran Billy Glueck of Twisted Metal team fame as a backup driver and crew member. The two also became close friends off the racecourse.
“We all hung out together, Dave, Gary and me,” said Glueck. “Dave was a very even-keeled individual and he was willing to get up and help anyone as long as he was a decent person. He drove my rig and hauled my stuff all over the damn country.”
Glueck paused to chuckle. “Dave never raised his voice,” he said. “He could be on the verge of punching you in the face and you’d never know it unless you were one of his close friends.”
Through her work producing the annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival, Suncoast Charities For Children executive director Lucy Nicandri came to know and rely on Peterson for help with the event whenever and wherever she needed it.
Peterson became a backup driver and crew member for Billy Glueck’s Twisted Metal team. Photo from the 2016 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“Dave was one of those guys with a huge heart, always helping others and pitching in,” she said. “When he wasn’t in a boat racing, he was a part of our local race committee and water support team for many years. It was an honor and privilege to know him. I learned a lot from Dave. He will be greatly missed.”
A formal service for Peterson is planned for Saturday, September 12 at 1 p.m. at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic Church in Venice, Fla. A Celebration of Life event will follow at the Plantation Golf Club from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Peterson’s family has requested that in lieu of flowers memorial donations in his honor be made to Suncoast Charities for Children.
Editor’s Note: The Celebration of Life event times have been changed since this story went live.