For diehard offshore racing fans, the 27-day wait between the July 3 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in Southwest Florida and the July 31 St. Clair River Classic in Michigan is a long one. In fact, it’s the longest gap of the regular season between contests in the eight-race American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championships Series.
With a win at the APBA series season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and a second-place finish at the Lake Race at the Lake of the Ozarks, the Jackhammer team heads into the St Clair River Classic with strong momentum. Photos courtesy/copy Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Photos and Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
With the Offshore Powerboat Association-produced St. Clair event on neither the eight-race Union International Motonautique Class 1 World Championship Series nor the internal Super Cat class schedule, the Super Stock category, Bracket classes and the Mod V and Stock classes will carry the entertainment load.
Super Stock class representative Ryan Beckley said he expects 11 or 12 to teams to make the St. Clair race, despite solo wrecks in the Sarasota contest that left two boats in need of repair and one completely destroyed.
“There’ll be a couple ‘new faces’ as two teams will have different boats after their crashes in Sarasota, and the Phase 5 team is coming back,” said Beckley. “I think there will be ‘new’ boats added at each race the rest of the year.
“Hopefully everyone can start to run smarter and these guys can quit wrecking their equipment,” he added. “I believe there will be 16 to 18 Super Stock boats in Key West.”
Manned by Julian Maldonado and Brian Guy, another team under the Jackhammer umbrella is looking strong in the Bracket 700 ranks.
With most Bracket-class teams based in the Northeast, the St. Clair venue always attracts a solid fleet in those classes. Among the battles to watch, according to Bracket 400-class veteran Johnny Saris, should be between the Goofin’ Around team of brothers Matt and Joe Lauer and Julian Maldonado and Brian Guy of the Jackhammer team. Also worth paying close attention will be the head-to-head Bracket 500 contest between Shoreline Plumbing and Mean Streak.
Though Kevin Smith of the defending APBA Stock-V world champion LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness team said he and LSB teammate Brit Lilly aren’t running in the single-engine V-bottom category, Chris Uzzolina of the Nobody’s Business team said he believe five or six Stock V-class teams with take the green flag in St. Clair.
The Mod-V-class—the more powerful version of Stock V—likely will attract six to seven teams in the category. The St. Clair River Classic is a “money race” for Mod-V competitors, said Stephen Kildahl of the Sarasota, Fla.-based, defending APBA world champion Boatfloater.com team.
“At the end of the money-race series, first place gets $50,000, second place gets $25,000 and third place gets $12,000, I think,” said Kildahl, who will be joined in the cockpit by his father, Steve. “We won $50,000 last year. As my dad says, you never see checks like that in offshore racing.”
Steve and Stephen Kildahl of Boatfloater.com will be working hard to earn another big-money Mod-V finish in St. Clair.
Asked which Mod V teams will make the podium in St. Clair, Kildahl pointed to class parity on what should be a flat-water course.
“Honestly, as I always say everyone’s fast especially in calmer water like St Clair,” he explained. “It just depends on who picks the right setup. But based on the Lake Race, I can say that Marker 17 and Punisher are fast.”
Mean Streak and Shoreline Plumbing are looking like the teams to beat in the Bracket 500 class.
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