Yesterday’s tragic turn of events during the Offshore Powerboat Association St. Clair River Classic in Michigan hit everyone hard and got me thinking about what—in the face of the devastating loss of veteran competitor Keith Holmes—is right in the world of OPA offshore powerboat racing. And it brought to mind the members of the Lauer family who give and give for nothing in return. Rob and Christina Lauer and their sons Matt and Joey are by far one of the nicest most caring families in our sport.
Campaigned by the Lauer family, the All Fired Up racing team continues to inspire for all the right reasons. Photo courtesy/copyright Cody Edmunds/Edmunds Photography.
A perfect example of Rob Lauer’s character could be found during the 2015 Port Huron race, where the father-and-son RUFSTR team had a rollover. Throttleman Ken Salamone was in the hospital and driver E.J. Salamone, his 17-year-old son, was left with the task of piecing the boat back together, pickling the engine and getting it safe for the tow home.
Rob and the entire Lauer family jumped into action—draining the engine, filling it with diesel, the whole sunken boat scenario. Rob wasn’t alone in his efforts (Val Fiorillo and Nick Smith were a huge help) but he certainly was in charge an refused to accept a dime for his efforts.
This year in St. Clair, Rob and his son Matt ran their All Fired Up Class-5 entry to a strong second place finish in a large class. More impressive than that, Rob’s 16-year-old son Joey debuted his first-ever raceboat, a classic 21 Shadow called Goofin’ Around that he restored and rigged all on his own. Usually in a scenario like that simply finishing your first race ever is a huge accomplishment, but Joey Lauer did one better. He won.
Wicked Racing and Whoa Momma both made an error on course by missing a marker, putting Joey and driver Nick Altemeyer in the lead. For a few short laps, All Fired Up and Goofin’ Around ran next to each other. Seeing Rob, Matt and Joey Lauer all out there in boats they’ve built themselves was simply awesome.
Nothing can erase the tragedy for which the 2017 St. Clair River Classic will be forever known and remembered. But for a moment at least, the Lauer family’s performance gives all of us in the OPA family something good to cherish.
Editor’s Note: A longtime valued contributor to speedonthewater.com, Johnny Saris competes on the Offshore Powerboat Association circuit.