Offshore powerboat racing legend Billy Mauff of WHM Motorsports team fame has had his share of close-calls on the racecourse—that’s part of what comes with more than 30 years of competition and earning 18 world championship titles. But the 64-year-old’s most death-defying feat has been surviving an internal organ meltdown that left him septic and in critical condition less than two weeks ago.
Captured here during the 2021 American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., WHM Motorsports will be in the mix next month at the Race World Offshore Key West World Championships. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Out of the hospital and back at work, though not at his typical hard-driving pace, Mauff—known as “The Plumber” for his successful plumbing contracting business serving New York City—is on the mend and absolutely committed to fielding his Supercat-class team in the Race World Offshore/American Power Boat Association World Championships, Nov. 7-14 in Key West, Fla.
“WHM has been at Key West every year since there’s been a Key West,” he said. “We are going to Key West.”
What’s more, Mauff, who had 10 inches of his colon removed and has what his doctors have told him will be a temporary colostomy bag “for two or three months, depending on how I heal and the colon-section replacement surgery,” plans to be in the cockpit for at least the Wednesday and Sunday races if the water is calm. If not, he has a backup driver selected to share the cockpit of the WHM Motorsports Skater Powerboats catamaran with throttleman Jay Muller.
“The first two races are ‘half races’ and I am hoping to get some flat water for them,” he said. “Should they become rough, I already have someone picked out for my spot. I’m not ready to announce who it is, but let’s just say I raced with his father for years and I have the utmost respect for him. There’s nobody I would be more comfortable with driving my boat.”
While in the hospital, Mauff received thousands of get-well messages from offshore racing fans and his fellow competitors. That support, plus strong encouragement from his wife, June, and his doctors got him up and walking, which he credits for much of his recovery.
“You know what it’s like to try to sleep in a hospital?” he said, then laughed with his trademark East Coast cackle. “You can’t. They want to take blood at 5 a.m., your pulse at 6 a.m. and on and on. So I walked—I walked at 10 p.m., midnight, 2 a.m., 4 a.m., you know, every two hours. I walked so much that I became known as ‘The Floor Walker’ in the hospital.
“I have had people sending me get well messages like, ‘I have watched you race since you were 17 years old’ and ‘I’ve watched WHM like a billion times,’ ” he continued. “You’re only in this world for a visit and you don’t know long it will be. I was so septic I should be dead. So WHM will be in Key West this year to support our fans and friends and the racing community.”
Informed of Mauff’s plans, Supercat-class M CON team owner Tyler Miler was delighted. The 2021 season has been challenging for the class, and having WHM Motorsports competing in Key West will end the Supercat season on a positive note.
“As the saying goes, ‘you can’t keep a good man down,’ ” Miller said. “In my opinion, that is the definition of Billy Mauff. The kindness, enthusiasm and talent he brings to his life and offshore racing is unmatched. We pray for his continued recovery. And knowing Billy and the entire WHM team, if there’s a will there’s a way and we are behind them 110 percent.
“Except for during the races,” he added, then laughed.