great story. I can't wait for the next installment, when it is with you and you are bringing it back to a usable state. good luck
The 1983 StillCrazy 30' Velocity is getting a new lease on life
There is a pretty lengthy backstory on how this is all coming about, but I'll try my best to make sense...
My uncle was Mike Poppa, who raced the StillCrazy Velocity back in the day and died in the 1985 Key West World Championship racing the 38 Cougar Cat StillCrazy. Mike had a one year old son when he died (also named Mike) who has been like a brother to me my whole life. After the accident, my family pretty much turned off the high performance boat faucet and have had nothing to do with it or racing since. However, Mike and I have always been totally fascinated by the boats and had a never-ending drive to somehow get back involved one day. We've been watching boats race and going to boat shows for as long as I can remember (I hadn't missed a Suncoast Offshore race in over 15 years until this year for a family reunion). You develop one heck of a desire to get on a fast boat by standing on the sidelines, watching for 20 plus years, yet we just could never seem to make it happen.
Another side-effect of going through a family tragedy and being separated from high performance boating and racing was that no one in the family really ever talked about it or told stories of what it was like in the past, how Mike's dad got involved in racing, or why he had such a passion for it. This resulted in a need for Mike, his sister Kelly and myself to find out more, talk to people that knew him or raced with or against him and get those stories. Back in 2005, Kelly stumbled across this unbelievable resource called OffshoreOnly.com and opened up a thread...
Mike Poppa - 1985
The response and information that members gave was truly amazing and really opened up the possibilities for finding out more. Later that year another member posted photos of the StillCrazy Velocity they found in a yard on the east coast. None of us could believe the boat still existed, let alone still had the StillCrazy paint job and all the original hardware. Although the boat was in rough shape, it instantly became a dream of ours to someday get it back and restore it to glory.
In 2007, Mike had graduated from College and moved down to Naples to live with me and my wife. We went to the 2008 Miami boat show in hopes of meeting Steve Stepp, who we found out built the StillCrazy Velocity and actually raced it with Dick Fullam and Mike's dad. While we had high hopes for the encounter, the actual experience surpassed it and more. When we walked up to the Velocity booth inside the convention center I immediately noticed the huge banner hanging above...with none other than the StillCrazy Velocity picture on it, the same picture that Mike and I had see over and over again going through boxes of old family records.
What followed was a two hour long conversation with Steve, his wife Kim and daughter Amanda that included laughs and tears, stories of victories and mishaps, and getting lost out on the race course! Surely it was an experience that I will never forget and one that Mike will treasure for the rest of his life. Later that year we were able to hook up again with Steve and Kim in Key West for the World Championships and finally accomplish what we had been waiting so long for...to get on a high performance boat. Steve took us out for a blast around Key West in his beautiful yellow 41 footer. With grins from ear to ear the whole time our faces literally hurt from smiling so much. The speed, power, sound, smell and adrenaline were intoxicating. We were hooked...line and sinker.
Fast Forward two years of ups, downs, hard work and we were still wanting more than ever to somehow get a boat. I was on the internet and decided to search StillCrazy, which I’d do regularly a couple times a year to see if any new info would show up. One of the first results was the OffshoreOnly thread where StillCrazy had been found. Kelly had mentioned some time back that StillCrazy had been sold and the new owner’s info was on the thread, but I hadn’t made time to look into it further. This time however, I wasn’t putting it off and knew that I was in a position that I could possibly get StillCrazy back. I immediately sent an email to Cadillac McDaniel and the wheels were turning. If you’re one of the 100 people in America that don’t know Cadillac, perhaps someday you’ll be lucky enough to come across him. He has an incredible personality, is a first-class story teller and is just an all around nice human being. We quickly set up a day that Mike and I could make the trip over to Cadillac’s place and touch the boat that Mike’s dad had raced in 26 years ago.
The drive over seemed to last forever because of the anticipation and the moment we pulled into Cadillac’s driveway and caught just a glimpse of StillCrazy was surreal to say the least.
Soon we were climbing all over the boat, the experience made more special by the fact that everything on the boat was still original…the throttles, the steering wheel, gauges, the bolster that once held Mike’s dad…another moment neither of us will ever forget.
Mike and I knew instantly that we had to get the boat. Cadillac could have told me he wanted my right leg for it and I would have tried to make it happen, lucky for me he’s such a good person and reasonable business man. I told him we’d take it and arrange a date to either have him deliver it, or pick it up. He couldn’t have been happier to find a buyer he knew would preserve the character and history of the boat and not chop it up to make a fishboat or cruiser.
great story. I can't wait for the next installment, when it is with you and you are bringing it back to a usable state. good luck
Amazing story, glad it went to the right people. Things may get a little tough doing the resto, but it will be all worth it.
Wow, great story. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to any updates.
Thats awsome, there are a lot of people in sw florida that would help put it back together. Hope to see it on a Fort Myers Offshore fun run soon.
Congrats on the re-acquisition of Still Crazy! I came within inches of purchasing the boat about six years ago, while she sat abandoned and unloved in the Pompano Beach storage yard. My plan was to restore her to original condition, in a tribute to her history.
About six months ago, when Caddy told me he had purchased her, I was thrilled to know that someone "in the family" wound up with her. When he told me that he had sold the boat to you, I was even happier.
Best of luck with the project, and I look forward to seeing the boat on the water someday soon!
What a great story...
Can't wait for this one!!!
With great power, comes great responsibility.
We made the deal official the weekend of OFF 2010, a get-together for old boat racers of all kind. Mike and I figured it would be perfect as we could pay for the boat, but also get a rare opportunity to talk to other racers and figures of the boating industry that were around in the 70’s and 80’s and could have known Mike Poppa or StillCrazy. The experience didn’t disappoint as we would have been happy as flies on a wall listening to the stories, but instead were actively engaged in conversation, introduced to many by Cadillac and even introduced by the announcer as the new owners of StillCrazy during the festivities. One of the great people we were fortunate enough to meet was John Pompi, owner of Marine Performance in Port Orange, FL. John is one of the most talented and respected riggers in the performance boat industry and has spent the better part of three decades designing and implementing the rigging on some of the baddest boats on the planet. He was kind enough to take time out of the festivities and crawl all over StillCrazy, giving advice and guidance on what to do and to look out for. We got his contact info and planned on keeping him in mind when it came time to rig the boat. Little did we know we’d be seeing him much sooner! Right before leaving we were lucky enough to run into Scotty B from Geico and had a great time picking his brain. He has a great respect for the history of offshore racing and is first and foremost, a fan of the sport. Hopefully we’ll get to hook up with him sometime in the future.
This past weekend came the day we had been waiting on for so long…boat owners at last! I lucked into finding a great used Eagle trailer up in Cape Coral during the week, which allowed us to go pick up the boat. Cadillac had also contacted me earlier in the week and let me know that John Pompi had called him after the OFF event and told him he was interested in helping us out in any way he could. Although Mike and I have been around boats our whole lives, they were all fishing boats, ski boats or jetski’s, nothing to do with high performance boats. I welcomed any help we could get and made plans to pick up StillCrazy at Cadillac’s and tow it up to Port Orange, where John would help us de-rig it in preparation for the fiberglass work needed to get it back into shape. We left Naples at 6:00am Saturday, loaded the boat on to the trailer at Cadillac’s with no problem (he’s got all the right tools) and pulled in to Marine Performance by 1:30pm ready to get to work (of course after we drooled all over his shop and the 46 Skater there).
John set us up with a tray full of tools, air line, screw gun and started directing. Like two little worker bees, we went to town taking off all the corroded hardware, wiring, gauges, anything and everything that was installed on the boat…saving everything to inventory and to see what we can possibly re-use.
I didn’t mention the plan yet, but the idea is to fully restore StillCrazy to perfect running condition and appearance keeping as many original items as possible, but upgrading a few things like drives and rigging in the interest of reliability. StillCrazy was never meant to look pretty and sit on a trailer in a garage…it was meant to run with the waves, engines roaring and props barking. We want to run the boat, run it in poker runs we’ve always read about and seen pictures of, run it to the keys, to bimini, take people on rides…give it the life all old race boats should have.
While we were working on the de-rig, John’s old friend Chris Dilling showed up (of Grafik EFX, one of the most talented graphics designers and painters in the world) to check out the boat. John had mentioned our story and what we were trying to do with the boat and he wanted to meet us, look at the boat and see what he could do to help make it all a reality. He’s painted some of the coolest, most successful racing boats in history, so it really was an honor to meet him and really unbelievable that these world-class, talented individuals seem to be coming out of the woodwork to do what they can to help bring StillCrazy back to life, and our dream to reality. Chris stayed all day and into the night as John showcased his bbq skills. Mike and I were like sponges asking John and Chris every question about boats under the sun and then trying to absorb as much as possible. To top it all off, John even offered to let us stay on his couch, which we promptly accepted and headed for, satisfied with the progress from Day 1 and amazed at the generosity we’d been shown all day.
Day 2 started off great with bacon and eggs – eggs straight from John’s own chickens! After breakfast, we launched right back into the boat - Mike working on the gauges and wiring and John and I wrestling with removing the old #3 gimbals and transom plates. They certainly didn’t want to come out without a battle, but John would not accept defeat and the corrosion from spending 26 years on the back of that transom finally succumbed to the heat from John’s torch and the torque from the two foot long pipe wrench in my hand. After removing the last of the hardware, we cleaned the engine room and cabin area, then finished the day taking out the cockpit floor panel and fuel tank. All-in-all it was two of the most rewarding days I’ve ever spent working on anything. It’s hard to put into words how much restoring StillCrazy means to me and Mike, so suffice it to say it was just awesome and two days closer to making our dream a reality.
So what’s in store next for StillCrazy? None other than Steve Stepp from Velocity Powerboats picked the boat up from Marine Performance on Thursday and brought it over to the Velocity factory in Sanford. Steve not only built the Velocity, The Intimidator that Mike Poppa previously raced in P-Class, he also built and raced StillCrazy originally. It is truly a dream, and certainly fitting that he will be working on the boat, erasing the ravages of time and getting StillCrazy ready to race through the waves once again.
I will be heading up to Sanford Saturday to get the gameplan for phase II together with Steve (unfortunately Mike has to work). This is certainly going to be a process, albeit a rewarding one, and a challenge financially. If anyone has advice, or would like to be a part of the project, we’d welcome any response we can get.
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