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OPA hits the Jackpot in A/C - the full story

Old 07-21-2003, 10:45 AM
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Default OPA hits the Jackpot in A/C - the full story

Some offshore races are more exciting than others, sometimes it's the water, sometimes it's the location, sometimes it's the racing action and rarely do all of these ingredients come together to make an outstanding event. Today the universe aligned and everything came together. This was the first Offshore Powerboat race to stir the waters off Atlantic City since 1993. Twenty eight hard charging teams ran balls to the walls in their quest to take home their share of the $25,000 purse. OPA ( only runs the five P classes and each class had the same payout. $3000 for first place, second nets $1250 and third is good for $750.

Today was one of those spectacular summer days that you dream about all winter long. A soft ocean breeze, 83 degrees, a cloudless deep blue sky and very low humidity. The basin waters around the wet pits took on a beautiful blue-green color as the super wide inlet allows for the ocean to flush the entire bay and basin around Trumps twice a day.

As you'll learn by reading my articles in this magazine, my involvement with OPA runs deep. My job as Director of Water Operations and race official puts me right at the heart of the race. One of the best parts of my job is getting the opportunity to go on all types of go fast boats. My ride for today as Pace Boat 2 was Allen Bengelsdorf's 2002 41' Avanti with enough power to push it into the low 80s.

We used Trumps Marina as the wet pit area for the race and Gartners basin as the launch area and dry pits. This provided a world class racing venue and a party the night before the race that was absolutely first class. An outdoor deck, a live band and a star filled sky hanging over the finest fleet of yachts to be found anywhere in New Jersey. With Trumps Hotel and Marina right on the Atlantic City inlet, the location could not be better.

At 12:30, with the racecourse established and Angel One in the air we took the fleet of boats out of the inlet at about 65MPH to be greeted by an extremely calm ocean. Not a rolling swell in sight. As we came through the inlet we had The King Vee of the Hudson River Poker Run, Scott Applegate in his rip-roaring 42 Outerlimits called Just Trucking. With the two pace boats in the lead we roared out the inlet and turn south to find the race course well defined and awaiting the race boats to bring it alive. We quickly fell into our respective milling areas. The smoke flare was set off and one minute later, Scott headed down the beach with the P1, P2 and P3 boats in tow. Once the referee on Pace Boat 1 gave the green flag, we started to move out of our mill and head toward the beach. We had 18 boats to our port side, jockeying for position as we held the yellow for a long run down the beach. Finally we raised the green flag and the racers took off on their journey around the 4.5-mile track.

After the first lap it was the Frank and Shorty Shultz 37' Hustler Cat Scrap Attack that came tearing down the beach with the other three P1 boats in tow. After the third lap the Hustler cat seemed to get declawed as it slowed to a more leisurely pace. This left the other P1 boats to duke it out. The 32' Skater Relentless, complete with new canopies, and five point harnesses allowed the father and son team Ernie Tretola Sr. and Jr. to run the boat as it should be run, out on the edge and flying. Al Rullo, Jason Saris and Joe Connelly finally took the shrink-wrap off their 36 Spectre Cat Stylin from the 1999 Worlds in Key West. The boat hadn't changed a bit and they picked up right where they left off several years ago. Jason Muller and Grant Bringgemann left the Brioschi SuperCat at the shop and brought out their smaller 36' Cobra Cat. These three boats ran within 100 yards of each other for 90% of the race. They must have swapped the lead 4 or 5 times over the 18 laps that the P1 boats needed to run to complete the race. Near the end of the race, Relentless and Brioschi came around and Stylin who had been in the lead was nowhere in sight. Then they came up flying up the back stretch looking like nothing happened. What had happened what a violent spin out at turn #1 on the south end of the course that shut down the engines but didn't roll it over. They restarted and joined the hunt. Brioschi pull off the course victorious with Relentless right next to them. Stylin went around a few more times with Scrap Attack who was still running but way off the pace.

The P2 fleet probably raced here in 1993 against each other just as they did today. Three identical 41 Apache's all powered with Stotler 1000HP blower motors and #6 drives with crash boxes. What a race this was!!! The P1 cats came around and just 200 yards back came the three big wave eaters. I can't even tell you who was in the lead. They would swap the lead as they went around the corners, and then swap back along the straight-aways.

Bob Oliver and with engine maestro Herb Stotler on the sticks were looking for a triple header in Firewater as they won the last two OPA races in class and overall. Today the water was rather calm, no rollers to speak of so the cats finally got to fly past Bobs big Apache. Frank Kerbeck and Al Chassaion brought Island Runner back into racing condition and came out to give Firewater hell. Between Island Runner and Red Hot with Ed Stella, Jimmy McIntyre and Ed Toth aboard, Firewater had their hands full. Halfway through the race, one of Firewater's engines lost oil pressure and they called it a day. This left Island Runner and Red Hot to continue the tribal wars. The north end of the course near the inlet was starting to get snotty as a huge spectator fleet had gathered and their wakes, combined with the change of tide at the inlet and the race boat wakes made for a nice soup around turns 3 and 4. So much so that Island Runner rolled to the outside around turn 3 and ejected its navigator. Within seconds a medic boat scooped him out of the water and the racing continued without hesitation. Island Runner's day was over and Red Hot went on to take the well deserved win.

At the same time, the P5 boat Friendship 1 with Joe Iglio and Frank Balish onboard had an abrupt end to their racing day as they stuffed the little 24 Pantera pretty hard and stalled the boat in the middle of the racecourse. We saw the incident and Pace Boat 2 responded to get them out of the racecourse. With our yellow flag up we protected the little boat from oncoming traffic as some of the other boats came zipping by our stern. We quickly took the boat in tow and dragged it into the infield. Again the race continued without interruption.

The hard chargers of the P3 fleet included 4 very competitive entries, all who would not be denied a checkered flag. After the first lap the new 38' Bad Boy name Bad Boy Goose for football player Tony Siragusa's involvement with the team ran down the beach in the lead with Kurt Berger on the sticks and John Malone at the wheel. Hot on their heals was Wazzup in their World Champion 31' Viper, Wanted Racing a 39 Kryptonite and Diamond Dave Racing in their 38 Cig Gladiator. Even after three laps of racing, these four boats were on top of each other. These teams were very evenly matched.

The third time down the beach the big Kryptonite with Mark Henderson and Bill Purnell at the helm had the lead by inches with the twisted team father son team of Eddie and Anthony Smith in Wazzup breathing fire on Team Wanted's stern. Team Wanted needed to stay really hot going into turn 1 or he would need to give up the lane to Wazzup. Mark tried to bring the multiple step Kryptonite around the corner but there wasn't enough lateral support to sustain the G load that ending up making the Kryptonite swap ends as it rounded the turn. Wazzup snuck to the inside while the Bad Boy needed to take evasive action not to plow into the side of the spinning boat. Fortunately Diamond Dave Racing made by too and the hull was unharmed. Wanted was able to restart and get back up to racing speed in an attempt to chase down the leaders. There was some post race talk that this team might be carrying a roll of toilet paper with them from now on…to help clean up the mess that these types spinouts can cause.

In the end Diamond Dave made a run at it but Wazzup was just too much to handle. The checkered flag belonged to Wazzup, with Diamond Dave and Val Fiorillo in second and the Bad Boy taking third. Team Wanted took it kind of gently around the turns for the rest of the race.

Another war was waged in the P4 class as Randy Schluess and Glen Murray in Team Typhoon lead the way in the early laps with another brand new 29 Kryptonite called White Trash hot on their heels. White Trash was driven and throttled by Kirk Roger and owned by Berteld Schmitt. Right behind them was the flying condo, The Delicate Sound of Thunder, owned, driven and throttled by Augie Pensa with Kevin Hans as Navigator. This boat comes complete with refrigerator stocked with antipasto at all times. It took a while but Augie finally got around Typhoon and took the lead. Augie's party was short lived as something let go in one of his motors and Typhoon regained the lead. Typhoon may have had the lead but never by more that 30 yards in front of White Trash. These identical boats really put on a show. Watts Up, a 38 Slingshot with James Watts and Max Mitchell took over the third position, with Sonic Racing gaining every lap. In the end, Typhoon was given the checkered flag.

The P5 Boyz came ready to rumble as the Team of Bruce Seroff, Paul Lucarelli and Trent Weinant in Simply Awesome took the rest of the fleet for a tour around the racecourse. The boyz had it so well hooked up today they could hold their own in the corners with the Apaches. Team Panther with Johnny Stanch, Nicky Monaco and Anna Maria Angelino and Team Goumada both wanted to put the hit on Simply Awesome. The hit worked as a fuel pump ended the Crash Test Dummies day leaving Panther in the lead, Goumada with Jerry Memoli and John Schmidy in second. Team Carrabbas with Todd and Bonnie Blythe aboard slid into the third spot. The crazy boyz from Wild Card were racing a little 24 Carrera today called Mission Impossible. This is the same boat that won the last APBA race in P5. In usual fashion, the boyz were running with reckless abandon when the outdrive gimbal let go and flooded the engine room, cockpit, and finally sank the boat right out from under the boyz feet. The rescue boats responded so quickly that Evilio Prieto, Lazaro Fonteda and William Ros never even got a chance to go for a swim. They were plucked of the sinking race boat and then the boat was towed in. They'll be back.

Sonic Boom gave a valiant chase and Not Guilty ran it like they stole it but neither could catch the leaders. At the wire, Panther beat out Goumada and Carrabba's nabbed third spot.

There were a few surprises at the awards ceremony. In P1 Class the first place trophy was awarded to Stylin. It seems that Brioschi didn't count accurately and turned in after 17 laps. Since Relentless was next to them the entire race, they turned in too. After Stylin spun and recovered, they completed two more laps to take the win.

P2 and P3 class awards went according to the way the boats finished then in P4 another upset. Typhoon received a three-minute penalty for racing at full speed through a yellow caution area, they should have slowed to clearly avoid the incident. This put White Trash in the lead except they missed a turn marker along the way. So Team Watts Up end up taking home the first place trophy with Sonic Racing earning second place and Team SuperBoat with Fast Eddie Simmons and John Coen III rounding out third place. Randy and Glen are gracious losers that they handed the checkered flag that they received earlier to the new winners as they stood on the podium.

Finally P5 entrants received their awards in the order they finished, Panther, Goumada and Carrabbas.

After the awards Kay and Mac Seelig, (from Harrah Zubbaz 777) our race chairman gave a heart felt speech and congratulated everyone on a wonderful event, vowing to have it return again next summer in even grander fashion.

A tremendous thanks needs to go out to the men and women of the US Coast Guard - Station Atlantic City, the State Police - Marine Division, MONOC and the local community's medical services staff and the many volunteers that come out to support these events. Without their help, none of this would be possible.

This article along with many photos will be in the October issue of Extreme Boats Magazine ( and you can see some of the fine photography work of Jim O'Conner at Click on "Recent Events".

The next OPA race will be held in Point Pleasant NJ on Friday August 15th. Be there and be part of the action.

See ya at the races,

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Old 07-21-2003, 10:49 AM
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..this was an excellent event!....even though we broke testing sat nite..

Great job Kurt and everyone at OPA!!

See you all in Point Pleasant!!

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