Pier 57 finishes strong, wins Super Vee

Ocean Spray blows big lead in Chesapeake Challenge

July 26, 1999|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Ocean Spray came into the Chesapeake Challenge as the No. 3 boat in the Super Vee class national standings, behind Pier 57 Fountain and CITGO Supergard, neither of which could keep up yesterday as the crew from California set a blistering pace through 11 laps on the Patapsco River.

And, after nearly 100 miles of American Power Boat Association offshore racing, it appeared Ocean Spray had first place locked up.

Supergard had retired on the fifth lap because of engine trouble, and Pier 57 had fallen far behind. So far back that as Ocean Spray disappeared down the backstretch in a roostertail of spray, Pier 57 was on the front stretch and still several hundred yards from entering the turn.

"The boat was going really great, and I was seeing speeds of 135 and 133 mph," said Ocean Spray driver Bruce Penhall of Laguna Hills, Calif. "But as we got to the last corner, we ran out of gas."

And after Ocean Spray shut down one 1,000-horsepower engine and limped toward the finish line with the other sucking fumes, Pier 57 streaked ahead to win.

"We passed them with about 100 yards to go to the finish line," said Pier 57 driver Jeff Harris of Washington, N.C.. "They were right on the money all day long and we just couldn't catch them."

Penhall said the race boats are not equipped with fuel gauges, but load only the amounts of fuel they expect to use in a given race. Yesterday, he said, Ocean Spray took on 260 gallons for 11 laps around the 9-mile course east of Fort McHenry.

"If we'd have had 5 or 10 gallons more, we'd have been OK," Penhall said. "We knew we were using lots of fuel, but we didn't think we'd used that much."

Penhall said racing yesterday was virtually full-throttle all the way around the course, and Ocean Spray was hitting near-record speeds for short periods.

"I guess if we had to do it again, I'd opt for slowing down on the last lap to conserve fuel," said Penhall. "But the way we were going, they would have had to do 145 miles per hour to catch up and the world record in this class is 133."

But as it turned out, after 99 miles, Pier 57 averaged 99.26 miles an hour to Ocean Spray's 99.16 and finished 4 seconds ahead.

Harris was paired with throttleman Art Lily of Edgewater yesterday on Pier 57. In Saturday's races, Lily was on Pier 57's Offshore B boat when it crashed with Dramamine, which was driven by Harris.

Before yesterday's races, Lily and Harris spoke lightly of the crash while alongside the big orange Pier 57 trailer at the Baltimore Marine Center.

"At least we know we can't hit each other today, unless it's inside our own cockpit," Lily said.

In other races, Out of Bounds won the Modified Class by 26 seconds, Citre Shine won Super Stock by 20 seconds, and Team Snap On won Factory 2 by 11 seconds.

In the only major mishap of the day, the Factory 2 boat Flirtin With Disaster hit a navigation buoy on its first lap and partially sank before rescue boats got tow lines attached. Driver Todd Dalton and throttleman Richard Scott Mura were quickly pulled from the water and neither was seriously injured.

Bruce Sperling, the throttleman from Dramamine who was injured in Saturday's wreck and taken to Shock Trauma, was released early yesterday morning. Sperling, who broke his back 18 months ago in a motorcycle accident, said his back was not injured further in the crash with Pier 57's Offshore B boat.

He said, however, it took 32 surface stitches as well as many more internal stitches to close a 6-inch wound to his forehead and scalp.

If there was a drawback to the weekend of racing on the Patapsco, APBA Offshore chairman Mike Allweiss said, it was debris apparently washed into the river by evening thunderstorms last week.

"We had more than $150,000 in damage to race boats from floating debris," he said. "Hooters, our world champion pro stock boat, hit a floating log [Sunday] and took out the lower units on all three of its engines.

"But the local fleet of racers Saturday was the largest we have had anywhere this year, and the volunteers from the Chesapeake Bay Power Boat Association made the competition run smoothly and handled the few rescue operations flawlessly."

Yesterday's results

(Class, laps, position, avg. speed, total time or position, points earned)

USA 1 (12 laps): Drambuie on Ice, 95.0 avg. mph, running 11th lap, 100.

Super Vee (11 laps): 1. Fountain Pier 57, 99.26, 57: 32, 103; 2. Ocean Spray Fountain, 99.16, 57: 36, 92; 3. CGS Ferocious, 89.37, retired 7th lap, 82; 4. Citgo Supergard Scarab, 92.35, retired 5th lap, 73.

Modified (11 laps): 1. Out of Bounds, 103.73, 55: 03, 102; 2. CK Motorsports, 103.16, 55: 24, 91; 3. Flying Tiger, 93.06, retired 2nd lap, 81.

Pro stock (9 laps): 1. Critical Lift, 83.89, running 9th lap, 101; 2. Hooters, 78.13, retired 3rd lap, 90.

Super stock (9 laps): 1. Citre Shine, 85.42, 54: 42, 102; 2. Powerbroker, 84.79, 55: 08, 91; 3. Sudden Development, 83.62, 55: 53, 81.

Factory 2 (8 laps): 1. Team Snap On, 77.73, 53: 26, 108; 2. Twisted Styx, 77.52, 53: 37, 97; 3. Mastry Fountain, 77.45, 53: 40, 87; 4. VelociRaptor, 76.13, 54: 34, 78; 5. Treadwell Motorsports, 75.16, 55: 16, 70; 6. Xtra Lean, 74.47, 55: 48, 62; 7. Treadwell Racing, 72.38, running 8th lap, 55; 8. Fast Tech Racing, 74.25, retired 7th lap, 49; 9. Flirtin With Disaster, retired 1st lap, 43.

Factory 3 (8 laps): 1. Team Boathouse, retired 1st lap, 100.

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