Man Of His Word: Valder Claims LOTO Powerfest Super Cat Victory
Hours after his throttleman and crew chief, Grant Bruggeman, had left the Thunder on Cocoa Beach offshore powerboat race a couple of weeks back, Wayne Valder, the owner of the 42-foot MTI catamaran, Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing, called out the race winners, Tyler Miller and Myrick Coil of the Monster Energy/M CON team. At the awards ceremony in Cocoa Beach, Fla., Valder said that he was coming to the next race, the LOTO Powerfest on their home waters of Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri, to beat them.
Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing owner and drive Wayne Valder was thrilled to fly the checkered flag following Saturday’s Super Cat race at the renamed LOTO Powerboat at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Photos
“I found out a little bit later that week that he said that,” Bruggemann laughed after taking the wire-to-wire win in the Super Cat race today outrunning owner/throttleman Miller and driver Coil in their 38-foot Skater Powerboats cat. When the green flag flew, the two boats pulled away from the eight-boat Super Cat fleet and waged a torrid battle on the five-mile course.
“When I open my mouth, I have to stand on what I say,” said Valder, who flies to the U.S. from New Zealand for every race. “I needed to make sure I followed through on it.”
For most of the 31 teams that attended LOTO Powerfest, the race in the country’s heartland was the second one they competed in and the third they attended because weather canceled racing for many teams at the season opener in Marathon, Fla. It was the first race organized and run by New Jersey’s Offshore Powerboat Association this season and the event went off without a hitch. It included Formula 1 tunnel boat and Texas Tri Hull races in between the offshore competition that kept fans on the shore entertained. Results are unofficial as of this writing.
“The race went off with no problems at all,” said veteran throttleman Jay Muller. “It was a solid weekend.”
The Super Cat teams put on a great show for the offshore racing fans in town to check out the OPA-produced event.
A primary reason for that was the participation of eight teams in the Super Cat class, four of which call Lake of the Ozarks their home waters. Lanes were drawn after the driver’s meeting and the 40-foot Skater, WHM Motorsports, with owner/driver Billy Mauff and throttleman Muller had the pole position with Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing in lane two, the 38-foot Skater, Graydel, with owner/driver Chris Grant and throttleman Billy Moore in lane three with
M CON in lane four. The 39-foot Outerlimits, SV Offshore, with throttleman Vinnie Diorio and driver Matt Jamniczky, was in lane five and just outside of them were local boaters, owner/driver Randy Keys and throttleman Billy Allen, in the 40-foot Skater, KLOVAR Motorsports. Driver Jason Ventura and throttleman Bill Pyburn had lane seven in their 38-foot Skater, Dirty Money, and the local team of Casey Boaz and Rub Unnerstal who had thrashed through the day on Friday swapping engines were in the outside lane in their 38-foot Skater, CR Racing.
At the start, M CON, Valder Yachts and WHM separated themselves from the fleet.
“That’s the best start we’d had in a long time,” Muller said. “It was definitely good to be back up front with the lead group.”
The Super Cats ran 10 laps on the tight five-mile course near Camden on the Lake. The southern end of the course had more of a sweeping turn that teams could take at speed, but the bigger challenge came at the other end of the liquid racetrack. The winds were blowing out of the north into the tunnels of the catamarans and even though there were three buoys marking the turn, the drivers had to take it more like a tight two-pin turn.
As Valder Yachts and M CON distanced themselves from the pack, the announcers on the livestream commented that the former was pushing the latter wide in the northern turn.
Added Valder, “We had to make sure we consistently held our lines in the turns and in the straightaways. We have rearview mirrors and a rearview camera and we could see them there the whole time.”
Check out more of the Super Cat-class competition in the slideshow above.
As the throttleman, Bruggemann came into the race confident that he could run the boat’s twin Kasse Racing engines at the class’ max rpm of 7,000. The boats hit top speeds approaching 130 mph and Bruggemann had the blessing of the engine builder to stay on the throttles. “I have no worries running them hard when Logan Smolik from Kasse said ‘Grant just run them,’” Bruggemann said.
Through the last half of the race, Coil and Miller tried different lines, but the closest they got to Valder Yachts was two seconds. Bruggemann and Valder took the checkered flag followed by M CON, WHM Motorsports and Graydel. Moore said that he and Grant could run hard into the turns but they didn’t have the speed coming out of the corners.
After the race, Miller applauded his competition.
“Those guys raced a helluva race today,” Miller said. “It’s so much fun when you get out of these things and you battled the entire 10 laps. They had the perfect lines. They were just better than us today.”
Looking at the Super Cat class, Bruggemann said that even though they all talk smack to each other, the owners in the group all respect each other.
“When Wayne arrived up here, he was still laying down the smack talk with all the guys,” Bruggemann said. “Between him, Billy Mauff, Chris Grant, they’re all characters. It makes the whole Super Cat class very colorful.”
One of the largest American flags in Missouri was on full display during the LOTO Powerfest races.
Dropping The Hammer
The second-most populated class was Super Stock with six boats, even though the boat owners in the class voted not to make LOTO Powerfest a points race for the national championships. Four of the boats entered in the race call Lake of the Ozarks home.
The start of the 10-lap race saw the 32-foot Victory, Jackhammer, with owner/driver Reese Langheim and throttleman Julian Maldonado, pick up where it left off in Cocoa Beach, leading wire to wire for the win at LOTO Powerfest.
“It was a great start,” said Langheim, who drove the boat from lane two. The 32-foot Doug Wright, Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping, with owner/throttleman Bill Allen and driver John Strama had lane one.
Reese Langheim and Julian Maldonado won their second consecutive Super Stock-class race on Saturday in their 32-foot Victory cat.
Fellow Ozarks boaters throttleman Rusty Williams and driver Coil in the 32-foot Doug Wright, Performance Boat Center/FASS Diesel Fuel Systems, gave chase to the leader from lane three. Owner/throttleman Loren Peters and driver Mike Wright, another local team in the 32-foot Doug Wright, LPC, were in lane four. Throttleman Shaun Torrente and owner/driver Sean Conner in the 32-foot MTI, CMR Roofing, didn’t get the start they wanted. Neither did Pete and AJ Bogino in their 32-foot Doug Wright, Coco’s Monkey.
Before the race, Langheim and his Manatee Marine Unlimited crew made sure the Jackhammer boat’s setup was what they wanted. The course looked calm, but still presented challenges, especially in the northern turn.
“The wind is coming from the north and blowing into turn 5 or 6,” Maldonado said. “We said, ‘It won’t turn, won’t turn and then it’s boom. We’d go from 108 mph to 75 in a matter of seconds. I figured out that everybody was doing the same thing because we were maintaining the same distance.”
After getting a start that was not up to CMR Roofing team standards, Torrente said, “We didn’t do a good job the first lap and a half. Once we got that cleaned up, we moved forward. It’s not a points race and we came here to learn. We know the boat’s not where it needs to be and we’ll keep moving toward where it needs to be.”
Second place went to Coil and Williams, who were pleased to be on the podium, but said the north turn was the most challenging. “The wind picked up a little bit before the race and you’d be going into the wind, you’d get it to set and it was hard to make that turn,” Williams said.
Perhaps the biggest performance gains were made by the Boginos in their 32-foot Doug Wright, Coco’s Monkey, that had been re-rigged with Mercury Racing 300R outboards at the last minute before the boat made its trip from upstate New York to Missouri. The father-son team made its way through the fleet and wound up finishing third.
“We tested 10 minutes yesterday,” Pete Bogino explained. “I don’t think I’m any faster, but there’s a little more punch,” he said of the torque increase with the 300Rs.
Six Super Stock-class boats lined up to start the race in front of thousands of spectators on Lake of the Ozarks.
Keeping Them Covered
With Marine Technology Inc., being based in Wentzville, Mo., it would have been easy to expect more boats in the 450R Factory Stock class. It was two 39-foot MTI cats versus two 38-foot Doug Wright catamarans on the entry list, but at the last minute, Edwin Scheer’s 38-foot Doug Wright, Hank’s Saloon, had to scratch after thrashing to install new engines in the wake of flipping in Marathon.
After showing plenty of speed in Marathon, throttleman Ricky Maldonado and driver Logan Aidan jumped to the lead in their 38-foot Doug Wright, Doug Wright Powerboats/Waves and Wheels. As the 10 laps clicked off, it was clear the duo had nailed the setup because the boat extended its lead over the defending world and national champions, throttleman John Tomlinson and driver Taylor Scism, in the 39-foot MTI, TS Motorsports. Throttleman Gary Ballough and driver Willy Cabeza ran third in their MTI sistership, GC Racing.
Doug Wright Powerboats/Waves and Wheels took the checkered flag running away with TS Motorsports in second and GC Racing in third.
“We’re just here to race,” said Adan, who added that he used an aerial image of the course to figure out how to take the northern turn. “I drew it out on my phone and try to figure out the best possible lines.”
The Doug Wright Powerboats/Waves and Wheels team of Logan Adan and Ricky Maldonado ran away with the LOTO Powerfest 450R Factory Stock-class race.
Maldonado said the team stretched out its lead because it kissed a turn buoy when avoiding another boat in a turn so he took into account the possibility of a time penalty.
“We wanted to put a minute on the other boats,” Maldonado said. “We had a really good setup. I went really small with the propellers and we got really good numbers out of the boat.”
Keeping things simple, Tomlinson said, “They had us covered today. Our boat had good speed, but we just got there too late.”
Also on the course for the final race of the day were Miller and Coil in their new Class 1 Skater, Monster Energy/M CON. After running a few laps, they pulled off course with a mechanical issue. In Bracket 300 class, the 35-foot Fountain, Team Woody, with driver Billy Shipley and owner/throttleman Chad Woody ran unopposed to the checkers.
Getting It Started
In the first offshore race of the day, 11 boats took to the course in seven different classes. Steve and Stephen Kildahl ran uncontested in their 30-foot Extreme, Boatflater.com, in the Mod-V class. The lone Stock V entry, the 30-foot Phantom, Cigar Monster, had driver Jimmy Wessel and throttleman Robby Goodwin on board. The 39-foot Velocity, GNS Racing, with Grant Greytok and throttleman Bill Reeves made the trip from Texas to participate—and win—in Bracket 200.
In Bracket 400, local favorites owner/throttleman Jim Simmons and driver Jason Zolecki in the 34-foot Phantom, Simmons Marine, had a pretty good battle with the 28-foot Challenger, Crazy Rhythm, with driver Ken Holden and throttleman Chuck Schell, but in the end Simmons Marine notched yet another win.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Zolecki said. “But it was nice to have a boat to race against.”
Gerald Hayden of Michigan owns Crazy Rhythm and the one-of-a-kind boat powered by twin 630-hp small blocks built by Tyler Crockett will be campaigning the full OPA circuit this year.
“We did the parade lap and two swimmers jumped in the water,” Hayden said. “When we went to take off, one motor stalled. We’re friends living on our dream.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images from Saturday’s action.
In Bracket 600, the 1970 Magnum, Logan’s Heroes, with driver Chuck Martin and throttleman Steve LaPinta outlasted the 26-foot Scarab, ST Racing, with Sam Thompson and Travis Blackmore.
Doug Wright Powerboats offered a $5,000 purse to the competitors in Bracket 700 to honor the memory of Bracket 700 world champion James Jaronczyk, who passed away after a boating accident earlier in the spring.
Two Bracket 700 boats competed at the LOTO Powerfest and in the end, the 21-foot Superboat, Jackhammer with owner/driver Brian Guy and throttleman Julian Maldonado took the checkers followed by LOTO local Derek Dawson and throttleman Beau Purtle in the boat Dawson designed, The Punisher.
“After traveling for almost 22 hours, I was hoping for more boats,” said the victorious Guy.
For Dawson whose Mercury Racing 300R almost fell off his boat during a leisurely cruise the week before the race, missing the hometown event was not an option. After realizing replacement parts for his engine were not going to arrive on Wednesday before LOTO Powerfest, he assembled a Mercury Racing 300XS powerhead with a midsection and lower unit he had in his shop in Lake of the Ozarks.
“It was 5 p.m. Wednesday and I was able to scrap it together and get it back to the pits Thursday morning,” Dawson said.
While Dawson had those problems, Bruggemann was already forecasting the pressure that Valder was going to put on the Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing team during the LOTO Powerfest awards ceremony.
“I guarantee he’ll go to the awards and he’ll egg them on and he’ll keep it going on,” Bruggemann said. Offshore racing fans can only hope so.
Cocoa Beach Wrap Up: The Last Lap Is The One That Matters
Breaking: Controversy Erupts Between APBA And OPA
Doug Wright Powerboats Adding Bracket 700-Class Purse For LOTO Powerfest
LOTO Powerfest A Super Stock-Class Tune-Up
Super Cat Competition And More Moving On To LOTO Powerfest
Granet, Trulio And Yowaiski Joining Powerboat P1 Broadcast Team
Powerboat P1 Partnerships ‘Full Send’ For 2023 Season
7 Mile Offshore Grand Prix Wrap Up: Wild Weather, Eight Laps And Five Crashes