Jessop "Jay" Smith died on January 17, 1996 from cancer of the pancreas. He was 62. Jay was originally from Gates Mills, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) where he was an executive with Triple--S Development Corporation owned by his family. His father, Vincent K. was a founder of the Lubrizol Corp. Jay was one of the founding members of the Great Lakes Offshore Powerboat Racing Assn. (GLOPRA) where he served as a club Trustee in 1975 and 1976 and Treasurer from 1977 to 1982. He then served as APBA Offshore Vice President. from 1983 to 1988.
In 1986, he moved from his home in Gates Mills to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where he lived with his second wife, Beverly. Jay also had two children, a son Scott, a daughter Kimberly and a grandchild.
Jay was best known for (besides his rather large stature, big cigars and admiration of the opposite sex) his wit, humor, fun loving shenanigans and partying. He was a rebel and an instigator who challenged his friends at many bizarre things including offshore racing that he loved and devoted much of his life to perfecting. He participated in the first ever race across Lake Erie in a 16' boat after which he owned about 6 race boats all named "PUTT PUTT" (a Donzi, a Scarab, a Cigarette, a Velocity, a Cobra and a Coyote) and, of course, "Dionysus" his pleasure boat named after the Greek God of Wine whose worshipers were known to celebrate the power of nature and fertility.
Before full faced helmets, Jay could often be seen racing around the race course with his cigar still firmly planted in his mouth. Those were also the days when racers had to plot their own course and find their own compass headings. Since Jay had his captains license, all the racers would wait for Jay to plot his course. Jay being Jay, he would leave it boldly laying around for all to see. The other racers would copy it, not knowing he had made some minor "adjustments". When the race began, you could see race boats heading in various different directions. Jay would just laugh. This went on for several years until the racers figured out what Jay had been doing.
Besides being a prankster, Jay was also an innovator in the sport; having instituted many of the early tech rules. As a politician, he would always try to do what was best for the sport.
His offshore career accomplishments include 1977 U.S. National Champion in Production I Class as well as many, many more races won locally.
Those closest to him recount many tales of woe right down to the day of his funeral for which he personally made provisions for his family and friends to "party" -just as they always had when Jay was around. In Jay's honor, I would like to re--print his famous classified ad listing his Velocity race boat for sale. It read:
"FOR SALE: 30, Velocity "KAPUTT KAPUTT" -- partially delaminated hull with bondo bottom, loose stringers, plus much more. Engines are beat .280 Mercurys with low oil pressure, bad rings, blown head gaskets, bent valves and scored pistons. Otherwise in fair shape. You, too, can be a Rodney Racer by laying out 18,000 big ones or will trade for van load of cheap wine. Bent trailer, dually crew cab GMC truck included. (I should tell you about the truck, but why ruin your day!) Call Jessop Smith, nights between 2:00am and 5:00am"
To those of us who knew him and loved him, he'll always be with us -- especially when it's "party time".
By Teresa George