By Margaret Hart
Zerodefect ran well, if not conservatively, to take the win in Open class, with Spirit of Texas (formerly Carlos ‘n Charlies) finishing second. The 42 foot Fountain "Ohio Steel" was forced to stop to deal with an engine fire midway through the race, and was later disqualified. Lightning Jack, a 36 foot Skater out of Wisconsin, finished in third place, with the other Ohio Steel finishing fourth and Carlton Myers' 39 foot Skater "how Sweet it is" dropping out early to take fifth.
In Modified class, Spirit of Texas won with a overall speed of 81.7 mph, followed by Ragamuffin. Hot & Nasty ran an impressive first lap, running up with the Open boats but quitting during the second lap. Performances like the one put on by Hot N Nasty and other Open and Modified boats have some of the superboat teams wondering just how fast the these boats can go.
The race required both handling as well as navigation skills, with the long, 8.7 mile back stretch claiming its share of lost crews. Several boats were spotted heading south from Tampa at a high rate of speed toward the start/finish line after taking a detour at the north end of the course.
Pro-Outboard was won by Patriot, with Stock class by Cutting Edge. D class was won by the 35 foot Motion driven by Joe Padovano, the Pepsi/Taco Bell boat, while Ocean Spray, the 37 foot Wellcraft driven by Bruce Penhall and throttled by Dennis Sigalos, hit a turn boat after spinning out at the south end of the course. Two persons on the turn boat were injured, neither seriously, while the crew of Ocean Spray were unharmed in the crash. The C class was taken by Harrah's Megabucks. Everglades Executioner, driven by Eric Bush and throttled by Tres Martin of InxS fame, finished first in the B class.
A very successful 1996 Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix came to an end Sunday evening with the awards ceremony. One of the most important reasons for having the races at Sarasota is the Suncoast Foundation, which provides monetary support for many of the needy citizens of Sarasota. At the post-race awards ceremony, many racers returned their winners's checks to help out the foundation. It provides those of us watching and racing with the a real sense of purpose and gratification when we see the sport supporting those who need it most.
See you at the next race!
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