King Sting

Jim Denooyer posted top speed on Saturday, everybody said the engines were set on kill and would never last in Sundays marathon and two years in a row, he won that too! So in year number three, POPBRA banned turboed tunnel boats. Sometimes your boat is too damn fast and too damn reliable…thanks, Banks!

For the second year in a row, King Sting is number one at both the Lucky Las Vegas Regatta and the Powerboat Magazine World Speed Trials.

Jim Denooyer posted top speed on Saturday, everybody said the engines were set on kill and would never last in Sundays marathon and two years in a row, he won that too! So in year number three, POPBRA banned turboed tunnel boats. Sometimes your boat is too damn fast and too damn reliable…thanks, Banks!

After he set top time at the Powerboat Magazine World Speed Trials and won the Lucky Las Vegas Regatta in 1983, Jim DeNooyer had no doubts that he’d bring King Sting back for a repeat performance.

“We’ve spent most of the last 12 months getting ready for this race,” said the Albany, New York auto dealer. “This one event is our whole racing season.”

DeNooyer might not race often, but when he does, it’s for keeps. Despite the fact that he won handily in his rookie venture west, DeNooyer elected to make some changes to the potent, yet reliable Gale Banks turbocharged engines in his 30-foot Shadow Cat.

“We upped the cubic inches from 372 to 398 and also switched to taller gears and a different set of props,” said the defending Lake Mead champion. “But the biggest difference is nitrous oxide to help get on plane. We hope the changes will push us close to 130 mph in the speed trials.

“Actually, the big number is what we came here for,” continued DeNooyer, who employs mechanic Phil Austin to drive so he can work the throttles. “You can win 100 races … you can win 1,000 races, but there’s only one world speed record.”

DeNooyer had his sights and hopes set on a banner 130 mph blast, but mirror-smooth conditions were restrictive and he had to settle for a best of 121, six miles per hour faster than his 115 performance in 1983.

And although it didn’t quite purr as expected, King Sting was a fat 20mph faster than anything else in Glitter Gulch. Consequently, it was a foregone conclusion that DeNooyer merely had to complete a scenic six lap tour of the Lake Mead basin and victory was his for the taking.

An admitted racing novice, DeNooyer deliberately played it cool on his first round trip. A record 59 boats answered starter Elmore Nelson’s flare, although some of the smaller, short course entrants immediately thought better of tackling the unusually rough waters of Lake Mead and beat a quick path back to the Marina.

King Sting throttled back on the opening straightaway and tucked behind early leaders Betty Cook, Karl Koster and Bob Nordskog to get a fix on the turn boats. “We had a few navigational problems last year,” said DeNooyer, “and figured this time it would be smart to get the lay of the land before making our move.”

Instead of staying with the lead pack and saving power as he’d done the year before, DeNooyer established a pace that put him between three and four minutes ahead of the nearest contenders. Despite his near 100 mph gait, DeNooyer amazingly never really taxed King Sting’s specially built turbocharged engines that had been personally prepared by horsepower mentor Gale Banks. King Sting was a gem of consistency, turning in consecutive lap times of 15, 15, 14, 14, 14 and 13 minutes.

Although conditions were the roughest in the event’s three year history and posed some difficulties for the day cruiser contingent, the cats experienced few problems in the swells and wind chop. In fact, air entrapment hulls occupied the first four positions in the final standings.

Betty Cook, accompanied by throttleman John Connor and navigator Gus Anastasi, kept King Sting honest early, but it was never really a contest. Competing in a legal APBA production class boat with surface drives of her own make. Cook clicked off an impressive 101 pass in the speed trials. Her mount was a new Excalibur cat with basically stock twin big blocks.

The former two-time world champion has definitely lost some of her mystique in recent years. Cook’s mere presence at Lake Mead was somewhat surprising considering her relentless backstabbing attacks on MBRA’s management and its format. Cook. who hasn’t been a serious contender in more than two years. would eventually wind up third overall and second in IB.

On the final straightaway, Cook lost a hard-fought battle with Fred Gellert who christened a twin engine, small block Shadow cat in Vegas. Gellert’s Catapult would emerge victorious in IIB, finishing three minutes behind King Sting and 45 seconds ahead of Cook. Gellert, a longtime MBRA participant, campaigned a 21- foot, twin-Mercury Challenger his first four years in the sport.

Karl Koster was the next cat in the litter, finishing fourth overall and second in IIB in his triple-engine, outboard-powered Shadow Kal Kustom. Koster was a scant minute behind Cook and only five minutes astern of DeNooyer. Koster has finished every race entered this year, but despite his success with outboards is thinking about switching to stern drives for the ’85 season.

Veteran Bob Nordskog, who derived his greatest pleasure watching approximately 60 boats start the raee, was the first V-bottom, winning the 1A Class for an unprecedented 20th time in a row. Never in the history of offshore racing has a competitor dominated a division so thoroughly. Nordskog hasn’t had a mechanical failure of any type in nearly three years, and he’s competed in every MBRA race ever staged.

The man who initiated the Lucky Las Vegas Regatta and is responsible for the entire organization of the event, finished fifth overall. To help promote the fastest growing marathon race in the country, Nordskog invited Las Vegas Mayor Bill Briare to occupy the navigator’s slot in his 38-foot Scarab. An avid motor sports huff with limited experience in off-road racing, Briare summed up his first marine adventure in one word: “Fantastic!”

When he saw that he had no realistic chance of catching the cats, Nordskog, who was only six minutes behind DeNooyer at the halfway point, backed off and concentrated on holding his position. At the end, the gap had widened to 14 minutes. “We could’ve run a little harder the second half and narrowed the distance but what was the point?” commented the sport’s winningest competitor. “Granted, conditions were rougher than ever before but it was still cat water. We knew going in that this would be a comparatively smoothwater race, but it offers newcomers a chance to get started under controlled conditions. Hopefully. they will join us when we really go offshore racing.”

The first time the MBRA went to Lake Mead in 1981. the event turned into a shoot-out between Nordskog’s V-bottom and the 100 mph day cruisers that compete on the marathon ski race circuit. Try as they might, for the third year in a row, however, the California-style speedsters came up short against the legit offshore machines.

At the conclusion of lap three — the finish line for the short course competitors — Class V winner Mike Mays, in a single-engine, 26-foot Sanger C.P. Performance and VIA winner Gene Racine Jr. in his 24-foot turbocharged SKV Big Red were running sixth and seventh overall, nine minutes behind King Sting.

Racine’s short course win was particularly satisfying, nevertheless, because Class VIA was 12 members strong and included the best Schiada, Hallett, Rayson Craft, Spectra and Brummett have to offer. Denny Lee finished second and Schiada owner Ron Spindler, whose speed of 102 mph in the speed trials was top time for the competitive day cruiser division, was third.

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