Russo, Parker Come Away With Big Victories in JSBRC Season Finale
Bob Russo conceded that his speed skiff title during the Jersey Shore Boat Racing Club’s championship series on Sept. 11 meant very little except for bragging rights.
“It only means something within this small group of boat racers,” said the 61-year-old from Manahawkin, who last won the speed skiff crown in 1995. “I’ve always won the high points, but this is only my second overall championship. But we’ve had a really good season. We’ve had 11 first-place and one second-place finishes.”
Driving alongside co-pilot Mark Kepel, Russo grabbed the lead immediately upon the green-flag start and never looked back, blazing around the oval, half-mile course just off South Green Street in Tuckerton in his No. 30 BOSS.
After their blistering five-lap victory, the duo sought the checkered flag to take it for a victory lap. Then, a bit of irony struck.
“We cruised over to get the checkered and the boat totally died,” Russo said amid laughter from Kepel. “We ran her so hard and she was so hot, she just had enough.”
BOSS, which Russo affectionately calls “Bender’s Original Speed Skiff” and was acquired as a 30th birthday present to himself – hence the No. 30 – had to get towed back to shore. Still, Russo was pleased with the victory, which he dedicated to his late daughter, Marina, who died in a car accident in 2010 at age 17.
“Marina was a great, fun-loving girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and this championship is for her,” Russo said. “She left this Earth four days before she was going to turn 18, and she would have been 24 now. But every time I go out there to race, I pray to her. She’s my true inspiration.”
Behind Russo were the No. 121 Am Spec in second and No. 42 S&S Express in third.
Following Russo’s victory, the Overall Garvey boat championship was contested with seven boats, with six of them vying for individual class championships in four categories – 315 two-barrel stock, 315 super stock, 350 stock and 358.
As the boats were warming up for the start, the G-0 Snoopy blew out and never got to the starting line, leaving six boats to get after the overall title.
Jimmy Crimmins of Lanoka Harbor jumped out to the early lead, zipping through two of the five laps in the first spot. But Crimmins’ G-44 Direct Deposit was caught on the front straightaway of the third lap by Bob Parker of West Creek, zipping along in the G-63 Screamin’ Sue.
Parker passed Crimmins off the first turn of the backstretch and stretched the gap from there, pushing the margin to some 50 yards by the start of the final lap.
“We had a good motor and a good-handling boat,” Parker said after he and co-pilot Sean Szymanski were able to keep their boat going for a victory lap with the checkered flag before returning to shore. “We probably topped out at around 75 mph, and this is the first time I’ve won this championship in this boat, so it’s definitely special.”
Parker, whose boat is named after builder Ronnie Spafford’s mother, who used to yell at him to keep the noise down late at night while he was constructing the craft, said it was his third overall title.
“I’ve probably raced in the championship race 10 times,” he said. “And this was a good win for us, because there are faster boats now. There’s a lot of good competition out there. But I love being out there. It’s dangerous, and on the verge of being uncontrollable at times, but it’s the ultimate thrill.”
Overall, Parker was trailed by Crimmins in Direct Deposit, which won the two-barrel class title, the G-56 Pink Boat of Mystic Island’s Kevin Wufflen, who won the 350 stock class, and the G-227 2-Xtreme.
The 315 super stock winner, G-127 Xtreme, driven by Tuckerton’s Anthony Yagellio, was fifth, while the G-6 Miss Olive, driven by Barnegat’s Jay Speck, was sixth en route to the 358 class title.
In addition to the racing, the championship series event was the culmination of an eight-race schedule that served as a fundraiser for the Parkertown Volunteer Fire Co. Also, Crick Crew Racing driver Dennis Seeley Jr. was on hand raffling off a unique handsaw – hand-painted by Seeley with a scenic depiction of a JSBRC race being run in the bay – to help raise funds for Racing 2 Cure (racing2cure.org), a nonprofit that helps families currently battling cancer.
“Last year we were part of an effort that helped raise $450,000 that went to help 40 families,” said Seeley, an Eagleswood firefighter, among other things. “These were families who had loved ones with cancer, and each time there’s a race I try to make something unique to raffle off so we can raise more money to help Racing 2 Cure. This is what the good Lord has me doing, and I’m happy to do it.”
— David Biggy