Cambridge Classic lights up Hambrooks Bay

MD-Cambridge Classic boat race_3x pair

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
2.5 Litre Stock class racers Howie Schnalbolk (80), and Doug Martin (33) battle for clear water at the 106th annual Cambridge Classic Powerboat Regatta May 28-29 at Hambrooks Bay in Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE — Cambridge Power Boat Racing Association (CPBRA) wrapped up running of the 106th Cambridge Classic Powerboat Regatta on Sunday evening with a small beak for rain, followed by running the final two heats after a peak at the radar showed a “window” in the weather pattern. The event covered two days, Saturday and Sunday, and enjoyed a very large turnout. “We hardly ever go anywhere on Memorial Day,” said one attendee, “so this is a great time to hold the race!”

In the past, the Cambridge Classic was held the end of July, and over time it appeared that attendance was down because a lot of folks are vacationing in July. Also, July was the middle of the racing schedule, and travel considerations kept a number of racers away. “We saw the date change as a chance to draw in more of the racers,” said Allen Nelson of the CPBRA. “Especially for the GP class, and this year we’re actually scheduling a GP race.”

The Grand Prix hydroplanes are the biggest, and the fastest, with the GP, or “Unlimited” class, boats being able to pull 140 mph at the end of the straights of the one-mile oval. Minimum length of a GP hull is 21 feet, with a weight limit of 2,275 pounds. Approved engines are up to 511 cubic inches and fuel restricted to alcohol or gasoline.

When a GP boat hits the turns, its speed may only dip just under 100 mph. The boat will throw a roostertail of water 30 feet high down the straight, but in the turns the skid fin on the left side of the hull digs in and throws out a solid cloud of water.

Other boat shapes include the Jersey Speed Skiff, which is a lapstrake-planked 16-foot hull powered by one stock gasoline-powered 283ci or 305ci automotive or marine engine. The minimum weight of a skiff is 1600 pounds, and it carries a crew of two.

The K-Racing Runabouts are at least 17 feet long with a 20 foot maximum, with a flat bottom hull. The K’s are unrestricted as to their engines or fuel, and all are supercharged or turbocharged. Another flat-bottomed class is the Super Stock and Pro Stock classes, which use 500 cubic inch engines running a variety of fuels.

The Sportsman Entry class is a very popular one, with a 16 foot hull that is 72 inches wide, using GM small block cast iron V8 engines and a minimum weight of 1850 pounds. The Jersey Speed Skiff will sometimes hit 80 mph if it can stay in the water, and the rest of the boats will usually top out at over 90 mph, with the bigger boats hitting 120 to 140 mph in the straights. From the shore, they don’t look as fast as they really are!

This year 55 inboard and 10 J Stock entries traveled from Florida, to Canada and out west from Minnesota to compete for National points and points in the Eastern Professional Inboard Championship, as well as two special awards. Saturday’s great weather brought out a large crowd of spectators, but the racing was plagued by a host of mechanical breakdowns and minor accidents that slowed down the schedule.

A Delmarva resident won The Nathan Foundation Index of Performance Award. Battling some tough competition, a very humble Al Thompson of Seaford, Del., in his 2.5 litre stock hydro Tenacity, came the closest to setting a course record.

This year the Hill’s Point Gang presented its Skeeter Johnson Memorial Award to the Grand Prix Class and Tom Pakradooni. Tom, of Glenn Mills, Pa. has been competing in Cambridge for many years. In addition to driving this GP Rolling Thunder, Tom went back to his roots, demonstrating he still has the skiff touch as he drove Tom Petterson’s Lap Dancer to a win on Saturday.

When Kent Island was forced to cancel their event this year due to shallow water, they asked to maintain their “special awards” at Cambridge, to which Cambridge officials gladly agreed. The Paul Sohn Award went to Tom Pakradooni in the Jersey Skiff Class. The Alton Pierson Award to Al Thompson in the 2.5 stock class and the James Curtis Award to Jeff Clauss in the Sportsman Entry SE29 for J & J Marine.

Saturday finishers:
T – 1.5 Litre Stock: 1. John Shaw (5), Lincoln, Del. – 1 Litre Modified: 1. Keith McMullen (80), Annapolis; 2. Austin Price (99), Coachview, Conn.; 3. John Shaw (35), Lincoln, Del.. S – 2.5 Litre Stock: 1. Alfred Thompson (92), Seaford, Del.; 2. Doug Martin (33), Purcellville, Va.; 3. Matt Henning (216), Cinnaminson, NJ. E –5  Litre Stock: 1. Tom Huganir (30), Norristown, Pa.; 2. Keith McMullen (816), Annapolis. JS – Jersey Speed Skiff: 1. Tom Pakradooni (77), Glenn Mills, Pa.; 2. Jeff Lamarco (24), Manahawkin, NJ; 3. Dave Greenlaw (99), Tunersville, NJ. A – 2.5 Modified: 1. Carter Parish (73), Ocklawaha, Fla.. SE – Sportsman Entry: 1. Jeff Clauss (29), Sicklerville, NJ; 2. Dale Hernandez (9), Jr, St. Paul, Minn.; 3. Joe Clauss (30), Mullica Hill, NJ. GP: 1. Tom Pakradooni (88), Glenn Mills, Pa.; 2. Johnson Wolfe (93), Phoenix, Ariz.

Sunday finishers:
T – 1.5 Litre Stock: 1. Courtney Stewart (720), Annapolis; 2. John Shaw (5), Lincoln, Del.; 3. Kevin Gunther (16), West River. Y – 1 Litre Modified: 1. J. Michael Kelly, Bonney Lake, Wash.; 2. John Shaw (35), Lincoln, Del.; 3. Keith McMullen (80), Annapolis. S – 2.5 Litre Stock: 1. Alfred Thompson (92), Seaford, Del.; 2.Howie Schnalbolk (80), Johns Island, SC; 3. Doug Martin (33), Purcellville, Va. . E –5  Litre Stock: 1. Tom Huganir (30), Norristown, Pa. JS – Jersey Speed Skiff: 1. Tom Pakradooni (77), Glenn Mills, Pa.; 2. Dave Greenlaw (99), Turnersville, NJ; 3. Billy Sewell (991), Denton. A – 2.5 Modified: 1. Joe Sovie (25), Ogdensburg, NY; 2. Jacob Cheezum (7), Glen Burnie. SE – Sportsman Entry: 1. Jeff Klauss (29), Sicklerville, NJ; 2. Katelyn Shaw, Mullica Hill, NJ; 3. Dale Hernandez (9), Jr, St. Paul, Minn. GP: 1. Tom Pakradooni (88), Glenn Mills, Pa.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at

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