Shaw races to victories in ‘Thunder on the Choptank’

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Dorchester resident John Shaw was in the lead Saturday on his way to a victory in the 1.5-liter modified class in the “Thunder on the Choptank” powerboat races in Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE – It wasn’t the weather, but there was plenty of “Thunder on the Choptank” over the weekend, as powerboats came to this riverside town from around the nation and Canada.
John Shaw lives in the county and is a teacher at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School. When he isn’t busy with local students, he is a well known and successful powerboat racer on the national circuit.
“Wow! What a weekend racing at the Thunder on the Choptank,” Mr. Shaw wrote on social media. “The T-1 ‘The Trophy Hunter’ ran great all weekend long, finishing first in all four heats.”
There was excitement among the spectators lining the shore on Sunday, as Mr. Shaw battled it out with a determined challenger.
“The 1.5 final Sunday was probably the best heat of the weekend as Samantha Ewancio in her T-314 battled side by side all five laps, only to edge her out by mere inches at the finish line. This was probably the closest finish I’ve had in my 15 years of racing,” Mr. Shaw wrote.
There was another sort of highlight for Mr. Shaw, as he had the pleasure of working with a young racer. “Special thanks to my ‘crew chief’ for the weekend, 12-year-old Courtney Fike, for keeping me in line after she was done beating up on the boys in her J-Stock,” Mr. Shaw wrote.

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
John Shaw was joined by fellow racer Courtney Fike, 12, during a break between events at Great Marsh Park.

After a race on Saturday, Mr. Shaw supervised the loading of “Trophy Hunter,” as it was lowered by crane onto a trailer. Driving a pick-up truck, he towed the boat from the pit into a parking area at Great Marsh, where he paused to talk about the event.
“This is the first year the Kent Island committee is doing the race here,” he said.
For years, the Kent Narrows Racing Association hosted the “Thunder on the Narrows,” until a new rule required that a minimum of four feet of water be under the boats at all points of the course.
But at the narrows, “There were spots that were significantly less,” Mr. Shaw said.
So organizers began working to bring the annual event to the popular course in Hambrooks Bay in the Choptank River. Mr. Shaw said the move was met with cooperation.
“Local racers were a huge help in getting everything set up,” he said.
And while the event itself is new to Cambridge, powerboat racing is not, tracing its history on the river back more than a century. That fame serves to attract racers, crews and fans from across North America.
Though he travels a great deal during the season, even making weekly trips to Seattle, Wash. during the spring, this one was a fair bit more convenient for the local driver.
“I love racing 15 minutes from home,” Mr. Shaw said with a smile.
Full results were not posted by press time. To check for results, visit

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
There’s more to being a driver than just racing. Mr. Shaw supervised the loading of Hagatha Motorsports’ “Trophy Hunter” after a race.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at

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