Images by : Tommygun Photographics -
Words by : RiverDave

I have a friend named Cliff (American Offshore Powerboats) that off and on over the course of a year has told me about his friends "Crazy Skater" that I need to go check out. After a few photos texted, and a conversation with Al Burns the owner I decided to do just that.

Tom and I jumped in the "Photo wagon" at 4:30 am to leave out of Havasu and head towards Phoenix, not really sure what to expect when we arrived. We got there around 8:00 am to see a 28'ish foot Sleek craft parked at the end of the driveway, what we presumed (correctly) would end up being a chase boat for photos. As we pulled in I got my first glimpse of the monster that is "Out of Control."

To start from the ground up, it's on a custom low boy tilt trailer made by Skater. It has a large enclosed box up on the gooseneck that when you open it up has lighting, overhead cabinets, a stainless workbench with an integrated tool box, and room to store enough race fuel for an entire weekend of Shoot Out & Poker Run Fun.

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To describe the boat on the trailer in a word it's "Massive." It's a 40' Skater, quarter canopy boat, that has been widened 12 inches, making it right around 12 feet wide total. The first thing that you notice is the lines are smoother on this one then most the others, it's lower and sleeker looking. There's no large blower scoops protruding off the back. Instead there is just four small inlet holes for the turbos to breathe.

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We shook hands with Al, met with Jason Campbell (crew chief) and Gary (one of Al's sons), and just went over the boat and the plan for the days events. With that Al said "Go have fun" and a small entourage of people piled into their perspective vehicles headed for Lake Pleasant.

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When we arrived they laid the boat flat, and while the guys were taking the straps off from underneath, I spent a few minutes checking out the tow vehicle and asking Jason all about it. I didn't take any pics of the inside of it (In retrospect I should have had Tom shoot it, because it was legit), but it's a 2006 Freighliner that has been modified.

The sleeper has been stretched three feet, and the inside more or less converted to an RV. It has a couch/fold out bed, Kitchenette, satellite TV, and full JL Audio on the inside. It's setup as a work horse for the Poker Run circuit, with a hose reel for on board air, a 12 KW generator, an integrated pressure washer, and an Auxiliary fuel tank with pump that you can store some extra race gas or diesel in depending on the need.

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Tom spent about 45 minutes shooting the boat, while Jason and I were telling boat stories, and I was getting to know Gary a little bit. The boat itself is a 2006, but there isn't a mark on it anywhere. In talking with Jason & Gary, it's not hard to understand why. The Hull itself only has 20 hours of run time on it total, and the motors have about 3 hours since the last time they were prepped by Duttweiler.

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After Tom finished shooting, Jason backed the rig down into the water and him and I spent a few minutes down at the dock going over the boat. The amount of thought and features that went into this are more inline with a Formula 1 car, then what you would normally see in relatively simple applications like boats.

The boat is powered by twin 572 Cubic Inch Twin Turbo Duttweiler engines. The motors are setup to have three different boost levels (up to 38 pds), and can be switched on the fly from 1100 Horsepower a side, all the way up to 2365 HP (yes you read that right) each. If that's not enough there's also a Nitrous Oxide system with remote bottle turns on's and arming from the drivers seat that can be activated at anytime.

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Close up of the exhaust and turbocharger plumbing.
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Top Side close up with Plenum / Throttle body linkages etc..

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Exhaust side of the motors..

If you look in between the exhaust and down you can see the beginnings of the drive line. This boat features a pair of fairly rare "Weisman" four speed transmissions in the boat coupled to a three disc Crower air assist clutch system. (The same that is used in top alcohol dragsters). If you look to the left of the photo you can see one of the Nitrous Oxide bottles in the gunnel.

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If you can manage to pry your eyes off the Turbo's in this photo you will see a hydraulic ram hooked to linkages on the inside of the transom. This boat is one of two skaters that is actually rigged up with cavitation plates like a flat bottom! This to me is one of the coolest things about the boat, because not only is it hugely functional, but it's also a testament to Al's history in the boat business and where he comes from (which is a whole different story in itself).

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After the the clutch packs, and through the Weisman Transmissions all that power is fed to the water via a pair of Arneson ASD8's.

Note if you look ahead and below the Arnesons you can see the two large black Cav Plates on the bottom of the boat. You can also see them in the tilt trailer picture above where it is looking at the bottom side of the boat. These and most of the fabrication and machining done on motor mounts, innercooler mounts, etc.. were all done by Bergeron Engineering in Mesa AZ.

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The cockpit is very typical of a Skater of this caliber with full redundant instrumentation, custom switch panels, and of course it is a true "Dual Helm" boat, meaning you can flip a manual valve and put the steering wheel on the other side depending on which you are more comfortable with. There is some additional things like two "racepak" digitial dashes ahead of the shifters that will track data logging, and let you know what gears the transmissions are currently in.

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I know what your thinking, and you are probably salivating to know how it runs (as I was waiting to depart). The crew threw us the lines off the dock and pushed us off. I watched Jason put the shifters in reverse, and as we were backing out I saw the coolest little thing. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me before, but he was steering the boat with the buttons on the front of the shifters. It makes perfect sense to me now that those buttons when pushed in disengage the driveline on that side via the clutches. So as opposed to shifting them in and out of gear like most of us mere mortals, you just hold the buttons in when you want them in neutral and release when you want them in gear.

With that we whipped the boat around, and he went from reverse to forward, and we began idling out towards the lake. Jason was quick to explain that the boat had more or less been moth balled for the last few years since Al had lost interest in the project so we weren't going to run it that hard. I was equally as quick to explain that I have a wife and three kids at home and the idea of running absurd numbers (Absurd starts at 150+ in my book if you are wondering) in an unknown boat to me, with an unknown driver didn't sound all that appealing.

This is the video of a quick pass we made on our way to the designated "Photo Shoot" area. I'll leave it to you to decide if we crossed into absurd or not.

This is the video of that quick ride across lake pleasant. (Video may display twice on some devices)


<iframe src="" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href="
">Take a test drive in Al Burn's infamous &quot;Out of Control&quot; 40 Skater</a> from <a href="">Dave Johnson</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

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We floated for awhile talking about the boat, and Al. I was primarily thinking back to my conversations with Al where he mentioned to me that both of his sons at one time also had Skaters, and was very proud that both of them (to his knowledge) still held speed run records at LOTO for the naturally aspirated Cat class (one being a 32, and the other a 36).

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He had started this project with the intention of being the first open cockpit boat to run over 200 in the shootout. His sons had moved on from ultra high performance boating, and Al just lost interest in the entire shoot out scene so the boat was mothballed. I talked to Al at some lengths about the boat, and a lot of the trials and tribulations he had to overcome by going a different direction then everyone else. The entire first year of owning the boat was just quick trips to the water to test and tune, and make changes.

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I pondered to myself if it would be worth it to undertake such a massive project and step outside of the box on every front only to moth ball it for years. I keep coming back to something Al said to me when I was asking about his life and businesses.

"With great success, comes great challenge."

In short the ideology behind that is nobody got ahead in life doing what everyone else was doing.

It's unfortunate that this will be one of the only goals (near as I can tell) that won't be accomplished in Al's life as health problems have come between him and the task. The boat is now for sale, and Al feels confident with the right set of props, and the right crew this could be a contender for the Shoot Out circuit, after having the opportunity to take a ride and examine the boat first hand I have to say I agree.

To learn more about the boat, and discuss numbers you can call Al Burns at 602-526-8900

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