V-Drives Reclaim Respect At 2009 Parker 300 Enduro

The 2020 Parker Enduro just happened last Saturday, October 30, keeping America’s oldest marathon boat race still alive although it is a mere fragment of its once great self. Still, the Enduro remains competitive and entertaining to watch as a variety of boats (this year 26 entries answered the starting flag) rumble over a shortened Colorado River race course at speeds of 100 mph and more.
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Maybe this isn’t a bad time, however, to turn the clock back a little and see how things have changed a bit in the past twelve years. Will it be an inboard or an outboard that takes the eventual overall crown? That debate never changes.


Victory almost went to a “new age” sterrndrive, but in the end it was the “old school” V-drive that took home the first-place hardware.
Randy Davis’ 21′ Nordic Cyclone was unquestionably the dominate boat on the six-mile Enduro course, hitting well over 100 miles an hour on the straightaways thanks to a Mercury Racing 1200 SCi/#6 Drive package.
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As the continuous, stop-only-for-fuel, marathon got close to the magic 50-lap mark, Davis was thought to have a comfortable two-plus lap lead on the rest of the field. Minutes later, he was presented the checkered flag. It wasn’t until hours after the race concluded at the awards ceremony when Gary Hairabedian’s “Team Justified” stepped to the podium to accept the overall victory trophy, the result of an unintentional scoring error by the apparent first place winner.

Hairabedian’s win was both surprising and popular. “Team Justified” has been whisker close to winning the Enduro’s top prize on several previous occasions, only to have bad luck prevent the victory.
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Especially sweet was the fact that Hairabedian’s ride is a traditional inboard V-drive, a crimson-red 21 Schiada River Cruiser with a monstrous big-block twin-turboed Chevy pumping out a thousand plus horsepower. Battling Hairabedian right to the wire was the father/son team of Bob and John Teague pounding the river in their Teague/Whipplecharged 1200 horsepower GN 77 for second place.

The Parker Enduro began in 1963 as a nine-hour marathon over a 6-1/2 mile (13-mile lap) stretch of the Colorado River which separates California and Arizona. Since then the Parker Enduro has adapted with the times, almost disappearing from the boat racing scene until it was revived several years ago with new sponsorships, new classes and new management/promotion. Given what 46 race teams and several thousand spectators witnessed this year, the Parker 300 Enduro is here to stay for a while.

The Parker 300 Enduro was presented by: Nordic Boats, Ecology Auto Parts, Teague Custom Marine, Bud Light, The Solder Joint/PCI Radio’s, John’s Custom Marine/Stoker Boats, Frank Marrone & Sons Plumbing, River Bottom Auto Body of Blythe, and Bingham Equipment Rentals. Event Organization/Promotion: RPM Racing Ent.


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A ski racing father/son team, Bill and Sean Mason, opened some eyes at the Enduro in their Nordic/Cyclone vee-bottom jet. With the advantage of leaving the beach in the first flight, the Mason’s got out front and showed early speed, never relinquishing their class lead, running flawlessly to finish, a surprising fifth overall. Their boat is powered by a 515 c.i. turbocharged Ford with a couple of Super Chiller intercoolers and electronic fuel injection. Their trick set-up included a Z-drive between the engine and pump that had 13 percent overdrive gearing. According to the Mason’s, the boat is capable of running 95 mph at 5,400 rpm with a triple A impeller. Their closest jet competitor was Ralph Brunt and Nick Vallore in a 1970s vintage 19 Spectra (Chevy BB power) which brought back memories of Rick Fowler, Spectra’s in-house rigging whiz, winning multiple jet class wins at the Enduro in the same style of boat three decades ago. The class crowd favorite was the tandem riding E-12, which is a hybrid Bunky Muirhead built Unlimited Marine flatbottom with an AquaCraft deck and a SB Chevy V-8 for power. Outstanding effort from all in this class!

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It was a little like the story of the “tortoise and the hare.” Off the beach, the “Yosemite Sam” GN boat of Dave Rankin and Paul Fitzgerald took off at sprinter’s speed with Bill Wheeler in the GN 7 “Rusher Air” and Paul Grichar in “Plan B” in hot pursuit, ripping up the river like it was a 15-minute heat race. Lanse Haselrig in the “My Pleasure” 30-year old Rayson Craft ignored the front runners and stuck with his pre-race game plan of “steady and finish” which he eventually did by winning the Division. Grand National v-drive boats dominated this class with dependability trumping speed over the long 300-mile haul. Dennis Rankin/Mike Stock/Phil Gould took the runner-up position after sorting out a few early-race mechanical problems with Rob Devine and Clay McKinley collecting third place honors and 22nd overall.

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Favorites don’t always win. Mod VP style outboards with 2-liter Merc engines are what make this class so competitive. Most of the pre-race attention focused on last year’s overall winner, John Lane and Jon Roth in a Stoker 20 SST against Al Stoker driving Fred Bowden’s California Gold near-duplicate Stoker entry. Lane and Roth lead the race early on after Stoker got a miserable start when his engine wouldn’t fire off the beach. Once the temperamental Merc finally lit, Stoker was turning the fastest laps in the class, slowly reeling Lane and Roth in. Shortly before the first pit stop, Stoker developed some gremlins opening the lead for Lane and Roth once again. As the race wore on, Lane and Roth also experienced mechanical difficulties allowing Keith Locklear/Kevin Taylor/ and Tim Carmack from R&R Prop in Henderson, Nevada a chance to take over the lead, also driving a Merc powered Stoker. At the checkered flag it was Locklear/Taylor and Carmack for the win (in 7th overall) with Lane and Roth in for second and Skip Ewing/Bob Williams driving a GMT coming home in third, all with good efforts.

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Nordic got back in the win column with Steve Davis/Scott Wendt and Fred Brennan taking an impressive sixth overall and first in class with their MerCruiser Sterndrive powered vee–bottom ski boat (engines limited to a maximum of 500 c.i. displacement, and naturally aspirated). The Davis/Wendt/Brennan trio didn’t have a cakewalk, however, as they were pushed for the entire race by a pair of single outboard vee-bottoms driven by Mark Durham/Greg Foster (8th overall) and John and Erin Doherty (10th overall). Consistently running in the 80+ mile an hour range, the Division IV fleet, primarily consisting of ski racing outboards, had the highest percentage of finishers at this year’s Enduro.

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At long last, 2009 was vindication for the V-drive inboards. Eventual overall champion, Gary Hairabedian’s 21 Schiada River Cruiser with twin turbocharged BBC power finally snapped several years of ‘almost winning’ performances at Parker. What was equally impressive, however, was the return of Bob and John (his son) Teague to Division V competition with their 27-year old GN 77.

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The former National Champion boat hadn’t been in the water since 1997, and was outfitted with one of Teague’s 1200 horsepower Whipplecharged engines (with carburetors to fit the retro theme of the race) just for this race. Hairabedian and Teague waged a four-hour long duel matching lap-for-lap and consistently running straightaway speeds at 100+ mph. After more than four hours of intense racing, neither boat had encountered even a hint of mechanical trouble and looked capable of continuing for another 300 miles if necessary. Third place in class was Ben Marrone’s V-drive Jones tunnel with a modified Schiada deck. The unique tunnel/V-drive combo has made several previous appearances at the Parker Enduro and continues to move up the finish ladder with noticeably better performances.

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No one will dispute that Randy Davis’ ski race Nordic Cyclone with a Mercury Racing 1200SCi and #6 Sterndrive was the fastest boat on the race course, but due to a scoring error wound up in third place overall but still first in class. Sharing the driving duties with Davis were veterans Billy Dunsmore and Gordy Jennings, Jr. The Nordic Cyclone vee-bottom turned several 6-mile laps averaging just over 100 miles an hour. Finishing one place behind Davis (4th overall) was another Team Nordic Cyclone powered with a Mercury Racing 700SCi and NXT drive package driven by world champion ski racer Todd Haig, Justin Sollar and Fred Brennan. Saving some respect for the outboard contingent, Steve and Jodie Rains took their Stoker 20 SST to a third place in class finish (18th overall) with a Johnson V-8 on the transom.


Gary Hairabedian/John Franklin: 1st Overall — 1st Division V

Bob and John Teague: 2nd Overall — 2nd Division V

Randy Davis/Billy Dunsmore/Gordy Jennings: 3rd Overall — 1st Division VI

Todd Haig/Justin Sollar/Fred Brennan: 4th Overall — 2nd Division VI

Bill and Sean Mason: 5th Overall — 1st Division I

Steve Davis/Scott Wendt/Fred Brennan: 6th Overall — 1st Division IV

Keith Locklear/Kevin Taylor/Tim Carmack: 7th Overall — 1st Division III

Mark Durham/Greg Foster: 8th Overall — 2nd Division IV

Ben Marrone/Phil Lukens/Dave Sammons: 9th Overall — 3rd Division V

John DohertyErin Pilkay-Doherty/Fred Brennan: 10th Overall — 3rd Division IV

John Lane/Jon Roth: 11th Overall — 2nd Division III

Skip Ewing/Bob Williams: 12th Overall — 3rd Division III

Mike Avila/Jimmie Anderson: 13th Overall

Chris Benjamin/Jerry Ray/Jim Louis: 14th Overall

Richie Hudson/Troy Herbst: 15th Overall

Lanse Haselrig/Chris Kohles: 16th Overall — 1st Division II

Rob Ettinger/Greg Henderson/Kelly Ireland: 17th Overall

Steve and Jodie Rains: 18th Overall — 3rd Division VI

Carl Brunst/John Doherty: 19th Overall

Dennis Rankin/Mike Stock/Phil Gould: 20th Overall — 2nd Division II

John Soares: 21st Overall

Rob Devine/Clay McKinley: 22nd Overall — 3rd Division II

Ken and Chris Berwick/Dave Sammons: 23rd Overall — 2nd Division I

Alan Stoker: 24th Overall

Tim Herbst/Kurt Schoen: 25th Overall

Steve Dennison/Jeff Mortis/Don Isapparro: 26th Overall

Daniel Smith/Quemene Perea/Steve Dennison: 27th Overall

John Raptis/Steve Yoder/Danny Santoro: 28th Overall

Kurt Mourer/Chad Hill: 29th Overall

Joey Cucci/Tony Scarlata: 30th Overall

Bill, Bob and Steve Tjerrild: 31st Overall

Frank Doerfler/Brian Murphy: 32nd Overall

Heath Hiebert/Jim Bandelin/Jack Landers: 33rd Overall

Rod Zapf/Bill James: 34th Overall

Bob Kitchens/Randy Lewis: 35th Overall

Ralph Brunt/Nick Vallore/Lance Nicholls: 36th Overall — 3rd Division I

Bill Wheeler: 37th Overall

Mark Moyle/Richard Hammond/Louis Schindler: 38th Overall

Tinker Collinge/Pat Murphy: 39th Overall

Jim and John Best/Skip Ewing: 40th Overall

Aaron Siroonian/Darrin and Chuck Sousamian: 41st Overall

Paul Grichar: 42nd Overall

Jerry Cotter/Tom Stolarz: 43rd Overall

Paul Fitzgerald/Dave Rankin/ Duffy Daily: 44th Overall

Doug Lightfoot Sr. and Jr./Chris Lightfoot: 45th Overall

Jim Rich , DQ