OFFSHORE / ENDURANCE RACING HALL OF FAME

PWCOFFSHORE Racing Hall of Fame

  

Billy Womack, Ca USA.  Inducted in 2008

Steve Friebe, Ca USA.  Inducted in 2012

John Belton, Ca USA. Inducted in 2012

Mike Follmer, Ca USA.  Inducted in 2013

Doug Brown, Ca USA.  Inducted in 2013

Mark Dobson, Ca USA.  Inducted in 2016

KC Heidler, Ca USA.  Inducted in 2019

Lou Peralta, Ca USA.  Inducted in 2019 (*First race promoter ever inducted)


The racers selected to the PWCOFFSHORE Endurance and Offshore Racing Hall of Fame have been selected for their contribution to our sport, success on the race track and overall impact they have had on the offshore and endurance racing community and sport as a whole. These racers are truly the elite of the elite. 



PWCOFFSHORE.COM Racing Hall of Fame Member #1: 

Billy Womack, Inducted in 2008

Four (4) Long Beach to Catalina and Back Offshore National Championships. Need we say any more? Billy Womack was and is a pioneer in the offshore racing sport and a legend in the PWC racing community. He was the first to use GPS to cross the channel, among countless other accomplishments in the offshore and endurance racing arena. Womack was the first to take the LB2CAT to a new level and raised the standard for physical fitness and commitment required to be successful in our sport. We hope our sport will have others that represent themselves and the sport with the class and dignity that Billy Womack has. We say again, four- count them, four Offshore National Championships. 


From Shawn Alladio about Womack:  Dear Friends and Fellow Endurance Racers,

The press release above is listed on the core site for PWCoffshore racing. I'm going to give you a personal description and hope that you add your own stories and memories from the 'EMERALD CROWN' of offshore racing, the LB2CAT and your first honored member, Mr. Billy Womack!  The 2008 crew from PWCoffshore took center stage in support of the induction of Billy Womack as the first honored member to be recognized for his contributions to the Long Beach to Catalina and Back event. The precedent has been set in infamy, Billy Womack has set the standard, nobody will ever forget it. I remember Billy racing on a Waveblaster many years ago, he was the 'blaster master' and set a furious and fast pace, exactly what offshore racing needed. 

Endurance racing always held an audience that wasn't quite mainstream, and those who are passionate about it have the blisters, the breaks and the broken boats to talk story about after each and every session, some things will never change, only increase with the HP race we are now enjoying....it is fitting to give way to the Pirates of the Open Seas...the OFFSHORE riders of today, a unique breed of PWC enthusiasts, unlike any other.

Billy seemed to be unassuming and quiet, until he hit the fast track to outer bounds, his tenacity flew away for the wins he garnered. As a champion he was focused and leveled the swells in front of him to push the time envelope, he proved himself repeatedly over years one the offshore circuit. The core group of dedicated racers held the offshore endurance racing within it's own boundaries. Few could appreciate the hard hits and stamina needed on the physical realm and not to discount the desire. Equipment was the compliment. To win you needed a harder charger PWC that could take the edge of no return. A real Mr. Nice Guy.

Out to sea to an offshore island and back home to the edge of a continent, landing near the historic Queen Mary, 'the majestic symbol of the seas of transit', wasn't just an act of faith, it takes grit, and as Billy said in his acceptance speech, 'rough water, can't see the island, just the way you like it, and tomorrow you will appreciate your rebate check!'. The earned hits your body feels from the torturous and enduring pace, trying to beat the best and keep up with the pack was what fueled Womack to stay the course. Checkered flags welcomed him, he was rarely denied.

It's not easy to say goodbye to a champion, everyone wants to know where Billy Womack is? He's now the #1 PWCOffshore Hall of Famer, keeping with his industrious past. He'll always be #1 for the LB2CAT, everyone else will be 2, 3, 4 and so on...A nice way to end a new beginning. Congratulations Mr. Womack.

Special kudos to Ross Wallach of RPM Racing Ent, his staff, the team and all who love endurance racing.

Shawn Alladio-A fan


Steve Friebe, Inducted in 2012

The racers selected to the PWCOFFSHORE Racing Hall of Fame have been selected for their contribution to our sport and overall impact they have had on the offshore racing community and sport as a whole. These racers are truly the elite of the elite. Up until this point, there has been only one worthy of the honor and that was Mr. Billy Womack way back in 2008. We are pleased to announce that there is another member worthy of the honor!


#2 The man called “THE FAMOUS ONE,” Mr. Steve Friebe!

Recently retired (for the second time) Steve Friebe has been racing watercraft professionally for 14 years with multiple National Championships including the 2011 Triple Crown of Offshore Champion, 2011 DJSA Champion, a Mark Hahn 300 Mile National Champion and the list goes on and on. Steve is also a committed PWC race technician by trade and is arguably one of the best technicians in the country. Those who know Steve know him as a tenacious racer, class act and a man of integrity whose actions speak louder than his words. You won’t find a person more willing to jump in and assist another racer. Steve, you are one of the best, congratulations, you deserve it. 


John Belton, Inducted in 2012 

The racers selected to the PWCOFFSHORE Racing Hall of Fame have been selected for their contribution to the offshore Jet Ski / PWC sport and overall impact they have had on the offshore racing community and sport as a whole. These racers are truly the elite of the elite. 

The 3rd member to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is John Belton. John Belton was the most experienced rider selected to be a PWCOFFSHORE Racing Sponsored Racer in 2008. John has been riding personal watercraft for 25 years and has spent the vast majority of his life on the water through sailing and other offshore sports. Mild mannered, but don’t be fooled! This is a marathon runner, motocross rider, Mark Hahn 300 Mile Race Champion with many wins under his belt from decades on the water. The consummate professional nick-named "The Master" by his peers, John has earned the respect of veteran racers from well over 1200 (yes, that is 1200) Long Beach to Catalina and back rides on a PWC and countless hours spent on the ocean sailing his sailboat. Simply put, John is one of the most knowledgeable, experienced PWC offshore riders in the world. A tremendous wealth of information for offshore riding and racing related topics, there is nobody on the water today that knows the Long Beach to Catalina channel as well as John. A master at reading the water, predicting sea state, astute at navigation, a mentor and great friend to many and a class act to boot. John Belton, congratulations again and welcome John Belton to the PWCOFFSHORE Hall of Fame!



Mike Follmer, Inducted in 2013

The PWCOFFSHORE.COM Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to induct its newest member, into the PWCOFFSHORE.COM Endurance Racing Hall of Fame he is “The Chief” AKA Mike Follmer! 

Mike Follmer has been involved in racing for over 30 years and has set the standard for professionalism in racing that sponsors gravitate to for sponsorship and support. Not only is Mike a capable racer with an overall win at the Mark Hahn 300 Mile Endurance Racing National Championship with partner Billy Womack, and an additional Mark Hahn Podium finish, as an advocate for offshore and endurance racing, Mike Follmer brought the Long Beach to Catalina and Back (“LB2CAT”) Offshore National Championship Race back in 2006. It is very possible that if Mike didn’t push for the LB2CAT race to be reincarnated, this historic and epic race might not be here today for all of us to enjoy. Mike is also the man behind bringing Mark Hahn’s vision of a 300 mile endurance race to fruition in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Under Mike Follmer’s leadership, the Mark Hahn 300 Mile Endurance race is now the international Endurance Race that attracts endurance racers from all over the world to participate in pursuit of the Mark Hahn National Endurance Title and the opportunity to compete against and potentially beat the best endurance racers in the world. Those of us involved in Endurance Racing owe Mike Follmer a tremendous debt of gratitude for the contribution that he has made over the past decade in keeping endurance racing not only surviving, but thriving. 

There are many class championships that we could read through here today; suffice it to say that Mike was the man to beat back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when he was a fixture in endurance races on lakes across the United States. Mike’s expertise in other forms of racing that he transferred over to PWC Racing provided him with a distinct advantage, especially when it came to Pit Crew processes and methodologies. Follmer’s Pit Crew methodology has been the foundation of operating Pit Crew processes that many have used and attempted to emulate and refine as our sport has evolved.

Congratulations Chief, you are OFFICIALLY one of the best, rest assured that your contributions will not be forgotten, your legacy will live on forever. Congratulations Chief! 



Doug Brown, Inducted in 2013

Our fifth induction into PWCOFFSHORE.COM Racing Offshore Hall of Fame is Doug Brown! 

Doug started racing competitively in 1995 and would rise to the top of the “guys to attempt to beat in offshore racing.” When racers came to the line and saw Doug, he was one of a finite group of racers there to win and likely would, especially if the water was big. Doug was one of the few that was an OFFSHORE RACER’s racer. Doug pursued big water and relished the race days that the seas were up; those days that the water would be alive and separate the meek from the strong. With over 6000 miles of offshore and endurance races, Doug would be one of the very few that would bring home the illusive LB2CAT Offshore National Champion Title and is a member of the PWCOFFSHORE Platinum Club. The heart of a true racer, Doug would not only achieve success on the water, he would also be successful racing Motorcycles, Class 1 Buggies and Trophy Trucks in the desert.

Doug would retire a few times, but like so many with the passion that makes a champion, he would come back to compete and win again. There are too many positive race results to go through, suffice it to say Doug was a tremendous competitor and has left his mark on offshore racing that will last forever. 

Doug, we thank you for your contributions to Offshore Racing, you are now officially one of the best, forever…. Your success will not be forgotten, congratulations and welcome to the PWCOFFSHORE Hall of Fame! 



Mark Dobson, inducted into the PWCOFFSHORE Racing Hall of Fame in July of 2016. 

Congratulations to one of the few elite that merit Hall of Fame Status: About Mark Dobson: When Mark Dobson, Starting racing a PWC at the early Baja Promotions endurance races in Mexico in 1993, it was an inauspicious start but one that numerous others also made that same year as they were the first to explore this new world of PWC endurance racing. During those early years there were many Pro’s from the closed course circuit that tried to cherry pick endurance races thinking they would get an easy win but it was the hard riding and brutally fit riders like Mark Dobson and other dedicated endurance experts that really stole the shows repeatedly.

Dobber was one of a hand full of YAMAHA Factory riders like Clay Cullen, Billy Womack and Mike Follmer who set the standards for endurance racing while helping each other to prep and race their YAMAHA race boats. Mark was the consummate innovator and test mule for anything related to obtaining more speed or a better ride out of his PWC. Most of what Mark installed or fabricated worked and a few were epic failures like the scoop grate he tried during a Long Beach to Catalina and Back race that launched him in one of the biggest get off’s in PWC history.

Regardless of what he had, the one thing you could always count on Mark for was the fact that if he was running he was probably in the lead pack and everyone knew he would provide some form of entertainment sometime during the race. Joining forces with David Wulff and Jaime Lopez at Lobo Racing provided Mark with some extra resources to improve his game.

Racing at venues like Big Bend, Parker, and Blue Water on the Colorado River, Lake Havasu, Lake Cahuilla, Lake Isabella, Castaic Lake, Lake Evans, Oceanside, Barstow, Laughlin, Lake Elsinore and venues in Mexico like Ensenada and San Felipe. And the biggest race of the year always being the Long Beach to Catalina & Back event. Always one to challenge, Mark joined some magazine staffers for a ride from San Francisco, down the Pacific Coast to Long beach on one occasion.

Mark joined the Water World Show at Universal Studios where he performed stunts on PWC for the crowd on the Studio Tour. That led to his joining the Stuntman’s Association and doing PWC and other stunts professionally for movies, television and commercials.

Mark Dobson is truly one of the elite in offshore and endurance racing. His legacy will live on.

Copyright 2018. 



KC Heidler, Inducted November 23, 2019:  

Overview of KC Heidler Induction Speech: 


K.C.’s many accomplishments include the following:

1. Three-time IJSBA Vet-Master World Champion (2002, 2003 and 2005)

2. Pro-Western States Cup Arena Cross Tour Champion (2006)

3. Two-time 2nd place overall podium finisher of the Triple Crown of Offshore 

4. Multiple podium finishes at the Long Beach to Catalina and Back Offshore National Championship Race 

5. Podium finisher at the Mark Hahn 300-mile National Championship Endurance Race (2012)

6. In 2013, K.C. was awarded the PWCOFFSHORE Warrior Award for his performance on the racecourse, as well as his ambassadorship for offshore racing in collaboration with PWCOFFSHORE to grow the sport.

7. KC was awarded the “Less than 60 minutes LB2CAT round trip” Award for making the round trip in less than 60 minutes on race day.  

8.  KC was awarded the Mark Hahn Trophy in 2015


If you know the history - K.C. was introduced to his father’s Kawasaki 440 stand-up Jet Ski back in the early 80’s. By the time KC entered adolescence, his early mornings were spent on long treks on the Colorado River testing his endurance – an exercise that would serve him well in the following years when he transitioned to racing. 


At the beginning of KC’s racing career, he had all the skill and talent that resulted in no problem leading races, but all kinds of problems blowing up engines and finishing races. A common question posed to KC was “Did you break it again?”  

KC approached work associate and friend Peewee Price who was well known as a skilled sprint drag racing car technician, but knew little about jet ski engines at the time… Pewee agreed to Crew Chief for KC and those car skills clearly ended up being transferable to KC’s boats, starting with that famous Yamaha GP 1200R that KC won the three world championships on; The quality of KC’s engine builds would finally equal his riding skill. 

The result was a reversal FROM those blown engines TO many victories including a few world championships (three to be exact), Offshore podiums, closed course podiums and championships – all with the support of his committed friend and technician Peewee Price; Peewee, ALWAYS flanked by his beautiful bride Brandi and her brother Chad at his side. Racing at the Professional level is a team sport and KC had a loyal, committed, great Price team around him. 


A few observations and memories come to mind when we remember KC’s offshore racing career: 

1. Fun fact, so in addition to KC having a really cool, purpose built name for pro racing - K--C--Heidler (is that a cool name or what) and without trying - always looking the part of a pro racer (without trying to, or any effort to “LOOK” cool, KC always looked cool). A magazine once described KC as looking like a “storm trooper” flying across the water. How cool is that! 

2. The time KC showed up to race the 52-mile Dana Point to Oceanside and back race after he had just completed a triathlon earlier in the same morning. So yes, he did a triathlon and a 52-mile offshore race in the same morning on the same day. 

3. At KC’s last race, the 2017 Mark Hahn 300-mile race, KC took a nasty ejection in large wind waves, that ejection resulted in a compound fracture of his leg, after swimming a mile in whitecaps and recovering his boat, he still completed the second half of the 300-mile race with that broken leg. He did not quit. The lesson and message here is one of Mental toughness that’s required to be successful in our sport.  (As Billy Womack would say – there’s always a rebate check after a day in rough water….. KC was feeling the rebate check from that race for a few months) And oh by the way, he painted his knee-high cast Kawasaki green and put a large PWCOFFSHORE.COM racing sticker on it – true story

4. Completing the 2013 Long Beach to Catalina race that presented five-foot seas with handlebars on his Kawasaki that had broken clean through due to the rough seas. 

5. Pushing the navigation envelope to a new level of technical innovation and redundancy, building on what Billy Womack had started – and doing so with a heck of a lot of duct tape and crazy looking pyramid mount that everyone wondered what the hell it was and wanted to look at, little did they know there was more navigation gear it they mount than most 50-foot yachts! – all done with support and innovation of loyal friend and technician Peewee Price 

6. Saving the 2012 Dana Point to Oceanside race, ensuring the race would even happen that day – KC you remember what you did…. 

7. Thinking out of the box: Initiating and executing the idea of going to the Cortez Bank 96 miles offshore and doing so unassisted with no chase boat, carrying our own refuel and in small craft advisory waters, only to be turned back at San Clemente Island because of that advisory (the second Island out there beyond Catalina). 

8. Always being a gentleman and sporting a smile on his face:  In a highly competitive racing arena where many are critical or even petty, never did we hear a negative word about KC. This was a result of his humility, his generosity, character, respect for others and genuine nice nature. Character traits that we hear describing KC’s father George Heidler who many of us did not have the honor of meeting, but have met through KC and can see through KC here today. 

9. Loyal friend and devoted technician Peewee Price - always by his side, with extended family of Chad and all of the Price racing family there to work and support KC - he could not have done it without them, no question. 


In closing, KC Heidler’s legacy is the embodiment of a professional level offshore racer; a true athlete that utilized Iron Man triathlons to train for offshore PWC racing, he demonstrated class on and off the track, sportsmanship and tenacity on the race course. 

Peewee Price and KC became known as a very formidable team that everyone looked up to and respected. In addition to the entire Pit Crew, the success that KC enjoyed on the race course is shared with Peewee, Brandi and Chad who were always there burning the midnight oil, turning a wrench, buying a part, rebuilding an engine in their garage, towing a boat, testing, creating a redundancy plan or whatever it took to win; and having a hell of a lot of fun and community doing it. 


Pewee worked hard, really hard.  Having witnessed the relationship between these two, its inspiring; Two loyal friends who have always had each other’s back and made magic on the race course; that legacy will now live on forever in the Hall of Fame.  So, KC and Peewee, congratulations on the success and KC your induction, you deserve it. A big round of applause for hall of fame number 7, Mr. KC Heidler!    


#8 Lou Peralta, Inducted November 23, 2019 - First Race Promoter ever inducted to the PWCOFFSHORE Hall of Fame 

 

Actual induction speech: We welcome LOU PERALTA – the first PROMOTER – to the PWCOFFSHORE Hall of Fame!

Lou - We are thankful that way back in the day, that you gazed upon San Felipe and Diablo Peak…. But more on that later:

It all started with Lou and Louis. Lou is the one that had the idea of racing a JetSki to Catalina and back. 

From the outset you can’t write something about Lou Peralta without mentioning Louis Peralta, his wife of 58 years and counting and mother of their children. Since 1966 Louis has been at his side, working racing venues just as hard as him.  There is a reason why they called it Peralta racing, not “Lou” Peralta racing – it’s because they were a team. 

From becoming a musician and an actor and producer, editor, director and distributor in the film and television business; to jump in with all four feet, to build the first skateboard park in the world in 1976 called SkaterCross in Reseda. Then starting Mini Baja where Lou thought to include R/C Off-Road cars inside the Reseda skatepark (first of its kind in the United States).

In 1986 Lou and Louis became promoters of off-road events in Baja California establishing their Baja Promotions company, becoming the biggest American Promotions company in Mexico presenting 22 off-road Motorcycle/ATV Gran Prix and Enduro events, and Off-Shore events in one year!

The Offshore JetSki racing events *especially the LB2CAT* is what has led to Lou’s induction to the PWCOFFSHORE.COM Hall of Fame. The story is a good one and reads like a very cool history lesson:

Back history: Baja Promotions promoted an off-road race in mainland Mexico. Their sponsor was TECATE Beer. After the event Lou and Louis were invited by the Regional Manager of TECATE to go to Rocky Point, Puerto Peñasco. The idea was to promote another off-road race in the Coastal town starting and finishing at the Manager’s Beach Resort using local desert and sand dune areas. Invited to the lunch were the hotel owner, Tourism Director, Tecate’ s Regional Manager, the Mayor of Peñasco, Louis and Lou.

As they sat sipping on their favorite beer overlooking the Sea of Cortez, Lou asked, “What’s that on the horizon?” Before the owner of the hotel could answer, Lou interrupted and said, “Is that Diablo Peak?” (Diablo Peak is the highest mountain peak in Northern Baja California located behind the fishing town of San Felipe). The table confirmed, “Yes”. Lou’s next question was “How far is that from here.” The table replied in unison, “90 miles.” In his follow-up and where Lou’s mind was going, Lou said “Has anybody ever raced from here to San Felipe or San Felipe to here and back?”

It was at that very moment where the idea of racing JetSkis off-shore started. Lou thought a race from San Felipe to Puerto Peñasco would be awesome, thrilling, and just plain crazy. Someone had to do it…. The concept was born and would ultimately lead to what is now the legendary LB2CAT.

San Felipe is where Offshore JetSki racing was born. That first event prompted the Peraltas to seek other venues not only in Baja, like Rosarito Beach, Ensenada, Punta Estero, and of course San Felipe, but also in the US; Lake Isabella, Lake Dolores, Lake Elsinore, Lake Perris, Lake Havasu, Laughlin, Clear Lake, Ventura, Lake Cahuilla, the Salton Sea and of course Long Beach, where the “Long Beach to Catalina & Back race was established. That race was also known as LB2CAT, back in 1994.

The backstory and history of LB@CAT: Lou met with then City Manager for Long Beach, Harbor Master and Coast Guard Captain. The idea was intriguing to them as they wanted events that would bring more tourism to Long Beach. Lou was told to check the crossing and assess the conditions for PWC compatibility and safety. Lou was told that an early start for the race would be recommended before the channel got too rough (Good advice).

So, Lou and Lonnie took off on their JetSkis at 9 a.m. from Long Beach Harbor, followed by the 20-foot Bayliner with Louis, Coreen, Roger and others. The channel was smooth that morning resulting in a fast run… On Avalon Lou and Lonnie met with the Harbor Master and Coast Guard Captain. The meeting went well. Unlike today, JetSkis back then could not complete the race on one tank of fuel – So there was only one glitch, racers could refuel on Catalina but they had to take their boats out of the water, carry them to the dirt road above, put them in some type of container, and proceed with their refueling. This was a problem and a deal breaker for the Peraltas, except Lou told them he had a solution - they could refuel in the water. Lonnie looked at his Dad wondering what the heck he was talking about. That’s where the idea for the “ZUK-UP BIB” was born. And many of you will also remember Lou’s creation of a refuel barge off Catalina back in the day. True innovation….

Fast forward that same day in Avalon to 2:30 pm when they started their trek back to Long Beach, or so they thought……. As many in this audience know all too well, the channel changes on a dime, can be unforgiving, sometimes brutal, especially in the afternoon. 

Lonnie would end up drifted South to Huntington Beach due to the strong currents as Lou followed him fearing that the small PWC would run out of fuel and get lost. They had lost track of their Bayliner chase boat.  When they FINALLY made it back, it had taken them over 2 hours to make it back, Louis was exhausted and disheveled, Coreen still puking her lunch and Roger barely able to hold on to the wheel of the Bayliner chase boat. The channel crossing was rough water and white-caps that afternoon.. terrible conditions - or, great depending on your perspective. 

The channel mandated her rebate check on that day, Lou envisioned the challenge the channel would present to man/woman and machine…. And it was on, LB2CAT was born, and the rest is now history. 

Now you also know why Lou started every LB2CAT at 8 a.m.; so that all racers could *hopefully* get back by 11 a.m. to avoid the strong southerly currents, as one navigation challenged racer inevitably did and ended up 40 miles south in San Clemente Beach on race day. 

Final thoughts: Lou and Louis Peralta started something wonderful in Offshore JetSki racing. Lou it all started with you and Louis - From our perspective in this very moment, if not for you it is possible that none of us would know each other the way we all do right now. That if not for, JetSkis might have never started racing across the channel in the way they have now done for over 25 years. Lou and Louis created not only a venue for what is now extremely intense and competitive offshore racing, but also a family and fun atmosphere where friendships were made and flourished for decades as is evident right here, right now. 

For that Lou and Louis, we are very grateful. Thank you, Lou and welcome to the Hall of Fame!!

 

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