1988, was the third and final year for the Miami-Nassau-Miami Searace. The thing that made the race an interesting challenge and a true “racer’s race” were the things that also hindered it from surviving, much less ever growing as an event. The distance away from shore made spectatorship impossible, without spectators, there are no advertisers, no sponsors, and almost certainly no prize money. Furthermore, even if there were spectators the racing was relatively boring, no challenging turns, no thrilling passes, no spectacular accidents, just hours of running straight, hoping something didn’t break.
The match up for the final race would be a lot more of a challenge for Theodoli and his 63’ Magnum. Fabio Buzzi, someone with the same understanding of high-performance diesel engines, as Theodoli, was going to enter his boat “Gancia Dei Gancia” in the race. Normally he wouldn’t have spent the money to ship the boat to the USA, for the Miami-Nassau-Miami race, but was going bring his boat to the United States, for that year’s “Offshore World Cup” in Key West anyway, giving him the chance to challenge Theodoli on home territory with a boat much more similar in concept than those that raced against the Magnum the previous years. “Gancia Dei Gancia” was a serious threat as she had already won 16 of the 20 races she competed in that year, along with the World Championship and she was equipped with 4, reliable SeaTek diesel engines, designed by Buzzi himself.
Theodoli understood that he finally had challenger with a real chance at surviving 7 hours of punishment and winning. Buzzi’s boat was also fast, with the ability to reach 110mph, but Theodoli surmised, correctly, that there was no way a 44’ boat could maintain that speed in high seas. However, Theodoli also realized, that the 70mph last year’s boat was capable of, wouldn’t be enough. The awesome lightweight CRMs from the previous year, were like, elegant thoroughbreds. Every pound accounted for, and every last bit of potential coaxed out. There was no modifying a CRM, it was already the best it could possibly be, and the company had no interest in letting Theodoli mess with their racehorse. Roger Penske however, felt differently. In 1988 in a joint venture with General Motors, Penske founded the Detroit Diesel Corporation, with Penske having a 60% ownership. Penske, wanted DDC, as it would come to be known, to build the best and most powerful marine engines anywhere and realized that Theodoli and Magnum would be the perfect partners in bringing this to fruition. Penske, like Theodoli, was also a racer and wanted to win. Penske and Theodoli discussed the project and a set of specially heavily modified DDC 16v92s were delivered to Magnum. These motors were to run without a muffler, had two oil coolers, four turbos, and modified cylinders. The standard 16v92 of the day had 1,400hp, these motors probably had 2,200hp* each. The horsepower was only estimated, as the motors were delayed in manufacturing and were never tested on a dyno, prior to, installation, which would ultimately lead to an unfortunate end to the race for Magnum. These new monster engines, were mated to Arneson ASD-14B-1-S drives, which were a set of strengthened ASD-14 drives and of course with custom Rolla propellers. In testing, the new 63’ ran 83mph, 10mph faster than the 1987 boat and 20mph faster than the 1986 boat. A stunning rate of evolution indeed.
Magnum 63’ (63-012)
Power: Detroit Diesel 16v92
Horsepower: 1400hp stock, 2,200hp race modified.
Drive: Arneson ASD-14B-1-S
Elapsed Race Time: N/A
The race began as all the previous ones had, except this time, all the boats ran out of Government Cut simultaneously, something that hadn’t happened before. Theodoli’s newest boat had performance to back up the endurance it had shown in the previous years. As they exited the cut and encountered real seas, which were 4-6ft and up to 10ft out in the Gulf Stream, Gancia Dei Gancia’s speed advantage was erased and for awhile both boats ran together, the Magnum guys in relative comfort and the Gancia Dei Gancia team taking a serious beating. If this was how the entire race was going to be, the Magnum team was sure that they could, once again, outlast the competition. However, this was not to be, as 20 minutes into the race, the Magnum 63’ blew a transmission. The horsepower was simply beyond what the Magnum team and Detroit Diesel had estimated. The ZF gear box simply couldn’t handle the raw power and torque thrown at it over the long haul and it failed.
Fabbio Buzzi continued the race and finished in 5hrs 40min, averaging 66mph. 66mph, is less than a 10mph improvement on the 1987 Magnum run, and easily attainable for the 1988 boat, had the gearbox not failed. In fact, Magnum had predicted an average of 68mph for the 1988 boat, with estimated 5hrs 30min for the race, keeping with the 10mph increases made the previous years.