Showdown On Norman

May 2011 News

As our annual PDB magazine barrel race continues to grow, so does the number of participants. Three new manufacturers entered this year that did not race last year and it was also nice to see four different engine manufacturers represented as well. With the three different classes, the competition was just as steep as we've seen in recent years.

For our McKainer Barrel Race, named in honor of PDB contributor Dan McKain who passed away in 2008, we have each pontoon boat run the course individually. Five staff members with stop watches are responsible to determine the winner of each category and each time the races seem to get tighter and tighter. This year our race was held on beautiful Lake Norman in North Carolina. This NASCAR-driven area is known for fast cars and wild finishes, but on this day the water belonged to these top pontoon manufacturers.

Outboard 135-150hp

After taking a year off, Manitou returned in a big way to get our first race of the day started off right. Greg VanWagenen entered the 20 Aurora Lounger VP that was equipped with an Evinrude E-TEC 150 H.O. engine.  

The other driver in this race was Greg Barsoda from Berkshire, who is no stranger to barrel race victories. As the winner of this class from the previous year, Barsoda was ready to defend his title with the Berkshire 243 SLX pontoon with the BP3 package, powered by the Yamaha F150 TLR engine.

Excitement was in the air as these two manufacturers raced against the clock to determine the winner. Despite a quick 0 to 20 mph time of 5.10 seconds, it was the full throttle speed of 43.1 mph for the Manitou that proved to be the difference in this one as VanWagenen edged out the Berkshire by over eight seconds. We're thinking Manitou is probably glad they were able to make our race this year.   

Outboard 175-200hp

For the second year in a row, this class had the closest finish. Last time around it came down to literally hundredths of a second to determine the winner and this year it was nearly as close. Barsoda changed boats and climbed behind the wheel of the South Bay 722SL Trifecta, powered by the new Yamaha 200VMAX S.H.O. engine. Like the Berkshire, this South Bay pontoon is also manufactured by Forest River Marine.

Ernie Campbell from Crest Marine entered our barrel race for the first time, but you wouldn't know it by the way he was able to handle the 22 Caribbean SLX pontoon. The Crest boat, powered by a Mercury 200 XL Verado, had one of the quickest 0 to 20 mph times (4.39 seconds) out of all the boats that entered, including the higher outboard class.

Each manufacturer gets two tries at the course and we take the time from their best run. Campbell set the bar high with an impressive 1:03.26 time, but when it was all said and done, Barsoda with an averaged timed run of 1:02.64, edged out Crest for the win. Keep in mind these are averaged times from five hand-held stop watches, but for the second year in a row Barsoda was able to come out on top. His experience in these close races continues to really pay off.

Outboard 225hp +

Three manufacturers entered our last race of the day including first-time participant Tim Menne who drove the Premier 250 Grand Majestic Ltd., powered by the Yamaha 250 VMAX S.H.O. engine. Gary Phillips from Voyager Marine was back after a solid run in our barrel race last year. This time he brought the Extreme 25 CR/SL from Voyager that was powered by a Suzuki 250 SS engine. And the third pontoon in this race was the Manitou 22 Encore Pro Angler, powered by an Evinrude 250 E-TEC H.O. power plant.

With the defending champ unable to make it in time, a new winner was set to be crowned in this race. The 0 to 20 mph times on all three of these `toons was very impressive thanks to a solid collection of outboards from Evinrude, Suzuki and Yamaha. But similar to the first race of the day, Manitou's advantage in the overall top speed (51.6 mph) was just enough to win this one. Jon Miller turned in the quickest time of the day with a solid :56.66 run that edged out Premier (1:00.56) and Voyager (1.05.47) in a classic battle that is sure to continue in the future.

Trophy Roundup

Back at the dock the drivers all came together on the top deck at Queens Landing as trophies for the three races were awarded. We were thrilled to see Voyager and Manitou back for our annual race as well as new comers Crest and Premier.

Manitou drove off with two trophies and Forest River Marine with its South Bay pontoon took home the other as Barsoda successfully defended his title in the 175-200 class.

But even with these extremely close races that could have gone either way in some cases, everyone involved in our just-for-fun race acted with class and that's probably what we like the most about our industry.

The McKainer Barrel Race continues to grow each year and we hope to see a lot of return participants plus others when we all get together and do this again next fall.  




Outboard 135-150hp

Boat: Manitou 20 Aurora Lounger VP

Engine: Evinrude E-TEC 150 H.O.

Driver: Greg VanWagenen

0-20 mph: 5.29 seconds

Top Speed: 43.1 mph

Best Ave Run: 1:00.06


Boat: Berkshire 243SLX BP3

Engine: Yamaha F150 TLR.

Driver: Greg Barsoda

0-20 mph: 5.10 seconds

Top Speed: 38.1 mph

Best Ave Run: 1:08.89



Outboard 175-200hp

Boat: South Bay 722SL Trifecta

Engine: Yamaha 200 VMAX S.H.O.

Driver: Greg Barsoda

0-20 mph: 4.56 seconds

Top Speed: 46.2 mph

Best Ave Run: 1:02.64


Boat: Crest 22 Caribbean SLX

Engine: Mercury 200 XL Verado

Driver: Ernie Campbell

0-20 mph: 4.39 seconds

Top Speed: 39.1 mph

Best Ave Run: 1:03.26


Outboard 225hp +

Boat: Manitou 22 Encore Pro Angler

Engine: Evinrude E-TEC 250 H.O.

Driver: Jon Miller

0-20 mph: 4.81 seconds

Top Speed: 51.6 mph

Best Ave Run: 0:56.66


Boat: Premier 250 Grand Majestic Ltd.

Engine: Yamaha 250 VMAX S.H.O.

Driver: Tim Menne

0-20 mph: 4.36 seconds

Top Speed: 42.5 mph

Best Ave Run: 1:00.56


Boat: Voyager Extreme 25 CR/SL

Engine: Suzuki 250 SS

Driver: Gary Phillips

0-20 mph: 4.49 seconds

Top Speed: 44.7 mph

Best Ave Run: 1:05.47

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