He may have officially started racing offshore boats in 1997, but Edward Smith has been a gearhead his whole life. Helping his dad Al build a speedboat in his Michigan backyard, Ed was indoctrinated into the marine world at an early age. He honed his craft building and racing hot rods and motorcycles, quickly becoming a master mechanic.
Fans of the offshore powerboat circuit know him as the affable owner/driver of the current World Champion Vee Extreme Class competitor Knucklehead Racing, a canopied 42′ Fountain originally known as Instigator. (The team, including throttleman Anthony Smith, took the APBA and OPA National Championship titles in 2019.) In July 2020, Ed was diagnosed with Stage 3 oropharynx (throat) cancer, choosing to not to immediately disclose the news to his friends and family and forge ahead with the racing season. Ultimately, it became impossible to hide the truth any longer, as Ed began undergoing radiation therapy and chemotherapy. After announcing his health battles, Ed made it clear that he intends for the boat to run during the 2021 season, “whether I’m in it or not.”
In addition to Ed and Anthony Smith, the Knucklehead team includes Ed’s longtime best friend and mechanic, Jim Spranger, who last year worked overtime dialing in the boat’s twin Sterling Performance V8 engines, which produce more than 1,800 combined horsepower. While Jim focuses on the boat’s interior, Jeff Diliberto takes care of all of the boat’s fiberglass and exterior needs. In 2020, the Fountain was totally stripped down for maintenance repairs.
Another crucial element is Ed’s son, Shawn Smith, who acts as the team’s backup throttleman and does maintenance work around the shop. Meanwhile, Rich Quandt is the team’s technical expert, reading the boat’s computer chips and interpreting what needs to be done for the team to reach its potential, and Rich York handles a lot of work that goes unnoticed, from helping out in the pits to snagging some photos from the race and even coordinating race events.
The staff of Speedboat Magazine sends its prayers to the entire team, salutes the incredible effort that has resulted in numerous wins, and wishes everybody good luck in 2021!