Best known for throttling the offshore Super Stock race boat Jackhammer, veteran racer of nearly 30 years Ricky Maldonado has found a new home in a new cockpit in a new class. Maldonado has signed on to compete as part of the large fleet of Doug Wright Powerboats who is aggressively looking to make a big splash in the world of offshore racing in 2023. He will be the throttleman in the red 38' Doug Wright catamaran in the 450 Stock Class, alongside new company owner JR Adan's son, Logan Adan, 17––who competed in his very first offshore race in this same boat last November at the Race World Offshore World Championships in Key West, FL.
"I think this opportunity came at the right time," Maldonado told Speedboat. "The right time for them and the right time for myself. The boat is amazing! I believe it's going to be a contender as soon as we show up at race number 1. We're going to be aiming for the win. Not for the podium... for the win!"
Maldonado is confident and optimistic in the skills of his young driver Logan, who comes from a hyper-competitive dirt track Modlite racing circuit, where the cars run over 100 mph and where Adan honed his competitive edge.
"(Logan) is a quick learner. We've been spending a lot of time together in the boat getting comfortable with each other, but more than that––becoming wired to one another," said Maldonado. "He started out as being very quiet, which was difficult in the beginning. But I told him 'I need to hear from you. Do you need more trim, less trim, do you need me to lift... what is the boat telling you?' Those kinds of things. We've been evolving and evolving and evolving and improving and improving and improving. We're now at the point where I don't need to lift anymore. He knows what to do, I know where to put the trim, and I think we're getting pretty good!"
Adan is optimistic as well and isn't taking this opportunity lightly. "I'm all in! It's very different than the dirt racing regarding the water, it's getting close for me to get comfortable in the big water. Ricky's definitely been a good teacher, coaching me through all of that," said Adan.
While leaving the Super Stock Class, where he ran a 32' Victory cat with twin Mercury Racing 300R outboard engines, Maldonado says running the larger 38-foot competitor with twin Mercury Racing 450Rs in the Factory Stock Class is an easy transition for him.
"While the acceleration is not there, the agility is not there because it's so much wider, so much longer, so much taller... is it faster? Yeah, it's faster because of the power-to-weight ratio, and the technology of the hull," admitted Maldonado. "With a 72-inch tunnel, there's a lot of air going underneath this thing. The rough water capabilities, the cornering capabilities are so good. And the safety of this boat? It's next level."
While Ricky is excited with his new team, this also means that Maldonado will be stepping away from Team Jackhammer, the home where he has raced for the past several years with his friend, business partner and team owner, Reese Langheim.
"Obviously we are still business partners. We work together almost every day but Jackhammer suffered a big impact (in Key West) with Randy Sweers in PlayTradez. We've been fixing it but in the meantime, this opportunity came up," said Maldonado. "Reese has been trying to stop racing for a while. I don't know how it's all going to end because we have (Ricky's son) Julian involved now, and with Dominick (Steele of Steele Racing), they're building a new (Doug Wright) 450 Factory Stock boat, which is on the way here. But when this opportunity came up, it's something I couldn't say no to. We have future plans, we have a really good racing plan put together and I believe it fits what I've been looking for."
On the future of Jackhammer, Maldonado says he will undoubtedly continue working with Langheim and the team should they return to the race course, as long as it doesn't hurt his current obligations with JR Adan and Team Doug Wright.
"Reese and I have no issues. We've been together for a long time now. I'll be honest with you, we became one, inside the boat. We're tough. We were hard to beat last season. We finished nine races in a row on the podium. And we could have won every one," said Maldonado.
Company and team owner JR Adan, like his son, is also "all in" and is as motivated to win as his new throttleman and descendant driver, if not more so. He plans to have five to six Doug Wright race boats competing offshore by the end of the season.
"We look forward to a great offshore racing season," said Adan. "We look forward to competing against the talented MTI teams throughout the year!"
The team's first race will be Race World Offshore's inaugural 7 Mile Offshore Grand Prix in Marathon, Fla. on April 28-30, 2023.