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After 16 years away, Kirts excels in power boating

Longtime Bristol resident wins three heats in Okahoma races at age 71.
Posted on Oct. 15, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

BRISTOL — Dan Kirts has still got it.

After 16 years away from competitive racing, former national champion Kirts made more than a little splash when he won all three of his heats at the recent American Power Boat Association U.S. Title Series Green Country Championships on Copan Lake in Bartlesville, Okla.

Using a modified Konig power plant — “there’s a lot of me in that motor” — that he used to put together a series of six straight APBA titles concluding in 1996, the longtime Bristol resident shined again in the 350cc outboard hydroplane class at age 71.

“I’ve gotten phone calls from Florida and from California,” says Kirts, who says his motor can produce about 13,000 rpm and go around 95 mph with his 200-pound 12-foot, 8-inch boat. “I saw a lot of old faces, but more new faces.”

With Kirts back in the water, that makes three generations of racers in the family. Son Jim, 51, and grandson, Andy, 21, both of Davidson, Mich., also have the need for aquatic speed.

Jim Kirts races in the 500cc and 1100cc classes.

Running the same motor that his grandfather uses on Saturdays, Andy Kirts has been running in the 350cc runabout class on Sundays.

Kirts got out of racing in 1996 because of health problems, but the retired machinist says he is now in good health and works out three days a week — often with Merritt Lehman — at the Elkhart YMCA and hopes to compete in the World Indoor Rowing Championship in Boston this winter.

Kirts has also raced snowmobiles for 26 years.

On the snow, water or off, Kirts has that competitive spirit.

Photo Supplied

Dan Kirts, of Bristol, shows the form that earned the 71-year-old three heat victories at the recent American Power Boat Association U.S. Title Series Green Country Championships on Copan Lake in Bartlesville, Okla.

Photo Supplied

Dan Kirts, of Bristol, shows the form that earned the 71-year-old three heat victories at the recent American Power Boat Association U.S. Title Series Green Country Championships on Copan Lake in Bartlesville, Okla.

Truth Photo By Steve Krah

Dan Kirts works on his modified outboard motor in his Bristol area home. The 71-year-old Kirts first began racing boats at 9 and the former world champion recently returned to the sport after a 16-year hiatus.

Truth Photo Supplied

Dan Kirts, a former world champion powerboat racer who recently returned to the water after a long lay-off, works on his modified motor in his Bristol area home. The 71-year-old first started racing boats at age 9.




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