If running 120-mph in a single-engine 22-foot V-bottom doesn’t sound like fun to you, you’re probably not alone. Then again, you’re also not Stan Pike, a 66-year-old retired construction business owner and veteran offshore racer—he competed from 1974 through 1989—who lives outside Atlanta, Ga., After tiring of “getting passed by 100-mph bass boats” in his 18-foot Donzi Classic on his local waterways including Lake Lanier and Lake Martin, Pike bought a 1994 22 Donzi Classic with a 572-cubic-inch blower engine.
By the time Stan Pike gets the engine of his immaculately restored Donzi 22 Classic back from Sterling Performance Engines, he'll be eager to push the boat to its limit.
That was seven or eight years ago, he said. Since then, Pike has set about building what likely will be the fastest and most powerful—nobody keeps official records on such things—22-foot Donzi on the planet. His goal is to run the boat with a rebuilt engine tuned to 1,200 hp to 120 mph.
The first order of business was dumping his engine’s previous supercharger with a 4.5-liter unit from Whipple Superchargers in Fresno, Calif. Though he hasn’t run the engine on a dynamometer, he estimates its current output to be 1,000 hp.
Next, he hauled the Donzi to the famed Capt’n Nabber’s Shop in Morris, Ill., where the crew there blueprinted and added a pad to the 22-footer’s bottom. They even built a new dash for boat.
“We also took off the deck and added two bolster seats—PPI did all the interior work,” said Pike. “And I had the hull and stringers cored and added a five-foot hatch.”
From the start, Pike knew the Donzi’s rigging was a total disaster. So his next move was to send the boat to Grant Bruggemann at Grant’s Signature Racing in Bradenton, Fla.
“I said, ‘Grant, can you fix this thing?’” said Pike. “So he tore everything out and started from scratch.”
“Stan is an extremely patient person,” said Bruggemann. “He wants everything done right and he’s willing to wait. The boat was in dire need of some rigging and rewiring, so we pulled the engine and de-rigged the whole boat. We started from scratch.”
Bruggemann’s work included everything from replacing battery cables and rewiring the gauges and switches at the dash to rewiring cockpit lights and adding a new wiring harness to the big-block engine.
“They were actually able to tune the boat’s engine on Sarasota Bay,” he said.
Now that the boat is back with its owner, he’ll pull the engine and ship it to Mike D’Anniballe at Sterling Performance Engines in Milford, Mich. Pike said he expects D’Anniballe to coax 1,200 hp out of the supercharged powerplant, and that will be enough to give him all the juice he needs to push the boat, which is equipped with an IMCO SCX drive and two switchable fuel tanks, to 120 mph.
For a closer look at the project, check out the slideshow above.
Pike will send the engine to Sterling this winter. His goal is to have it back in the boat in time for spring. And then the real fun, at least in Pike’s eyes, begins.
“I’ve run 106 mph so far,” he said. “It runs so great and flat—you could drink a Coke and drive it at that speed.”
Editor’s Note: Look for a follow-up story on this project when the boat returns to the water this spring.