Presenting a new regular feature for Powerboat Nation: Periodically, we’ll showcase a high-profile powerboater—someone from the world of racing, or poker running, or just someone whose passion for the sport really stands out in a unique way.
To kick off this feature, we spoke to Billy Allen, owner-throttleman of Team Allen Lawn Care. Allen has been racing since 2016, but in that short time, he’s already experienced enough exhilarating highs and devastating lows to last a lifetime.
Last week, the nation watched in horror as Allen and his driver, Larry Pinegar—along with his LPC competitors Mike Wright and Loren Peters—suffer a double-blowover accident at the Key West World Championships, causing major damage to both boats. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured.
Allen, 51, is the owner of Des Moines, IA-based Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping. Established in 1988, the company provides the best in professional outdoor services, from the lawn care and landscaping their name suggests, to trucking, dumpster rentals, commercial snow removal and more. With more than 10,000 customers served, the business is wildly successful. And it has given Allen the opportunity to indulge in his seemingly unquenchable need for speed—not just in boat racing, but in auto competition as well. “We started racing dirt stock cars and dirt ‘late model’ stock racing cars in 1990,” Allen says. “We raced anywhere from 70 to 117 nights a year in the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) and Midwest Latemodel Racing Association (MLRA) circuits.”
Team Allen Lawn Care launched its boat racing career in 2016, operating a 26’ Velocity vee-bottom in Superboat International’s (SBI) Production 4 class, and a 30-foot Phantom for the Offshore Powerboat Association’s (OPA) Classes 5 and 6. Both boats were I/O powered; owner/throttleman Billy Allen’s driver was originally Rick Portel of Johnston, IA. From 2016 to 2018, their OPA racing was limited to their home waters of the Lake of the Ozarks.
Allen’s inaugural SBI race was in Michigan City that year, where they earned a victory with an average speed of 53.33 mph. The team took another win in Clearwater over Team Woody, Team Raven, Yabba Dabba Doo, Two Cruel and Reinforcer, but having only raced part of the season, they didn’t have the points for a National Championship. Then they were bested at the Key West World Finals running up against Crazy Chicken.
However, their 2017 season proved to be quite an achievement. Now racing with his son Andrei Allen, the team finished in third place at the season opener in Cocoa Beach, FL, but then consistently grabbed the checkered flag for the rest of the year: in Mentor, OH, followed by Michigan City, IN, Clearwater, FL, and Key West. They were the National and World Champions in 2017. It was nothing short of mesmerizing.
For 2018, Allen swapped the Phantom for a 32-foot Doug Wright hull, switched to Superboat Stock class and learned the ins and outs of outboard engines. (The boat was powered by twin Mercury Racing 300s). His competitors would now be the likes of FJ Propeller, Shadow Pirate, CR Racing and Jackhammer—a class famously known for being very tight-knit and willing to help each other out on virtually any issue.
“My son and I were running the boat together at the time, and I really wanted to get a canopy over my head,” he says. “We were aiming to go into the Super Vee Light class, but ended up putting a deal together with Mark Waddington of Performance Boat Center with the Doug Wright hull. Andy Sanders rigged the boat. Those guys did a wonderful job getting us going.”
Allen finished fifth the first time out, in Cocoa Beach, grabbed a second-place finish in Michigan City, fifth in Clearwater and third in Key West. It wasn’t quite as spectacular as the team’s first full-blown SBI season, but pretty darn respectable for a team with a new boat, new engine setup and in an entirely new class.
“We had some pretty rough races this year,” Allen told Speedboat Magazine in Michigan City last year. “We’re all new to this game, and it’s been a heck of a learning curve. But so far, we’re learning. I guess we’re headed in the right direction.”
With Superboat out of the picture in 2019, Team Allen Lawn Care was all in for the new OPA season and its APBA Offshore Championship Series collaboration with Powerboat P1. Now running in OPA’s Super Stock class, Allen welcomed a new partner, Larry Pinegar, after son Andrei decided to bow out of the racing circuit. The team’s season highlight was in Sarasota, where they took the win over FJ Propeller, Performance Boat Center/Auto Alert and 10 other competitors. Unfortunately, it was their only podium finish of the season.
Race World Offshore took over the Key West World Championships, and Team Allen was one of 10 teams participating in Super Stock class—one of which was Billy Allen’s good friend former OPA Class 5 competitor Mike Wright, who had throttled the former WIA Marine Insurance 29’ Warlock and would now be racing LPC in Super Stock with driver Loren Peters.
The 2019 World Finals was a three-day event, with the first day of racing just one week ago: Wednesday, Nov. 6. During the Super Stock race, Team Allen Lawn Care and LPC were running side by side when both appeared to each take too much air under the tunnels, blowing both over simultaneously. The double blowover was exceedingly rare in the sport, and video footage of the accident quickly went viral. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, but both hulls suffered major damage. Speedboat Magazine co-publisher Ray Lee was live on Saturday via Facebook with a livestream and interview with Allen and Pinegar in which he gave viewers a close-up view of the extent of the boat’s damage.
“We got hit on the transom, then on the canopy about 18 inches behind Larry’s head,” he says. “The canopy held up, but a hole was punctured in the canopy itself. Then all the water hit the back of that bulkhead right by his left shoulder. That blew the bulkhead in, and the canopy instantly filled up with water and blew the lid off the top of it.”
As terrifying as the accident was, Allen says it all happened very quickly, and the response from the rescue team was immediate. “When the divers that were on their boat came over, we flagged them off. We were already out of our boat, and there was no need to put them in the water as well. We had ingested some water; as for the LPC crew, Loren was pretty shook up and sustained a leg injury, while Mike had a laceration to his leg as well.”
Despite the accident, Allen says he has greatly enjoyed participating in the Super Stock class with his teammates, who take great relish playing the occasional prank on one other. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes as far as the jokester stuff,” Allen laughs. “Especially with the CR Racing crew and us. The first night we were here, I came back to my Geo Tracker SUV to find that my little Honda Ruckus moped was in the back seat upside down. They pull jokes on us, we pull jokes on them. It’s always something.”
With his boat in shambles, Allen’s immediate concern is getting it repaired. But whether he and his team will be able to get everything shipshape in time for the 2020 season is anybody’s guess.
“It’s all hugely up in the air,” Allen says. “There’s been talk between Doug Wright and Performance Boat Center to put a package together,” Allen says. “They’re working on a quote for me to get the boat fixed.”
In addition to the Doug Wright, Allen is also the owner of a 2002 38′ Cigarette Top Gun, which he uses at his Lake of the Ozarks home, located near the 13-mile marker. He is married to Tammy Allen, who also enjoys the sport.