DEPUE – Paul Bosnich III and Jake Hoffert grew up together on the shores of Lake DePue at the boat races. This year, they both brought USTS Points Championship back to DePue.
Bosnich was crowned as the 350 Runabout season champion while Hoffert won top honors in the 1100 Hydro. Both race for the Prop Riders Racing Team out of DePue, of which Bosnich said “without them we couldn’t get in the water.”
Bosnich said it was “pretty neat to bring it home” and share it with Hoffert as well as Bosnich’s nephew, 18-year-old Ethan Fox of Council Bluffs, Iowa, who won the 125 Runabout crown for the first time and also races for Prop Riders.
“To be able to see Jake from where he started four or five years ago to where he is now, it’s just been awesome to be able to be involved with that. He helps me out a ton,” Bosnich said. “It’s just nice to be able to share that with him and my nephew, Ethan. He won his first points championship. That’s just nice to be able to bring that home for our team.”
Hoffert, 33, who has been racing for eight years, had won the 500 Hydro in 2018, but this was his first title in the 1100. What makes Hoffert’s championship even sweeter is that it was a “last dance” in the water, and he plans on turning his boats over to younger drivers next year.
“I told everybody this is going to be my last year driving for a little while, at least,” he said. “Let some of the younger kids in there. I’m going to keep everything [boats] in there and find somebody to drive it for me. I wanted to win that championship, and that’s what we set out to do.”
Hoffert raced in seven races this season, making two 12-hour trips to Arkansas and New York, which make for a demanding schedule. He said he has some understanding bosses where he works at T and T Lawn Care.
“I told him when I took the job. ‘There’s one thing I do in the summer. I’m gonna need a couple weekends off,’ ” he said. “Sometimes its really hard to get away. We raced Saturday morning in Centralia, and I left Friday night and didn’t get down there until almost midnight. Went to the hotel and went down to the lake Saturday morning and got second at nationals.
“You got to try to finagle and work at the same time, and sometimes it’s a little tough.”
Hoffert has battled Ray Bradford of Michigan this year, trailing by 56 points heading into this weekend’s last race at Pleasant Prairie, Wis. He placed fourth which was enough to boost him to the top.
“One race he’d be ahead, next race I’d bump back ahead. A lot of back and forth,” Hoffert said. “You got to drive a little smarter to get back in that position. But it came down to the wire.
“I set my goal to win that 1100. The past couple years it’s been a little rough. This year made it even harder, because we’ve got eight or nine boats in every single race, so you really had to work to get it.”
Hoffert, 33, has been racing for eight years, and while he said he’ll never say never about racing again, it’s going to be a good break for now.
The old pro
While only a year older than Hoffert, Bosnich, 34, has been racing for 23 years. He has won 14 season championships but was keeping a real close eye on this year’s 350 crown, which he won for the fifth straight year.
“I really didn’t look at it until after DePue, honestly,” he said. “You just don’t think about it. I guess you hope for the best for the season and as you get toward the end you start planning a route how you can win and what you need to do to put that together.
“I was lucky enough where Mike Krier didn’t go to one or two races, or didn’t get points in one or two races. You just got to play the game. Once you get to the end of the year, things start to shake out and you can kind of see where you standing.”
Bosnich was leading by 408 points and didn’t need to finish the race and would have won the title as runner-up Jerry Davis didn’t race in Michigan.
“Since he didn’t come, that kind of shored up my champions. Makes it a little easier going into the weekend, knowing that you got the championship as opposed to having to go out and win or do something crazy,” Bosnich said.
He took a second at DePue in 350 this year in a boat borrowed from Todd Brinkman.
“It was a good boat, but it’s not yours,” Bosnich said. “You know you spend all your time and effort to get your boat just perfect and the way you like it, then you got to jump into something else. I’m thankful for it, don’t get me wrong. It definitely put me in the hunt to win the championship.
Bosnich also would have been in the running in the 250 had he not had a collision with Rich Krier that “pretty much demolished my boat” at his hometown Lake DePue.
“At least I would have a shot where I didn’t have a shot at all. But that’s racing, unfortunately,” he said.
While Bosnich is done racing boats for the season, he’s taking his son, appropriately named Rayce, to race go carts in Indianapolis. He said when you go from being the son and racing to the dad, it’s a completely different ball game, but he’s adapting.
Fox, 18, a senior at Treynor High School in Council Bluffs, won the Points title for the first time and can’t wait to get back on the water next year.
“Honestly, it’s just got me more excited for next year. I’m finally getting the hang of it,” he said.
Kevin has been sports editor of the BCR since 1986 and previously was sports editor of the St. Louis Daily News, Tazewell News and ISU Daily Vidette. He is a 2021 inductee into the IBCA Hall of Fame as a media member.