Offshore designer, builder, driver, record-setter
After making millions in California and Hawaii real estate, 40-year-old Tom Gentry was ready for retirement. Instead, he started a hugely successful second career as “The Fastest Man in Offshore.” From 1971 to 1994, Gentry won four offshore world championships (1976, 1987, 1991-2), two national titles (1983, 1992) and set numerous speed records. Perhaps none bigger than in 1989, when his 112-foot Gentry Eagle knocked 18.5 hours off British airline mogul Richard Branson’s New York-to-England transatlantic record, averaging 55.61 mph over the 62:07 run. The previous year he had won the Chapman Trophy for the fastest Miami-to-New York time: 19:17.57. Gentry was not just a racer, but an innovator. He designed and manufactured the Gentry turbos, surface drives and gearbox that came to dominate the sport. In 1993, Gentry received the UIM Gold Medal of Honor for his contributions to offshore racing. A month before the 1994 crash that left him in a coma until his death, Gentry set a UIM Class I world speed record in Team Gentry of 157.482 mph.