LARRY GOLDMAN WORKED ON AND RACED CATAMARANS. BUT HE’S BEST REMEMBERED THE WORLD OVER FOR HIS EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD NATURE.
By Simon Murray
By definition, the souped-up catamarans that compete in Poker Runs America — high-speed powerboat races held across the country — are all flash, pageantry, pomp and razzle-dazzle. They also move like the dickens.
Piloted by speed demons, they are the modern, supercharged ilk of the offshore racing boats in 1980s Miami that skipped across the water like stones. Having the stones to pilot one, both back then and today, requires a certain character, maybe even a larger-than-life figure, to the point where it’s hard to tell where the flashiness of the man ends and that of the machine begins.
Yet, that wasn’t the case with Larry Goldman, founder of Xtreme Powerboats in Miami. Goldman, who passed away this year, was a devoted family man and a permanent fixture at most major Poker Runs, charity events and Florida’s local boat shows. He was known in industry parlance as a “rigger”— someone who fixes, services and works on boats. Gino Gargiulo, his teammate and partner of more than 20 years, remembers him best for his cheerful, courteous and extremely generous demeanor.
“He was the glue that really held all of these events together because he was the guy that dragged everybody,” says Gargiulo. “He was the guy that forced everybody in Miami to go to places like Kentucky and would get everybody’s boat ready. What was so incredible about the guy was he would help everybody.”
Over the years, the two men worked on 12 boats together (six by the Missouri-based Marine Technology Inc.), designing and racing them as driver (Gargiulo) and throttleman (Goldman). The newest was a 52-foot, all-carbon-fiber, lime-green cat designed to match (down to the taillights and air vents) Gargiulo’s Lamborghini Aventador SuperVeloce (SV) Roadster. Gargiulo estimates it contains 100,000 custom Lamborghini parts.
“There’s so much of him in the boat,” says Gargiulo. “Every month he would fly to Missouri to check on the progress.”
The two men had an unbreakable bond developed over years of racing together. They were so close that they could anticipate each other’s moves, according to Gargiulo. In 2010, they broke the speed record for pleasure boats at a cool 193 MPH. (You can see a video of their run on YouTube, still a record). They also surpassed a long-standing endurance record which had stood for more than 28 years. Blasting from Miami to the Bahamas and back again, they finished the run in — get this — one hour and 44 seconds!
Although outside the boat the partners were known for their camaraderie, in the boat they fought like cats, says Gargiulo. He likens their racing relationship to marriage.
“In the boat we would fight from the second we got in to the second we got out,” he says, chuckling. “He always insisted on telling me where to go. And it was like, ‘You do your job and I’ll do mine!’”
Their relationship was irreplaceable. After Goldman’s passing, Gargiulo decided to put the SV up for sale. The Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, in Missouri, was the first race he attended after his friend passed away. He wasn’t planning to go, but “I had a hundred people — a thousand people — talk me into going on this event,” says Gargiulo. “I opened up the hatch to turn the batteries on, and the first thing I see is Larry’s life jacket sitting there. It just killed me. As the day went on, I had probably 50 people come up to me and share stories about him.”
Gargiulo adds, “He was just one of those guys… friends with everyone.”