Enforcer R.C. Boat Talk

An Open Forum for Enforcer RC Boat Owners and Fans

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United States, FL, Lake Placid
Joined Mar 2012
80 Posts
In Memory Of John Starks

A sad day for model boating, and me. John Starks one of the pioneers of fast electric model boating, a friend, and a former employee of Warehouse Hobbies Inc. passed away today at age 65. John was one of a kind, very opinionated, but aren't many of us innovators? That's what I think made him different and stand out from the crowd and enable him to set fast electric records back in the late 80's with his custom designed and built tunnel boats and highly modified hand wound 540 electric outboard motors. Unlike today's 3-phase electric motors, running at speeds over 50 miles per hour and doing so with matched nicads and brushed electric motors took allot of time, skill and effort, and John did all of this for many years, and finally achieving his goal of a straight-away record in 1990, followed by a cover shot on Boat Modeler Magazine.
In 1998 he contacted me and inquired about a job and moving from South Carolina to Florida. I was quite excited to hire him and be able to enter the fast electric boating industry with an icon such as himself heading the projects. We did manage to start a brand called EForce, and we designed and sold some boats and products for a couple short years until Asian manufacturing pretty much ended domestic electric boats.
John was heartbroken and not very happy with me because I made the decision to shut our program down. He continued to work for WHH despite the loss of our original intentions and together we designed some great Gas model boats for several years. John helped me design and made the molds for many of our famous Enforcer boats such as; The Magnum 57, Manta Ray, and Stingray. In 2005 he left Warehouse Hobbies out of frustration with the industry direction, and with me and my decision to concentrate on what I knew best.
John self taught himself Auto Cad, and since we both now lived in the same small town, of course we would inquire about each other on a frequent basis, I was told by all of the gossip guys...
He began to fly model aircraft and again in a few months I heard he had gotten pretty good at it. A couple years later he purchased a Laser cutting machine and began to design some pretty cool foam airplanes, a few of which Asia even copied his designs. Like in many cases time goes by and even the roughest of edges can get re-polished. He started to come by the factory here and there and asked if he could buy some Zap glue from us, and of course I said yes, I too didn't mind his foot back in the door, after all we were more than employee / employer, we were friends. He started to bring these airplanes to the shop and I was amazed at the designs and how great they flew. He had a series of these little electric jets, ( now lipo and brush-less ) flying at high speeds and effortless doing so.
Although John only sold a few of his planes, he always kept a positive attitude, and I always knew that his passion for the hobby was far greater than any of the money he made from selling his kits.
It greatly saddens me that our industry inclusive of myself did not enable the full potential of John Starks capabilities, but now after 30 + years in the hobby industry, in my opinion, in many cases our industry seems to be self-destructive from within, and many a good gifted person and ideals have been suppressed for the sake of ego and profit.
If anything after reading this memorial, I hope that all of us modelers can agree one thing, and that is, all of us have something special to offer, as most creative persons have elevated egos and attitudes, inclusive of even you, that's what drives our passion and abilities. So we have to respect each others opinions and passions when it comes to the same hobby we share and love, because that guy that may of been your best buddy last year, but this year is beating you, and feelings have changed, just may not be at the lake next week, and that's how it ended....
Over the past three years John and I once again became the friends we were when we worked together, because we realized that what drew us together was far greater than Warehouse Hobbies. This past year we even begun a project together developing a fast Micro-Electric Hydro kit. I saw him last less than three weeks ago when he came in all excited to show me the wooden pattern for the molds, and apologize for a delay because he didn't feel well.
John was a heavy smoker and was complaining about his back for a few weeks prior and that the doctor said he had a fracture and needed to lay flat and heal, but here he was model boat in hand, as once again his passion took center stage.
I called him last week on his cell to find that he was in a hospital bed, and that he told me that he was going to a out patient facility soon, and he would be back home in a couple of weeks. I said great get better we have a boat to finish, he said OK. I think we both knew but left it with a simple, see you soon.
There's allot more to having the fastest boat, most expensive airplane, best equipment, biggest trailer, etc. It's ALL about US as a whole that makes this entire facet of the RC hobby industry enjoyable, and guys like John Starks was an important part of it as well, so the next time you squeeze the trigger on your fast electric boat, take a second to think of John, because in some small way, starting many years back, the reason your boat performs the way it does is because of John Starks and his passion that rubbed off onto many he came in contact to.
God Bless John Starks,
His friend,Tony Castronovo

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