The Watercraft Journal: Tell everyone a little about yourself and I’m sure we are all wondering what JB stands for.
JB Gasperone: JB stands for Bond, James Bond. [Laughs] Anyhow, my name is JB Gasperone, I am a 40 year old father of two boys that decided to take up jet ski racing at the age of 37. My Birthday is in September so I get older just before World Finals every year, raced my first World Finals at the age of 38 in the Novice Ski Limited class (finished 3rd that year) and have been hooked ever since.
WCJ: How long have you been racing jet skis for and what got you into racing?
JBG: I have raced jet skis for 3 summers now, the first summer I only did the minimum amount of races to qualify for Finals. The first race I did was an RPM/Jettribe event at Windsor Beach in Lake Havasu, what an eye opener! It was a line of 13 people in Novice Ski Stock and I got a terrible start, worked my way up to like 6th, swimming and crashing every other lap, completely exhausted, had no idea how rough it could get and I was hooked! I met people on the line that day that are still my close friends. The racing environment of camaraderie and friendship in jet ski racing was very inviting, I came from a Motocross background and in the early 2000’s MX racing was not friendly. I enjoy close racing, but quit racing MX due to the frequency of injuries, these old bones welcomed the water crashes. The speed and close competition offered by jet ski racing was a perfect fit for me. Not much compares to sweeping the first turn wide open, 24-inches away from a guy, at nearly 60mph, without brakes.
WCJ: What jet skis do you currently own? Which is your favorite?
JBG: Currently, I have two Bullett Open or GP skis. The primary race ski for this season is the new Bullett V3 with an Ultimate Watercraft Performance built Kawasaki 1100cc engine. The secondary race/practice ski is a Bullett V2.5 with a mild Ultimate Watercraft Performance built Kawasaki 1100cc engine. Clearly, I am a Bullett fan. That being said, my favorite ski to ride thus far would have to be the V2.5, I know I will love the V3 more on race day at Crazy Horse when its windy, but I really enjoy riding the V2.5. The V3 is like a cheater version of the V2.5. I am really excited for the Mod Lites or Mod limited class offered by IJSBA this year, the idea of a light weight hull and the easy to control 800cc engine sounds like a blast to me!
WCJ: What do you do to get yourself ready for race season?
JBG: Well, I’m old so the training never stops for me, I will quote the great Mark Conroy here and say, “move it, or lose it!” Seriously though, for training I try to do a mix of balance, agility, strength and endurance. When possible, I try to mix endurance with all of the above. I’m not a fan of the gym or weight room, I like to do stuff outside and also nobody wants to listen to someone breathe that hard working out. Clearly, the most important aspect of jet ski race training would be time on the ski, but for some that is very difficult. With that being said, I think it is paramount to use the time you do have on your ski effectively, meaning train with others, or at least make sure to train when it’s rough. Cutting laps by yourself on glass definitely has it’s place in the training routine, but time spent chasing a buddy will give you more bang for your buck.
WCJ: In your short time racing you have made quite a buzz in the race scene, tell us about your accomplishments in the past few years.
JBG: The jet ski racing community is very welcoming and inviting towards all new comers. I think maybe I was just in the right place at the right time, but before racing my first RPM/Jettribe event, I was at body riding and a random guy pulls up on a sweet bright yellow and pink 550, wearing wrestling shoes and a knee brace, and starts making small talk about his new sponson idea, calling them “fish sticks” then asks me if I want to take it for a spin! Who am I to turn that down? So I ride it, its cool, I suck at 550’s, I thank him, he loads up and leaves.
Another guy pulls in the vacant spot next to me with a blue SXR #202. I’m scratching my head over what turned out to be a lean bog from aftermarket flame arrestors, but I didn’t know that. 202 guy asks me what’s going on, I tell him I don’t know. he takes a peak, turns some screw and BAM! good to go. Introduces himself, Lance Cramer, and says “do you know who’s 550 you just rode? Chris Fischetti’s….” Long story short, I meet 2 of the greats in 1 afternoon at body, and neither of them treated me like the newb that I was. That speaks of the “buzz”, I didn’t create it, it’s the jet ski racing community straight up.
So far I’ve managed a few pretty cool accomplishments in racing. I’ve made the podium2 out of 3 times at the World Finals, never on the top step though. I’ve won the Jettribe Best of the West series and the Hot Products Cup. I decided to race the Hahn in 2017 with Adam Levings and Matt Legerski in the Sportsman 2stroke class. What felt like a huge mistake at the time, turned out to be very memorable (scars included). Despite fierce competition in that class against Jackson Rod/Duane Bascom and Guy Vinatieri, we managed to win!
2017 Summer was a fun season, even though I didn’t complete any race series, I had a ton of fun racing Amateur Ski GP in some Jet Jam Racing events and Jettribe Racing events. I found a bit more success in the Jet Jam events than I did at the Jettribe races but was a good time all in all. 2017 World Finals was the most memorable so far, racing Vet Ski GP and Am Ski GP, finishing 3rd in Vet and 4th in Am. Made some mistakes in both races but passed a bunch of guys in Vet (because I had to take the make-up buoy twice).
WCJ: Those were some really good years for you, what do you have planned for 2018?
JBG: I’m pumped for 2018! The race season this summer is super exciting because there is a new class with the IJSBA that I think will be really fun and in the Jet Jam series, I will be able to race pro riders like Brock Austin, Ian Roberts, Pete Zernik and Kole Cramer every weekend, then race Am Ski GP at finals! The new IJSBA class I’m looking forward to is the Mod Lites class. In this class I hope to race a Bullett V3 with a Tim Judge twin in it. I think there will be a good amount of people racing this class in Region 1 at the Jettribe Best of the West events. To be honest, I really just hope that between GP1 and GP2 at Jet Jam and Mod Lites at Jettribe Best of the West, there will be some lines with 18 skis on them.
WCJ: Good luck in 2018 and would you like to take this time to publicly thank anyone?
JBG: Pardon me while I write a novel: There are two things I want to say first about jet ski racing. Thing one: you cannot be successful in jet ski racing without the help of others. Thing 2: everyone in jet ski racing is willing to help you! If you are nervous about starting to race or are having trouble with your current ski set up at the races, just ask somebody! I want to say thank you to my Mom, Terri Gasperone, thank you! Without you I am nothing. I love you.
My OG jet ski Homey, Adam Levings, thank you! Without you I would still be out of shape, never get a good start, not have anyone to scare towing a trailer while texting and driving, not know about Farmer Boys, not have gotten to see Yonan get punked out of $10, and I would have a self confidence issue. Lets not forget about Andie, without Andie we would starve, straight up.
The legendary father/son duo of Danny and Rusty Gewecke of Bullett Racing, thank you! I still know nothing about jet ski handling, but thankfully you guys have taken the time to help me figure it out. The hours spent in the shop with Danny taught me proper body positioning and throttle control (the single most important factors of riding an Open class race ski). Bullett racing makes the winningest aftermarket hulls available, I’m lucky to have one.
Another Legendary Father/Son duo, Brian and Rich Boell of Ultimate Watercraft Performance, thank you! You guys have showed me the critical attention to detail that is required to build a race ski that will actually finish a moto or two. I appreciate the endless hours in the shop helping to build or fix the motors and skis that tolerate my excessive abuse.
Ultimate Watercraft Power turns my poor reaction time into countless holeshots. Also, thank you Rich for the tie tying lessons. Thank you Trisha and Mat Juarez, you guys gave me Coconut, and without Coco I may have never known about the glorious V-bottom hull design of Bullett Racing. And to thank my first sponsor ever! Thank you Frank and Kara Walsh and Kelly Hart of Jettrim! Thank you to Canyon Coolers! I would nearly spend the race budget on ice every weekend without you!
None of my racing would be possible without the generous contributions of my sponsors: Bullett Racing, Ultimate Watercraft Performance, Canyon Coolers, Jettrim, IPD Graphics, Team 10 Racing, 10 Flextape, DNA Powersports, X Brand Goggles, Blowsion USA, Bell Powersports, JetPilot USA, AZ Jetskis, JC Racing
All images provided by JB Gasperone, including submissions by Ken Gallagher Photography and Waters Edge Photography