Today’s episode is with the 2021 Vintage Class Jet Ski World Champion, ‘Dangerous’ Dan Fitzgerald! Coming up through the ranks from the early 90’s, he is still riding, racing and winning! Join us as we go down memory lane and relive his early races, the fierce battles he was in, tech innovations like EFI systems, balancing a career being an accountant with wrenching, starting a business and what competing in the 2021 World Finals was like. Dan has a wealth of knowledge about Jet Ski racing, you’re in for a treat with this one!
Dan’s career has spanned for over 30 years and has seen him regularly earning top 5 positions against the big names of the sport in the ProMod class during the early 90s before he went on to even bigger heights.
- We cover an incredible play by play race recap of when Dan took out the last race of the 1995 national tour in Dallas in the 1200 runabout class
- We ‘Nerd out’ on the differences between MRD mechanical fuel injection and the Triton EFI system, Dan has run them both
- How he managed a full time accounting career whilst balancing his ambitions to become a pro jetskier as a privateer with only minimal sponsorship support
- And how his grit and determination paid dividends when Factory Yamaha, Team RIVA, came knocking on his door with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse
- We finish with some in depth advice from Dan on how to modify your 550 for the best performance possible plus so many more interesting insights along the way.
Dan found a way to build his passion into a business with the launch of Jet World Power Sports. If you’d like to find out more about what products Dan has to offer then head to his website at JetWorldPowerSports.com
- 00:13 Intro
- 01:47 Hello and welcome! How did you get started in Jet Ski racing?
- 03:50 How and when did you get into wrenching?
- 07:30 Your dad’s role in your wrenching and your first race
- 11:20 Regional races with worn out motors
- 13:00 How did you become friends with Jeff Jacobs with the age difference?
- 16:55 Senators Wash
- 18:25 Australian Pursuit and the value of riding with better riders
- 21:30 Funny story about Jeff Jacobs
- 23:40 What racing memories do you have with Jeff?
- 26:00 The 750’s equalized the racing
- 27:30 My gear wasn’t as fast but it was very reliable
- 28:35 The beginnings of business
- 29:45 Finding performance in reliability meant focusing more on the bottom end
- 31:55 Did you ever train with Jeff? Did you ever get to ride his race skis?
- 33:50 You had a big list of sponsors in your pro years then none in your expert years
- 37:30 A story about L&S
- 40:50 It was inspiring to see you out there financing yourself
- 43:50 1991 tour you ended 5th place, what was that like?
- 45:50 White Brothers and Good Time Racing
- 47:50 Riding 650’s
- 50:00 I switched to a 750 with MRD fuel injection for the World Finals and getting injured
- 51:50 What is your professional opinion of MRD fuel injection?
- 54:15 I had a 750 with a Triton EFI as well
- 56:10 How engine tuning worked
- 01:01:40 How did you measure performance?
- 01:05:40 Did you ever see Victor Sheldon or Jeff Jacobs EFI?
- 01:08:25 Standups to Runabouts and a very tough 1993
- 01:14:02 This is what dreams and legends are made of
- 01:22:05 I made over $100 000 just racing jet skis!
- 01:23:48 What was it like having a professional career while racing?
- 01:30:15 Starting your own business
- 01:33:35 The hulls flexed so much that it wrecked the drive coupler
- 01:35:35 Last round of the national tour
- 01:44:00 Big battles in the World Finals
- 01:49:30 You haven’t stopped racing but now you had a business: Jet World Powersports
- 01:52:40 Mike Cohen from PJS came to work with me
- 01:53:05 We do Sea Doo Watercraft, CanAm Spyder, Beta and Husqvarna Motorcycles, Polaris, Yamaha and Kawasaki, Torrot Electric Motorcycles and Electric Motion
- 01:55:20 You are the current World Vintage Class Champion taking it away from Wyland Redon, what’s it like racing today vs the old days?
- 01:57:50 Walk us through your setup: Rhaas 750 Conversion kit and choosing a nozzle
- 01:59:50 Intake grate: set up to go fast in rough water
- 02:03:21 Engine bay: RND, Mariner and Kaufman pipes
- 02:06:58 Running 220 Psi compression using a PJS head
- 02:07:37 3 Channel MSD ignition and a stock FX1 Waterbox
- 02:08:18 Air flow: pair of 48mm Carburetors
- 02:08:45 What was the World Finals like? Moto 1 and the log jump
- 02:12:30 Moto 2
- 02:15:30 Physical condition and weight is important
- 02:17:20 The final results of the 2021 World Finals
- 02:18:18 I wish we had more people doing this
- 02:21:00 Your best handling tip: Make your ski parabolic, add front and rear sponsons
- 02:22:35 Engine setup: have enough cooling, add compression and do some porting and an aftermarket ride plate. You can also use a Reed motor. Maintain your parts!
- 02:26:00 Favorite memory on a jet ski: Helping surfers stuck in massive surf in Ventura
- 02:30:45 Thank you so much for your time!
- 02:31:38 Outro
Great interview! I had the honor of being paired up with Dan when he joined the RIVA team. He was a bit of an unknown to me, but I quickly learned his work ethic and drive were second to none. And he never gave up. EVER! I’ve been fortunate to wrench for lot of top pro’s during my career at RIVA, but none of them compare to Fitz. He worked for everything and earned everything. A true winner, on and off the track.
Such a great interview. Keep up the good work. And like Dan says “You gotta hold it wide open”.
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Worked with Dan in accounting in LA. Rode Jet Skis in the surf in Ventura and dirt bikes in the desert with him & Mike Jacobs in the early 90s.
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