The Trump Files: The Deadly Powerboat Race Donald Hosted in Atlantic City

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This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on September 14, 2016.

Throughout most of the 1980s, the American Power Boat Association held its world championship races in the calm waters off Key West, Florida. But in 1988, Donald Trump outbid Key West and moved the 1989 edition of the high-speed spectacle up to Atlantic City to help lure more people to his casinos.

Powerboat racers were not happy. Errol Lanier? told South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper that there was “no chance” that the water in Atlantic City would be calm. “People who have to race there next October will find it atrocious,” he said. “Many racers said the APBA should have realized that scheduling a race in New Jersey in mid-October was risky at best,” the Miami Herald later noted.

They were right. The Washington Post reported that the first day of the competition “was a minor disaster as more than half of the superboat fleet, including [Miami Vice star Don] Johnson’s new catamaran, failed to finish.” Then bad weather canceled the races for four straight days, leaving the spectators and racers fuming. “The organization of this championship has been very bad,” Italian racer Eduardo Polli told the Post

None of this seemed to bother Trump, though. His casinos were doing bumper business thanks to the bored and stranded race fans. “I walked through the [Trump] Castle today and it’s Boomtown, U.S.A.,” he crowed to the Post. “The worse the weather, the better for business.”

When racing finally resumed, the event turned deadly when the Team Skater boat got into a horrific accident. “The 32-foot racing boat was headed southwest about 2 1/2 miles from the starting line when its bow launched into the air, hooked the water and rolled, landing upright,” the Associated Press reported. Driver Kevin Brown was killed instantly, while his crewmate, James Dyke, survived with minor injuries. Trump does not appear to have ever commented on Brown’s death.

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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