Poker Run Enthusiast Frank Barbarino Remembered

Many in the performance boat community were saddened when they heard the news that fellow poker run enthusiast Francesco Barbarino died on Tuesday, March 29. The owner of FB Productions in Chatsworth, Calif., Barbarino, who spent his formidable years in Monterey, Calif., before moving to Southern California, had an undeniable passion for going fast on and off the water.

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There’s no denying Frank Barbarino loved the thrill that powerboats provided. Photo courtesy Florida Powerboat Club

The outgoing and friendly owner of a few Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats models, including the well-known 47 GTX Fire & Ice (above), had been out of the poker run scene for several years, but the 57-year-old’s appreciation for go-fast boats never faded, nor did his relationship with several of the friends he made across the country thanks to boating.

Memorial service dates were announced on Friday—the rosary service is scheduled for Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m. at Seaside Funeral Home at Mission Memorial Park in Seaside, Calif., and the funeral service is being held the following day (Friday, April 8) at St. Angelas Catholic Church in Pacific Grove.

In tribute to Barbarino, who had an unforgettable and infectious smile, we asked several boaters who called him a friend to comment about what he meant to them.

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Vinnie Rifice (left) and Frank Barbarino (right) stayed in touch frequently even after Barbarino moved on from the poker run scene.

“I’m shocked and completely saddened, Frank was an amazing guy and a genuine friend,” said New York’s Vinnie Rifice, who first met Barbarino in 2001 at the Sarasota Hyatt Resort during a Poker Runs America event. “I ran a few different Outerlimits with him—he owned a 37, a 42 and a 47. We did a lot of runs together and every one of them was an adventure. Seriously, we would send the truck and trailer wherever we went because we usually broke something.”

Bob Russell, a longtime Outerlimits owner and supporter, also was troubled by the news.

“Frank was such a good person, and he managed to fit in well with everyone,” Russell said. “He came out from California and blended right in. From the minute he started hanging out with us, he was part of the family. What I liked best about Frank is that you could always count on him to go our and run as hard as he could. He’ll be deeply missed.”

Jason Ventura, who worked for the Rhode Island boat builder prior to starting Brand X Hi-Performance Marine in Pompano Beach, Fla., in 2008, said Barbarino was one of the first customers he worked with at Outerlimits and he will never forget him.

“Frank was such a great man with a ton of enthusiasm and excitement,” Ventura said. “He was the type of guy that appreciated everything in life and never took anything for granted. Godspeed my friend.”

New York’s Johnny O’Loughlin, another loyal Outerlimits owner, said he can recall when Barbarino burst onto the scene in his 37-foot Outerlimits.

“Frank to me will always be remembered for that great big smile and those shiny white teeth,” O’Loughlin said. “He was always so genuine, positive and enthusiastic. He loved poker running He wore his heart on his sleeve, which is why I think we always got along so well. He’ll be missed. Hopefully Mike (Fiore, the late Outerlimits founder) was up there to shake his hand upon arrival.”