John W. Carbonell III


Super Boat International legend John W. Carbonell III, 84, passed away Oct. 11, 2020. He was born May 5, 1936, in Key West, Florida to Jane S. and John W. Carbonell Jr.

As a young boy, John worked at the Strand Theater, where he developed a work ethic that followed him through the years.

John graduated Key West High School in 1955. He served in the U.S. Army, returning to Key West to work as a foreman for Southern Enterprises. He then became owner and president of AC Rug. During this time, he was also a little league basketball coach. His mentoring ability paved the way for many individuals to advance their life goals. John always said “If you can work for me, you can work for anyone“.

These skills followed John when he began his offshore powerboat racing career in 1976. John purchased his first boat from Reggie Fountain, The Installer. He joined the ranks of race icons Betty Cook, Rocky Aoki and Don Aronow, just to name a few. Trusted by leaders of the offshore racing community in 1989, he was approached to become a race promoter by Al Copeland and Don Johnson. John’s ingenuity and expertise gave birth to the most professional offshore powerboat racing in the country. He worked with numerous race teams in the U.S. and was the liaison for international teams from Japan, Qatar, Italy, Australia, Canada, Trinidad, Argentina and more. Through these associations, John was privileged to meet the current president, Donald J. Trump.

John was the Iron Fist that kept the teams running. Race producers from all over the world respected his desire to continually enhance powerboat racing. In his vision as president of SBI, John created a new format to the race course that provided an up-close and personal arena keeping spectators on the edge of their seat.

Producing more than 600 national and international races and 38 years of Key West World Championships, as well as his love and great devotion for Key West, John Carbonell’s events nationally and internationally were always prefaced by “To be the best you have to win in Key West.”®

His name and legacy will live on forever, and he will be sadly missed.

He was met in Heaven by his beloved grandson, Mando, and his brothers Norman and Harold.

John is survived by his loving, devoted wife, Deana; his daughters Janet Carbonell and Lori Ryan; his son John W Carbonell IV (Diane); grandchildren Jase and Jade Carbonell; Chandler and Jordan Ryan; Rachel Nadaskay, Grace Shaw, Mark, Noah, Jacob, Stephen and Christian Carbonell; as well as three great-grandchildren; and three sisters, Gloria (Joe) Medina, Brenda (Felix) Otero and Jane Cormack; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and his entire SBI staff family.

Visitation will be held Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, 418 Simonton St.

A Celebration of Life will be held Thursday, Oct. 15, at 3 p.m. at Glad Tidings Church, 1209 United St. Key West, with burial in the Key West City Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the memorial fund benefiting the “John Carbonell Key West Cemetery Beautification Fund.”

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