By People Staff
Updated October 10, 1988 12:00 PM

Macho fantasy and macho reality met at sea in Atlantic City Sept. 24, when Miami Vice’s Don Johnson finished third in the Superboat class at the Trump Castle Grand National Powerboat Championship. Johnson, who has been known to get himself picturesquely windblown as TV’s speed boating are Sonny Crockett, gunned his 2,550-hp Gentry Eagle to speeds of more than 100 mph in the race that sponsor Donald Trump called the War Offshore.

Some disgruntled celebrity-watchers suggested that the event should have been called On the Rocks at the Docks, since Johnson’s real-life romantic lead, Barbra Streisand, was a conspicuous no-show. “She was supposed to be here,” said Johnson’s friend Trump, who seems to be everywhere these days, “but I think Don wanted to focus on the race.”

Maybe Babs just couldn’t bear to watch her man engage in an occasionally fatal sport—though the suspicious were inclined to believe the quarrelsome couple had split again. Johnson, in any event, was apparently alone with his thoughts as he spent the night before the race aboard the Trump Princess (Trump’s $29 million, 282-foot bathtub toy), occupying two suites—one for him and one for his luggage.

Johnson’s 157-mile race was won easily by newcomer Charles Marks, but the Don’s performance enhanced the reputation he has earned as a serious competitor since launching his racing career in 1987. “He’s considered almost a professional driver,” says his navigator, Gus Anastasi, 50. The 1987 National Offshore Open Class champion, Bob Kaiser, 32, agrees. “You really don’t need any special talent,” he says, “just have a big checkbook and be ready to lay your life on the line.”

Johnson evidently has what it takes. “With anything like this that contains speed and daring, it’s how willing you are to get out and lay it on the line,” he said as he headed out for the race. “And, buddy, I’m willing.”