Born and raised in Fresno, John J. Kovacevich was one of the few locals to make a name in the sport of speed boats and hydroplane racing. The Fresno High School graduate was the state leader for nearly ten years in Class 'F racing runabout and Class 'F' hydroplane races. Kovacevich won his first National Championship in Oakland in 1939 and, a year later, roared to a world record in Stockton. He established a world record in the FRR at Lakeport in 1939. In 1940, he won the Fort Worth, Texas National Championships and also set a world record on the prestigious Salton Sea and another in Rochester, Massachusetts. He was named winner of the Sea Magazine high points trophy and the first recipient of the Ernie Millot Sportsmanshipaward for Pacific Coast Outboard Drivers in 1940. Kovacevich won the National FRR championship at Salton Sea in 1942 and then retired from boat racing.