Originally scheduled to begin two weekends ago in Cocoa Beach, Fla., the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series will—if the current plans hold—kick off May 28-30 month at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri. As previously reported on speedothewater.com, the organizers of the Lake Race will announced the fate of their event on May 4.
Even in the face of an uncertain schedule, Supercat teams are beginning to prepare for the season. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
A month before the novel coronavirus crisis changed everyone’s plans, the Supercat-class teams owners’ group committed to the Lake Race. Scrubbing the Cocoa Beach event, though disappointing for all involved, gave teams more time to prepare for the revised APBA series schedule and its new season-opener.
Florida-based AMH Motorsports team owner and driver Aaron Hope said that he and throttleman Anthony Smith, the son of Offshore Powerboat Association president Ed “Smitty” Smith, are “getting close” to beginning test sessions. Likewise, the WHM Motorsports team of owner/driver Billy Mauff and Jay Muller are getting ready to test.
“We haven’t done any testing so far, but I think we’ll be ready to start in two weeks,” said Muller, who has been keeping sharp by riding motocross.
M-Con team owner and throttleman Tyler Miller is waiting for a third set of Mercury Racing propellers, which he said are scheduled to arrive on May 6, before he resumes testing on his home waters of the Lake of Ozarks. He has yet to name a new driver for his Skater Powerboats 438 raceboat.
“I still want to wait until I know the boat will be complete prior to announcing a driver,” he said. “But the decision may come soon if Lake Race stays on schedule as published.”
Yesterday, SV Racing team throttleman Vinnie Diorio and crew chief Gary Swanson tested their 39-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats catamaran powered by Factory Billet engines on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wis.
“We only ran it around for like 15 minutes and never went over 5,000 rpm,” he said “We can’t wait to start running it hard and testing it. We may go again later this week.”
If that happens, Diorio will once again be without driver Simon Prevost, who lives in Canada and cannot enter the United States under COVID-19 mandates. The same goes for Canadian Chris Grant, the owner of the Supercat-class CJ Graydel raceboat he runs with veteran throttleman Billy Moore. Diorio said he believes the U.S.-Canada border will be open in time for the Lake Race. If not, he has an alternate for Prevost in mind, though he declined to elaborate on who that might be.
The challenge of having a driver outside the U.S. is particularly daunting for Pro Floors Racing, the team that claimed the Supercat championship during the inaugural APBA Series in 2019. Team owner and driver Wayne Valder lives in New Zealand, which instituted a complete nationwide lockdown that included closing its borders. Though the country is beginning to ease its internal restrictions, the New Zealand government has not announced when its borders will reopen for international travel.
Supercat-class APBA series in 2019, Pro Floor Racing’s Wayne Valder and Grant Bruggemann are facing a long-distance challenge.
Unlike the SV Racing, Pro Floors Racing does not have a contingency plan for replacing Valder in the cockpit if he cannot make it stateside for the Lake Race.
“Pro Floors Racing has worked hard to achieve this high level of racing as a team,” said Valder. “I would like to continue as that.”
Said Pro Floors Racing throttleman/team manager Grant Bruggemann, “As of right now, Wayne still has all intentions of racing this season. But just as everyone else is, he’s watching the situation very closely.”