For the famed offshore racer, throttling the Miss GEICO raceboat to wrap up the 2017 offshore powerboat-racing season has been a reunion of sorts. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
In the past two weekends, Britain-born throttleman Steve Curtis has claimed two world titles—Super Boat International and Offshore Powerboat Association—with driver James Sheppard in the newest Miss GEICO raceboat, a 47-foot Victory-built catamaran he happens to own. Curtis leased the boat, as well as his throttling expertise, to the Miss GEICO crew to finish out the season after the team’s 44-foot Victory cat was significantly damaged in a tragic accident during this summer’s OPA St. Clair River Classic race in Michigan. The accident claimed the life of offshore racer Keith Holmes, and longtime Miss GEICO throttleman Scott Begovich and driver Marc Granet stepped out of the cockpit for the rest of the season.
In a way, working with the Miss GEICO group has been a homecoming for Curtis. He counts the five owners of the team as good friends. In particular, he’s known Gary Stray, the team’s crew chief, since their days working together in the mid 1990s and early 2000s on the now-dormant Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 offshore racing circuit.
“I worked with Gary for years,” said Curtis. “From that standpoint, it was great because we speak the same language on setup and so on. And it was nice for me not having to organize a team and just concentrate on racing.”