In one coincidentally ideal way, Grant’s Signature Racing in Bradenton, Fla., was set up to function during the COVID-19 pandemic before it happened. That’s because most of company principal Grant’s Bruggemann’s customer never see the inside of his building—and now such rare visits are, per Center for Disease Control novel coronavirus guidelines, completely forbidden anyway. And it will stay that way until restrictions are lifted.
This 50-foot Skater catamaran is one of several projects in the works at Grant’s Signature Racing (click image to enlarge).
“We never really had much direct contact with the retail public anyway,” said Bruggemann. “Most of our clients are based in the Midwest and Northeast, and they send us our boats to get ready for the summer. We communicate by phone, text and email. They rarely come here to the shop, and now they can’t.
“ Work hasn’t slowed down for us, but it’s not quite business as usual,” he continued. “We’re following all social distancing, meaning the few guys we have in the shop need stay away from each other during the day. We’re being really careful. My wife, Kelli, and I go from home to work and back every day—that’s about it. Maybe we go for a little street ride on our mountain bikes, as all the mountain bike parks are closed. Everyone here is healthy and happy to be working, but we’re all being really, really careful.”
Current projects in the shop range from large to small. Bruggemann and his small crew are re-rigging and repairing fiberglass for a 50-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran called Fifty Shades for owner Joe Gilstorf. The boat’s interior currently is being redone by Craig Ellis of Appearance Products in Grand Rapids, Mich. They are also refreshing the Mercury Racing 1350 engines for Tom Cat, a 46-foot Skater owned by Todd Fountain and currently at the Skater facility in Douglas, Mich., for paint and finish work.
Check out the slideshow above to enjoy more projects underway at Grant’s Signature Racing.
On the smaller side, Grant’s Signature Racing is repowering a 36-foot Doug Wright catamaran with Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines—the boat originally was equipped with their 400R siblings. Bruggemann said he also is waiting two more 32-foot Doug Wright catamarans—one at the Doug Wright facility and one being painted by Doug Harrell—to arrive for outboard installation and rigging.
“Converting from 400s to 450s on the 36-foot Doug Wright isn’t tricky by any means—we’re professionals so that’s what we do—but ‘plug and play’ is only somewhat true in that you still have to do with six feet of harness and find a place for it. You have to go above and beyond to make sure it looks clean.”
Beyond ongoing, minor fiberglass repair work on the Pro Floors Racing MTI catamaran, Bruggemann is in semi-pause-mode in preparation for the offshore racing season as the season itself has been paused/rescheduled in response to COVID-19. Bruggemann said he speaks with New Zealand-based team owner/driver every other week, and New Zealand is locked down.
Though the pre-season prep work for the Pro Floors Racing MTI raceboat isn’t as busy as it would usually be this time of year, Bruggemann said the boat will be ready to go when the season begins. Photo from the 2019 Race World Offshore Key West Championships by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“We have all the parts and all the resources we need to keep working, we’re just being super careful to make sure that we stay away from each other and stay healthy,”
“Mercury Racing is still shipping us parts, and we’re still shipping parts,” he said. “Offshore Outdrives, the drive shop Brian Jackson brought in house here, is staying really busy, too. He’s been catching up on his backlog of drive work.”
Ongoing COVID-19 Related Coverage