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Great Lakes Grand Prix Essentials, II: The Art Of Double Duty

Drivers and throttlemen moving from one boat to another between contests is far from uncommon in offshore racing, but seat-hopping will be in full effect during this weekend’s Great Lakes Grand Prix—the fifth race in the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series—in Michigan City, Ind. At least two competitors will jump from Super Stock- to Supercat-class boats between those two contests, and one racer—Brit Lilly—will run in three different classes this Sunday.

By the time Brit Lilly climbs into the driver’s seat of Miss GEICO this Sunday in Michigan City, he already will have run two races. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

And while pulling double duty looks like a diehard offshore racer’s dream, it’s a lot more challenging than it appears from the outside looking in.

“One of the downfalls is you have a short window for testing on Saturdays and you can’t get both boats tested as much as you like,” said Myrick Coil, who will drive the Performance Boat Center 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran in the Super Stock class with throttleman Rusty Williams and the 38-foot M CON Supercat-class Skater with team owner/throttleman Tyler Miller. “Another downfall is that when it’s really hot it makes for a long day.

“On the positive side, you have a chance to redeem yourself if you do badly in one of the races,” he added, then laughed. “Another advantage is you can talk to your crew for the other boat while you are out there racing the first boat, and it will help them with set up for the next race. And when I get out of a 4,400-pound boat and climb into a 9,500-pound, boat I feel like I could drive that big boat through anything.”

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These raceboats and others will have competitors pulling double duty in Sunday’s races LPC photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.

Vinnie Diorio, who will be driving the 32-foot Doug Wright LPC Super Stock cat with team owner/throttleman Loren Peters and throttling his 39-foot SV Racing Supercat-class Outerlimits raceboat with co-owner/driver Simon Prevost, agreed.

“It’s like driving an electric go-kart compared to a Ford F-250,” he said. “The go-kart’s sensitivity to every movement is huge. The Supercat is a lot more forgiving.”

As most offshore racing fans know, SV Racing team’s Mercury Racing 860 engines have landed it in the Class 1 ranks this season. That means Diorio and Prevost will be competing against the Miss GEICO team of throttleman Steve Curtis and driver Brit Lilly—running a 47-foot Victory catamaran from Dubai—in Michigan City. But before that race, Lilly will drive his own 29-foot Extreme LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness raceboat in the Stock V class and his former 29-footer in the Mod V class. Kevin Smith, his longtime teammate, will throttle both boats.

Lilly is unphased by the considerable jump between hull types and sizes.

“Well they do take two completely different driving styles, but going from one to another has never bothered me,” said Lilly. “But you know me, I just love racing so much and couldn’t be more pumped about it.”

Said Diorio: “It’s like driving an electric go-kart compared to a Ford F-250.”

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