Just a few hours after this morning’s news that rookie offshore racer Travis Pastrana will not be joining the Miss GEICO crew this weekend for Sunday’s Offshore Powerboat Association Crystal Coast Grand Prix in Morehead City, N.C., longtime offshore racer Brit Lilly found himself behind the wheel of the team’s 47-foot Victory catamaran. Lilly and full-time team throttleman Steve Curtis turned six practice laps in the boat, which is powered by Mercury Racing 1100 Comp engines.
Said Miss GEICO crew chief Gary Stray, “I think it’s the first time since we got the boat back together where everything was absolutely 100 percent.” Photos courtesy/copyright Miss GEICO Offshore Racing.
By all accounts successful, today’s practice session left him exhilarated and ready for more.
Lilly is a multi-time national and world champion in the single-engine V-bottoms ranks, most notably with throttleman Kevin Smith of the LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness/Rev-X Oil team. Though he test-drove the catamaran in June 2019, tomorrow will be the first time Lilly has run Miss GEICO on a live offshore racecourse.
“To feel all of the power and to be surrounded by the knowledge of (Miss GEICO crew chief) Gary Stray, Steve Curtis and the rest of the team was such an honor,” said Lilly. “ This is a lot different from what I normally do. In my boat, the speed is normally in the low 90s. Today in Miss GEICO, we went 153 mph in testing. It’s very different than a V-bottom, so I’m just going to sit back, learn from everyone and try to get the job done.”.
An array of spectator boats and a strong crosswind made for less than “ideal” testing conditions, according to Curtis. But Curtis liked what he saw from his new cockpit-mate.
“Brit handled it very well and got comfortable in the boat,” he said. “Weather-wise tomorrow, I think it’s going to be pretty much the same. We’ve got a dog-leg in the course, so we’ll have side crosswinds for part of it, headwinds on one side and a tailwinds on another. It is a great course for Brit to learn on, so I think by the end of tomorrow he’ll have a good understanding of that boat.”
Lilly (left) and Curtis put in six practice laps today in advance of tomorrow’s Crystal Coast Grand Prix.
For Stray, who has guided extensive repairs and upgrades to the 47-footer for more than a year since the boat rolled near the end of a race in Sarasota, Fla., in June 2019, the primary focus was on the cat itself. And he could not have been more pleased.
“The test was absolutely perfect —you couldn’t want any better,” he said “I think it’s the first time since we got the boat back together where everything was absolutely 100 percent.
“We tried quite a different setup than we have before and I think we learned a lot from that today,” he added. “It was very positive for testing, and being out there without any competition.”
Uncontested in the Class ONE ranks, the Miss GEICO team reportedly will run 14 laps tomorrow, though which race the boat will join has not been announced. From noon to 5 p.m., there will be three to four races during the North Carolina event.