This weekend’s Crystal Coast Grand Prix in Morehead City, N.C., isn’t just the first race of 2020 offshore powerboat racing season. The Offshore Powerboat Association-produced event will present the first opportunity for Miss GEICO team throttleman and rookie alternating driver Travis Pastrana to run the team’s 47-foot Victory catamaran in race conditions. Though the Miss GEICO outfit will face no other Class ONE teams on Sunday, Curtis and Pastrana will have to deal with at least one start, course traffic and more.
Lack of Class ONE competition will not prevent the Miss GEICO team from getting everything it can out of the Crystal Coast Grand Prix this weekend in advance of the 2021 season. Photo from the 2019 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Among the world’s best-known and most-accomplished extreme sports athletes, Pastrana drove the 47-footer powered by Mercury Racing 1100 Comp engines for the first time with Curtis in Maryland during lumpy conditions last month.
“Steve and I didn’t get a chance to really open her up to full speed,” he said. “I’m thrilled to finally get a chance to race and look forward to using Morehead City as an amazing learning experience.”
The team will treat the North Carolina event, as well as early October’s Offshore At The Ozarks-Cat Edition in Central Missouri—where it will again run uncontested—as a practice and tune-up weekend in advance of the 2021 season. (For the Lake of the Ozarks event, veteran offshore racer Brit Lilly will take the driver’s seat.) In addition to two new drivers, the Miss GEICO team has an extensively reconstructed boat—successfully tested three times to date including a test session yesterday—on its hands.
“We’ll be using this race, and the races to follow as further testing ahead of next season when Class ONE is fully functional,” said Gary Stray, Miss GEICO’s longtime crew chief. “This weekend will be the first time Travis has driven the boat in race trim, so it will help him get a better feeling of the boat. We have new data acquisition technology onboard, so we’ll have the chance to test those systems, as well.”
Curtis (left) and Pastrana plan to get as much seat-time as possible this weekend. Said Pastrana, “I’m thrilled to finally get a chance to race, and look forward to using Morehead City as an amazing learning experience.” Photo by Gary Stray copyright Miss GEICO Offshore Racing.
For multi-time offshore racing world champion Curtis, this weekend’s practice session and race is about syncing with Pastrana—a quick study thanks to decades of high-flying motorsports experience—in the cockpit and helping him learn. They’ll be focusing on consistency through the flat-water course and will spend as much running-time in the cockpit as possible.
“This will be useful for Travis and myself to build up communications, as well as give him the experience of driving around a race course,” said Curtis. “We put on a different rudder, which is better for flat water—that’s one of the things we tested yesterday. The course in Morehead City is in the protected Intracoastal Waterway, so there won’t be any big seas to contend with, as we had in Ocean City.”