Ordered through Miami-based TNT Custom Marine, a longtime MTI catamaran and center console dealer, a new MTI 390X raceboat for the 450R Factory Stock class will be on the offshore racecourse sometime next season. The 39-footer was ordered by South Florida’s Willy Cabeza.
Campaigned in 2021 by Taylor Scism and John Tomlinson, the first MTI 390X raceboat will have no less than two MTIs to compete with at some point next season. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The boat is the third new build Cabeza has ordered from the Wentzville, Mo., high-performance powerboat company through TNT Marine Sales. MTI will rig the canopied catamaran with its spec Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines for the class, which debuted this year.
“I met Willy a couple of years ago at a boating event and we kept in touch,” said Steven Fernandez of TNT Marine Sales, which in addition to new models from MTI offers pre-owned boats through its brokerage arm. “He ended up pursuing a new order and he took delivery of a new MTI 390X with 450Rs in January. During the MTI Owners Fun Run in March, he gotten bitten by the MTI-V 42 bug and ordered one. It will be delivered next summer. Now, he wants to go racing so he ordered a 390X for the 450R Factory Stock class.”
Cabeza comes to the sport as a rookie driver and Fernandez will manage the yet-to-be-named team. Super Stock-offshore racing veteran Gary Ballough will throttle the catamaran. Ballough, who also will continue competing in the Super Stock class next year with Canadian rookie driver Cole Leibel, said that he and Cabeza plan to practice in the current FJ Propeller team raceboat while Cabeza’s MTI is being built.
“(MTI principal) Randy Scism, who I got to know as our Abu Dhabi team leader when Johnny Tomlinson and I raced an MTI and won a Class 1 world championship in 2015, called me,” Ballough said, then paused to chuckle. “They wanted to put Willy in a boat with someone who’s been out there a few times, and I guess I fall into that category.
“Putting new people in my boat, which I do a lot of, has allowed me to give something back to the sport,” he continued. “They feel safe with me, and it brings new blood in the sport.”
The boat will be maintained TNT Custom Marine and housed in the South Florida facility, which includes indoor storage and a marina and specializes in rigging and service.
“We are hoping to finish the boat in time to have it compete in a couple of races, with the ultimate goal of having it in Key West next November,” Fernandez said. “Willy wants to go out there and have a good time. Randy Scism told us about the MTI race services he’s doing and that’s exciting. He’s making it really, really easy for us. We think it will be a fun chapter in all of our lives.”
In what amounts to a custom concierge program for 450R Factory Stock race teams running MTI catamarans, the company will do as much or as little as any team owner needs/wants to compete. That can range simply from providing access to the array of parts that the company stocks in its support trailer at various races to supplying a throttleman, a complete crew and more at each event.
“We have two customers so far for that program, each at different ends of the spectrum,” said Taylor Scism, MTI’s client relations manager, who has a new 390X raceboat coming as her cat has been sold to an MTI client. “It can be as ‘white-glove’ or as hands-off as the client prefers.
“Willy will be more on the concierge side,” she added.
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