Despite that 45 to 50 offshore racing teams are expected to compete in the St. Petersburg Grand Prix this weekend, few have ever done so at the Southwest Florida venue. The last offshore race in St. Pete was an Offshore Super Series event in 2004. That means the six-mile course on Tampa Bay will be new to most of the competitors.
The Super Stock-class Performance Boat Center team heads into this weekend’s St. Petersburg Grand Prix as the model of consistency. Photo from the 2021 Great Lakes Grand Prix by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Among the exceptions is veteran racer Jay Muller, the throttleman for the Super Cat-class WHM Motorsports team.
“It’s a great venue with great viewing from the pier and lots to do with great restaurants and bars—all in one location,” said Muller, who shares the cockpit of the team’s Skater Powerboats catamaran with owner/driver Billy Mauff and will compete against the M CON and Chariots of Fire teams this Sunday. “I actually had a great start in my Motion Supercat there in 2003 and got T-boned by Reliable Carriers as they hooked and rolled, which caused major damage to my boat and took us out of the race.”
Though the Canada-based CJ Grant/Graydel team reportedly planned to compete in the event and bring the Supercat fleet to four boats for the first time this season, that won’t happen.
“We were very excited with the news that a fourth boat, CJ Grant/Graydel, was confirmed for St. Pete,” said Tyler Miler, the owner and throttleman of the M CON team. “Suffice to say Lindsey (Miller’s wife and M CON team manager) got word yesterday they were unfortunately withdrawing from the race. But they confirmed that Clearwater, Fort Myers Beach and Key West are still on their schedule.
First-timers to the St. Petersburg venue include the Supercat-class M CON team.
“That should put the class back to the same WHM, Chariots of Fire and M CON lineup—three very fast boats all with competitive duos in the cockpits that will put on a great showing for the spectators—we had in Michigan City,” he added. “We are excited and looking forward to racing at a site and a course we have yet to tackle since the inception of the M CON team.”
Though seven Super Stock-class teams currently are registered for the St. Pete contest, class representative Ryan Beckley, who will share the cockpit of his 30-foot Skater catamaran with driver Tom Kennedy and has a new backer in A-Game Beverages, said he expects to see 10 teams take the green flag on Sunday. Asked who he see as the Super Stock team to beat in this year’s American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series, Beckley didn’t hesitate to name Performance Boat Center.
“Those guys have been the model of the consistency,” he said. “There are other great teams that have been either first or last, or mid-pack finishers, but you’d have to be pretty crazy not to bet on Performance Boat Center being on the podium.”
Veteran Super Stock-class team owner and competitor Ryan Beckley has a new sponsor.
Myrick Coil, who in a role reversal with teammate Rusty Williams this season is driving the Performance Boat Center 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran while Williams throttles, isn’t sure if he’s ever competed in St. Pete. But he’s been doing his pre-race homework and said he is looking forward to it.
“I was talking to Ricky Maldonado from the Jackhammer team and he says it can be slick or rough depending on tide and wind,” Coil said. “It looks like we’re going to have a west wind, which makes it protected, so I expect conditions to be calm.
“I like the big course,” he continued “I was looking at my drivers packet last night and it says the course is six miles, which makes it good for high speeds. It does have a left-hander in it when we’re headed back to the pier. That can be good and bad. If you’re out front, you can use it as blocker, which is good for you but makes it bad if you’re not out front.”