Celebrating its 37th anniversary this year, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix presented by Visit Sarasota County is the oldest continuous regular-season contest in offshore racing. The July 3, event also is the third of eight races in the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series and the second contest of the Union International Motonautique Class 1 World Championship Series. United Kingdom-based Powerboat P1/P1 Offshore is producing both events, as previously reported on the speedonthewater.com.
At least 10 Super Stock teams are expected to take the green flag next month in the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, the third of eight races in the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series. Photo from the 2021 Sarasota Grand Prix by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The biggest internal change for the Southwest Florida happening? It’s no longer affiliated with Suncoast Summerfest or Suncoast Charities for Children, which for decades was its primary benefactor. New for offshore racing fans, Class 1 teams will vie for pole position on Saturday, July 2, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the four-plus-mile course off Lido Beach.
Class 1 pole-position qualifying, as well as Sunday’s races, will be broadcast on the P1 Offshore Facebook page. The Sunday action starts at 8:30 a.m. with Aqua X personal watercraft races, with full-size offshore powerboat races scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., followed by races scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Race No. 1 will feature the Bracket 500, 600 and 700 classes. The second race of the day will boast the Stock and Mod V classes, as well as Bracket 300 and 400. Class 1 will run on its own in race No. 3, as will the Super Stock class in the fourth race of the day. The final race of the afternoon will feature Super Cat and 450R Factory Stock.
Here’s what fans can expect from each of the spec classes.
UIM Class 1
Steve Curtis (left) and Travis Pastrana will share a Class 1 cockpit for the first time this season in Sarasota next month. Photo by Cole McGowan copyright Powerboat P1.
The second event in the 10-race UIM Class 1 series, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix should see a five-team contest. With a win at the Cocoa Beach, Fla., series-opener, Huski Chocolate is the team to beat and 222 Offshore Australia, which led for much of the Cocoa Beach event before breaking down, will have something to prove. Huski Chocolate throttleman Steve Curtis will be joined in the cockpit by motorsports great Travis Pastrana, who replaces Brit Lilly as the team’s driver—likely for the rest of the season.
Graydel took the season-opener in Cocoa Beach, while M CON claimed victory at the Lake Race. Photos by Pete Boden and Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Photos.
According to Super Cat-class representative Tyler Miller of the M CON team, nine teams have committed to the Sarasota race. With a win for Graydel in Cocoa Beach and M CON claiming victory at the Lake Race, the Sarasota contest should be intriguing, especially if a third Super Cat team emerges as the winner. But the bigger deal for the class is actually being able to race this year in Sarasota, as delays in 2021 forced the organizers to cancel the final race of the day, which included Super Cat and Class 1. Powerboat P1 was heavily criticized for last year’s cancelation, as the organization was for the long delays in the 2021 Thunder On Cocoa Beach happening, which it also produced. Powerboat P1 head Azam Rangoonwala promised dramatic improvement, and if the seamless 2022 Cocoa Beach event is anything to go by Rangoonwala and the P1 Offshore race-production team are good to his word.
What do the Jackhammer and Steele Industries have in common? A Maldonado has throttled each Super Stock-class raceboat to victory this season.
Expect Super Stock to have the largest fleet of any class at every APBA series this season and you won’t be disappointed. According to class representative Ryan Beckley, 10-plus teams will be in the mix if current plans hold. “A few are still thrashing to get here after Lake Race repairs,” said Beckley, who calls Sarasota home. At the Cocoa Beach season-opener, the Jackhammer team of Reese Langheim and Ricky Maldonado took the checkered flag. At the Lake Race, the Steele Industries team of Dominic Steele and Julian Maldonado—Ricky Maldonado’s youngest son—ran a fast race in its Skater to earn the Super Stock-class victory. Though both teams delivered strong performances, the Super Stock class in Sarasota is wide open and could see a third team take the checkered flag in as many races.
450R Factory Stock
An official class this season, 450R Factory Stock will have at least two teams in Sarasota.
The good news for the 450R Factory Stock class is two-fold. First, Taylor Scism and John Tomlinson of TS Motorsports now have competition from Randy Keys and Bill Allen in Klovar Motorsports. Second, 450R Factory Stock is that became an official APBA class. The not-so-great news? The TS Motorsports, which prevailed over Klovar Motorsports in Cocoa Beach and the Lake Race isn’t competing in Sarasota this year. So unless competition emerges Klovar Motorsports will be running solo.
Stock V And Mod V
With four different winners in four different races, the Sarasota Power Grand Prix is anyone’s race in the Stock and Mod V ranks. Photos by Pete Boden and Jeff Helmkamp.
Representative Kevin Smith expects five to six teams to compete in each category based on discussions with his fellow Stock and Mod V competitors. Both classes are wide open for new winners. Though Smith and Brit Lilly prevailed in Cocoa Beach in their LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness Stock V raceboat, the team wasn’t able to make it to the Lake Race. That Stock V-class victory went to Offshore Powerboat Association president Ed “Smitty” Smith and his son, Anthony Smith in Wazzup. On the Mod V side, the veteran Sun Print cockpit duo of Steve Miklos and Steve Fehrmann claimed the checkered flag and Brian Forehand and Vinnie Diorio in Marker 17 Marine notched a victory at the Lake Race.
Covering the APBA series for speedonthewater.com this season, veteran marine writer Eric Colby will be in Sarasota for the event. So, too, will chief photographer Pete Boden, who lives in the area. Speedonthewater.com will provides updates on the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix as they become available in advance of the July 3 event.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story had TS Motorsports coming to the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix. The team will not be competing in the event. The text has been changed for accuracy.