Though Super Stock-class team owner and driver Daren Kittredge lives in New England, Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Florida really are his home-waters. Between races, he tests on those waterways with throttleman Grant Bruggemann of Grant’s Signature Racing located in nearby Bradenton. They launch Northwing Offshore Racing, a 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran that formerly ran as The Hulk, from the 10th Street boat ramp, the same ramp they will use to launch their Mercury Racing 300R outboard engine-powered raceboat next weekend in the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix.
With plenty of practice and testing since Thunder On Cocoa Beach in May, the Super Stock-class Northwing Offshore Racing team of Daren Kittredge and Grant Bruggemann is ready for next weekend’s Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix. Photos courtesy Kellie Bruggemann/Grant’s Signature Racing.
“That’s where we test,” Kittredge said. “It’s just a few minutes from Grant’s shop.”
Though Kittredge is a longtime Bruggemann friend and a loyal client of his famed rigging and restoration shop, the Super Stock-class cockpit pairing is new. But Kittredge ran six seasons with Gary Ballough in FJ Propeller—they won a world championship in 2016—so he has plenty of experience sharing the cockpit with a world-class throttleman. They began tuning up for this season last year at the Race World Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla.
As did all Super Stock competitors, Kittredge and Bruggemann began this season with disappointment as their season-opener in Marathon, Fla., was canceled thanks to rapidly deteriorating weather and depleted safety assets. But they took fourth place at the next American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series contest in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Despite finishing off the podium they were pleased with their performance—except when the green flag flew.
“We made a mistake on the start and ended up dead last,” Kittredge said. “Though we ended up finishing fourth, we worked our way up to third and had a really good battle with CMR and Performance Boat Center. If we had nailed the start I think we would have ended up in second. All we have to do is execute. We know we can win if we get a good, clean start.
“We know the boat is really, really good and we are making gains and getting better and better in practice,” he continued. “You learn every time you go out there, and Grant and I have great chemistry. He’s an exceptional throttleman and I am super lucky to be with him.”
Northwing Offshore Racing finished fourth out of 11 teams at Thunder On Cocoa Beach last month. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Bruggemann, who also throttles the Super Cat-class Valder Yachts/Pro Floors Racing MTI catamaran with owner/driver Wayne Valder, is pleased with their early-season progress.
“We have everything we need to win,” Bruggemann said. “It’s just going to come down to Daren and I in the boat to make it happen and put ourselves in the right position to be able to race for a podium win.
“And it always helps to have a little luck on our side,” he added, then chuckled.
The competition in the Super Stock ranks has “definitely escalated” during the past few seasons, Kittredge said. He expects that to continue next weekend in Sarasota. So far, nine teams have registered for the Powerboat P1-produced race, which will be held on Saturday as will several Bracket class contests and pole-position qualifying for Class 1 teams.
Practice makes perfect.
“I think it’s cool they are doing the Super Stock races on Saturdays,” he said. “It’s good for the fans. Plus, we’re not trying to condense every race into one day. You never know with the weather in Florida this time of year. It takes a little bit of the pressure off.”
Owned by former offshore powerboat racer Danny DeSantis, McLaren of Charlotte is among the team’s backers. Kittredge described the sponsorship as a “huge help and a great partnership.”
But he saved his highest praise for his fellow Super Stock-class competitors.
“I think the group as a whole is a great bunch of guys,” he said. “You can race like gentlemen and still be competitive. Most of the guys in this class are like that.
“The competition has been escalating, which is what it’s all about if you want to be a boat racer,” he added. “No one wants to race without competition.”
Said Kittredge, “You can race like gentlemen and still be competitive.”
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