In offshore racing’s version of what is known in the National Football League as a “short week,” teams that competed in last Sunday’s St. Clair River Classic in Michigan have six days to prepare for this Sunday’s Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City, Ind. But as with the NFL, all teams competing in the six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series have to face it.
The Supercat-class winner in last weekend’s St. Clair River Classic, the Pro Floors Racing team will have its boat repaired in time for this weekend’s Great Lakes Grand Prix (click image to enlarge). Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Said a chuckling Brit Lilly, the owner and driver of the LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness Pro Stock Vee and Super Vee raceboats, “I could go on for days about what my life is like in a rush like this.”
“The biggest challenge is for the crew getting the boat prepped and ready to go again, especially if you have a mishap the week before,” said John Tomlinson, the throttleman for the Supercat-class Performance Boat Center team.
The LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness team has two boats of its own—plus another team to assist—to prepare for Michigan City.
Teams that emerged from St. Clair with damage from such mishaps include Supercat-class winner Pro Floors Racing. Near the end of the St. Clair contest, the Pro Floors Racing MTI catamaran lost a starboard propeller blade and the vibration caused significant damage to the cat’s starboard drive and gimbal. Grant Bruggemann, the team’s throttleman and crew chief, and his crew are making the repairs in Michigan and will have boat ready in time for this Sunday’s Michigan City contest.
“Six of the eight studs broke off on the starboard gimbal,” said Bruggemann. “We ran the last lap-and-a-half finished the race and limped in.”
In the cooperative spirit that is pervasive in offshore racing, the M-Con team loaned Pro Floors Racing a drive and a gimbal, and Ed Smith—the owner of the Super Vee-class Instigator by Knucklehead Racing team—opened his locally based shop to the Pro Floors Racing crew.
“Between Ed and Tyler and Lindsey of the M-Con team, they said, ‘Take whatever you need,’” said Bruggemann. “Kasse Racing Engines has sent parts up for us, and they’re also flying out one of their techs to do what needs to be done to the motors to get everything ready for Michigan City.”
For the Supercat-class M-Con team, racing in Michigan City means running their new Skater Powerboats 438 raceboat, as a rollover in St. Clair knocked their 40-footer at least temporarily out of commission. So while M-Con team owner and throttleman Tyler Miller and driver Tyson Garvin don’t have a boat to repair, they do have one to adjust to and set up.
The M-Con team will compete in its new Skater 438 catamaran in Michigan City.
And then there is Miss GEICO, which competes against the Victory and 222 Offshore teams in the in Class One ranks. That Miss GEICO was even able to make it to St. Clair at all, much less finish the race, was something of a miracle. Damaged during a rollover at the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in early July, the team’s 41-foot Victory catamaran couldn’t be repaired in time for the St. Clair event, so the Miss GEICO team leased the Zabo team’s 41-footer, wrapped it in Miss GEICO colors, installed its backup Mercury Racing 1100 Comp engine and sent it to the race. Mercury Racing sent a new engine to St. Clair, and the team installed it there.
Electrical problems almost kept the boat from starting on Sunday. But crew chief Gary Stray and company worked through their issues and not only started but finished the race. For Michigan City, Stray said, the team is focusing on steering/handling issues.
“We sorted out most of the gremlins in St. Clair,” he said. “Will the boat be a world-beater in Michigan City? Probably not, but I guarantee it will be a lot closer to what we want than it was in St. Clair.”
For at least one team—Supercat-class WHM Motorsports—the Michigan City contest can’t come soon enough. Team owner and driver Billy Mauff and throttleman Jay Muller have triumphed in Michigan City for the past two years and are coming off a second-place finish in St. Clair.
“Michigan City is one of my favorite race sites—the venue is great the fans are great,” said Muller “Coming off a strong finish in St. Clair it would be great to three-peat there. Racing back to back is tough, but we’ve done it every year between St. Clair and Michigan City.”
WHM Motorsports team members Billy Mauff and Jay Muller are hoping for their third consecutive Great Lakes Grand Prix win in a row this weekend.
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