In announcement made through a press release from the Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 World Championship Series on Thursday, the XINSURANCE/Good Boy Vodka team is going with a new cockpit pairing for the remainder of the 2023 Class 1 season, which is promoted by Powerboat P1 and includes upcoming races in Michigan City, Ind. (Aug. 4-6), Sheboygan, Wis. (Aug. 11-13), and St. Petersburg, Fla. (Sept. 1-3).
Following a boating accident on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks last Saturday night in which the team’s throttleman and part owner, Alex Pratt, suffered relatively serious injuries as a passenger along with seven others after a friend’s center console ran aground in the dark, the team decided it was best to move forward with a new driver and throttleman for the last three Class 1 races plus the Race World Offshore World Championship in Key West, Fla., in November.
According to Rick J. Lindsey, president, CEO and chairman of the principal team sponsor, XINSURANCE, the decision was made in the best interest of the X/GBV team. In fact, he sent a letter to everyone with the team before making the news public.
“I’m sure all of you have heard about Alex’s accident,” Lindsey stated. “It may be some time before he can return to racing, so, starting immediately, Alex and Miles (Jennings, the team’s regular driver) will be replaced by Grant Bruggemann and Randy Kent. Miles did a great job, but with getting the new boat ready in a short period of time, logistically it just made more sense so the boat and crew can get as much testing and seat time as possible. We welcome Grant on board and wish Alex a speedy recovery.”
Reached via telephone this morning, Pratt opted not to comment. He did confirm that he will be in Michigan City for the Great Lakes Grand Prix.
Kent, who joined the team as its manager earlier this year along with team crew chief Gene Greber, said he had never planned to race the boat since he and his family decided his “in-the-cockpit” racing career was over after selling his former Superboat Unlimited Speed Racer-themed catamaran several years back.
Gene Greber, crew chief for the XINSURANCE/Good Boy Vodka Class 1 team (center), didn’t expect that team manager Randy Kent (right) and Grant’s Signature Racing owner Grant Bruggemann (left) would be racing in the team’s MTI a few weeks after the boat competed in its first race in Sarasota.
“We thought about finding someone else to drive, and even talked to a couple of people about it, but with my experience racing boats and cars, I was the most qualified and easiest solution for the season,” Kent told speedonthewater.com, adding that he’s cautiously optimistic about the team’s chances heading into Michigan City mainly because his new shop is close to Grant’s Signature Racing in Bradenton, Fla., so they should be able to do a ton of testing together. “I was satisfied with my role on the team and helping Gene manage it, but now it’s time to go racing. I’m looking forward to getting in the boat with Grant. I know the talent he brings to the table. So, combined with Gene’s talent and abilities and my experience and knowledge, I think we’re going to be very competitive.
“We’re looking forward to Alex getting better and returning to the team soon,” he added.
The current throttleman for both the Pro Floors Racing Super Cat-class MTI and the Northwing Super Stock-class Doug Wright, Bruggemann, who has an extensive boat racing background dating back to the late-90s, had the team’s new 48-foot MTI in his shop days before its first race, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix at the end of June. He looked over the boat that the team purchased from Team Abu Dhabi with Greber and company after it was repainted and re-rigged with its Mercury Racing 1100 Comp engines. He even ran it for a few minutes with Pratt.
“I have worked with Rick, Randy and Gene a bit previously and they seem to be a very well put together group who are just as committed to racing and winning, as I am,” said Bruggemann, who has raced in many classes and won several world titles but never competed in Class 1. “All the ingredients are there to put XINSURANCE/Good Boy Vodka at the front to compete for a podium. I’m stoked to get the opportunity to race Class 1; it’s an exciting time for the class. There’s a strong core there with P1 and Azam (Rangoonwala, P1’s CEO) and the teams they have in place. We’re talking Steve Curtis, Johnny Tomlinson, Giovanni Carpitella—those are the best of the best. There could be more teams like we have in Super Cat or Super Stock, but the competition is still excellent.
“Fortunately I was able to test the boat a little before Sarasota, but I’m eager to get some more seat time during practice in Michigan City,” he added. “I do think this team has all the tools it needs to win some races this season.”
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