Why only 50 boats???? There were over 100 at Daytona...
Ft. Lauderdale’s World Famous Beach Becomes Back Drop for Speed
By Michelle May – Schmidt
While most sports are seen either by television screen, or by the seat of your pants on a bleacher in the stands, the sport of offshore powerboat racing lends itself to a less complicated, more comfortable seat… the beach itself. The sporting event is free for the viewing.
This October, Ft. Lauderdale’s world famous beach will lend itself as a back drop for speed, as fifty high performance vee bottoms and catamarans hit the surf in the Atlantic for some of the most spectacular "rough-water" racing ever seen.
True, the sport itself is more challenging than most, if only to figure out who is in the lead, yet with the New Auto Toy Store Thunder Row Dry Pits located just across the street at the Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort & Yachting Center, the problem is easily solved.
There, whether you’re a fan, a skeptic or pleasure boat enthusiast, you can spend an afternoon talking to the professional racers, mechanics, and transporters, who are more than happy to answer any racing or boating question you have.
Slide your hand down the length of a 40+ foot, million-dollar catamaran, with a fifty thousand dollar paint scheme… you can get that close to all the boats. Step onto the docks, and watch a top notch Crew Chief giving the once over before testing. You and your family can check out what’s under the hatch, and experience the thrill when engines that carry a price tag that resembles your yearly mortgage payment, roar into life. And that’s just the beginning.
The 2003 Ft. Lauderdale Offshore Gran Prix, presented by the Child SMILE America Tour will be held on Friday, October 3rd and Saturday, October 4th, at the Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort & Yachting Center, host of Race Headquarters that will include the New Auto Toy Store Thunder Row Dry Pits, boats and teams on display; the Aqua Toy Store Wet Pits, boats on display in the water; as well as a bevy of other sites, and tastes that accompany an exciting offshore powerboat racing weekend.
Friday will set the pace with testing off the shores of the world famous A-1-A strip, with offshore racing action on Saturday. The Thunder Row Pit areas, Parties, and Vendor Displays will be open to the public on both Friday, and Saturday, and a complete schedule of events is available at www.ftlauderdaleoffshoregranprix.com.
On Saturday, APBA Offshore Racing Action starts at 11:00 A.M. with the Outlaw Performance Classes, a Speed Bracket Competition that requires boats to stay within their top end speed for their class. At the same time, the Factory 1, single engine vee bottoms will join them on the water, along with the Battle of the Bats by the Reindl One Design Class, noted for their one of kind, Ocke Mannefelt designed boat with wings, also available to racer wannabe’s on a by-the-race lease.
Coming up at 12:30 P.M. is the Vee Bottom competition, with the Super Vee Light single engine entries, and Super Vee twin engine vee bottoms boasting speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour, followed at 1:30 P.M. with the Super Cat Light and Super Cat entries, with some of the most highly aggressive, professional drivers and throttlemen on the circuit today topping out at 140+ miles per hour.
Pleasure boaters may also take a seat in their own personal watercraft, in the designated Spectator Zones off the edge of the Race Course, which is manned by members of the Lauderdale Small Boat Club, the Marine Patrol, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and Sea Tow. The Lauderdale Small Boat Club, operating in Ft. Lauderdale since 1948, has over 400+ members, many of who will provide the race event itself with necessary Patrol and Rescue Boats to aid the racers in the event of emergency.
In the sky, flies two professionally manned rescue helicopters, with divers ready to deploy in the event of an accident on the course. All in all, the event, which allows boaters with a need for speed a forum to vent their competitive nature, will takes months in the planning, for the few hours of offshore delight provided to fans who come from across the world to see the latest technology on the field.
Dangerous? Absolutely, but far more safe than an average boat outing on any given weekend, after all, these racers are professionals. They take swim tests, and dunker tests if in a canopied boat. They wear jackets, helmets and other safety apparel which protects them from injury. Their boats, equipped with safety devices such as roll bars, and F-16 fighter jet canopies, must pass an inspection, before and after the competition. Many racers started out as pleasure boaters, and moved their way up the line by attending, and then participating in racing events across the country.
With prize money in the low thousands, these pro’s don’t race for money, but rather compete for the love of the sport, for charity, and mainly, for fun. Aggressive on the course, yet friends on the dock, here’s a sampling of just a few of the teams heading into the war on water in Ft. Lauderdale, and why and how they race.
Curtis Watkins, owner of the Patriot Offshore Racing Team, purchased a new 39’ Extreme vee bottom for the 2003 racing season. The driver, from Ft. Lauderdale and throttleman, John Thames, from Stowe, Vermont, decided to move up in class after getting hit on the side in their Factory 1, open cockpit boat. The accident pitched them into another boat, then into a 360-degree spinout. When they moved into a newer, larger, single canopy covered boat, they sought sponsorships to help cover the costs.
For The Switch Beverage Company, it was the perfect forum to help launch their newly innovative, 100% fruit juice blended, carbonated drinks. Not only does the team showcase The Switch Logo and slogan, "get off the hype.com" on their raceboat, RV, and tow truck as they travel the U.S. for competition, but the team also offers samples to fans at the race events themselves, many who have likened it to a refreshing soda pop. Good news is that the team loves it too, and the product, that contains no sugar, no corn syrup and no preservatives, is making a name for itself, along with the team that promotes it.
Watkins and Thames will compete at Ft. Lauderdale in the Outlaw Performance Extreme Vee Class, where their Competitive EDGE Marine based team is first in the National Points Standings. An added plus for the team is the addition of a second sponsor, Sentient Jet Co., which provides for elite jet membership services, so whether at 500 miles per hour in the air, or 118+ miles in the sea, the team is flying into Victory Lane.
Nigel "Captain" Hook showcases his Scarab Racing #7 vee bottom in the Super Vee category of APBA Offshore Racing. Like The Switch, he promotes his team under title sponsors, Lucas Oil Scarab, and promotes their product lines as well.
Hook, on the sticks with driver, Craig Archer at the wheel, and navigator, Tony Weise watching their back, does more than just hammer down the throttles in the boat. He also spends a tremendous amount of time off the track for worth causes, and takes Lucas Oil with him all the way.
Recently, Hook and the team, who compete both in the APBA Offshore GMC Pro Grade National Series, as well as the Pacific Offshore Powerboat Racing Association (POPRA), set up an arrangement with Camp Pendleton, where two U.S. Marines became Crew Members for the weekend.
Brothers Jason and Justin Lowe, who were waiting for overseas deployment, joined the team to help prepare Hook’s Lucas Oil Scarab for the Oceanside, California race, then watched them compete from a VIP luxury yacht. They finished with a ride in the raceboat around the course with Hook, and the two were awarded a checkered flag for their dedication, and sacrifice to our Country. The Lucas Oil Scarab Team will compete in the second heat of racing in the Super Vee Class.
Joining them will be fellow competitors, Team Donzi – Racing For A Cure, who have set their sites on more than just a top position in the standings, but honors on the pleasure boat field as well. The team, with last year’s National Champion’s Doug Valentine, driver, and Lee Murray, throttleman, are sponsored by Donzi Marine, the manufacturer of their raceboat, as well thousands of pleasure boats on the water today.
Donzi Marine, originated by legend Don Aronow, King of Thunderboat Row, has returned to its roots and uses the racing arena to test their latest innovations, the advancements of which are instrumental in the design of their pleasure boats of tomorrow. Their Donzi 38ZR is just one example of their award winning technology, and with the Team Donzi Super Vee, and Factory Two teams ranked number one in the national standings, those that purchase a new Donzi are the true winners on the water.
The team, managed by Director of Racing, Steve Simon, also campaign an even greater cause than the fight for the checkered flag. They join fellow their fellow Donzi Racing Teams under the theme Racing For A Cure, to help raise funds, and awareness for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the world’s leading, non-profit, non-governmental funding organization for diabetes research.
And charity goes over big with the offshore racing crowd. In fact, two of the most highly visible "charity" racers on the circuit today have to be Dr. Gerardo Santiago, and his Throttleman, Dr. Enrique Ochoa. These National and World Champion powerboat racing dentists use their Zero Cavity raceboat to travel the country and provide powerboat rides for children charities across the country as part of the Child SMILE America Tour. They will also be teaming up together Ft. Lauderdale to give powerboat rides in their 38’ Cigarette to the children from Kids In Distress, and then will jump into the racing arena in their Bat Boat to compete in the Performance Outlaw 4 Class, against a number of their friends, including David Meador’s Team Cast Off Racing, named after Meador’s own Cast Off Marine, yacht refinishing company.
Cast Off Racing, with Meadors at the helm, and Scott Pobojewski pushing the speed sticks, recently introduced their new Chief Engine program that propelled them into Victory Lane at the recent Savannah Offshore Gran Prix. The pair ended up with an impressive average lap speed of 74.76 miles per hour in their 38’ Cigarette, and the team is hoping for even greater results in Ft. Lauderdale, like taking the checkered flag ahead of Santiago and Ochoa in the P-4 Class.
Fans traveling to the Ft. Lauderdale Offshore Gran Prix will be the real winners of the day, as will the charity, Kids In Distress. Proceeds from the event, including donations from generous Child SMILE America Tour benefactors, the Barkley Geib Family, will total over $20,000.00 to benefit the new Child SMILE America Room at Kids In Distress. Racing Action is Free, Entry to the Thunder Row Race Pits is $10 per day, kids 12 & under Free, and entry includes a souvenir 2003 Offshore Racing Program, courtesy of Poker Runs America Magazine.
The Ft. Lauderdale Offshore Gran Prix is presented by The New Auto Toy Store, The Aqua Toy Store, Anthony Aviation, Anthony Holdings International, the Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort & Yachting Center, Competitive EDGE Marine, PokerRun.com, Poker Runs America Magazine and the Offshore Racing Review. Event Sponsors include Budweiser, Coca Cola Products, Hummerzine, Southern Racing Fuels, Sunoco, Freeze Frame Video, Jamie Russell's Professional Offshore Photography, Sea Tow, Elite Tent Company, Total Race Babe Apparel, Chief Engines, Cigarette Racing Team, Mares Powercats, Racing Communications, Bio Kleen, Mercury Racing and Powerboat Magazine.
APBA Offshore Powerboat Racing, as part of their Southeast Divisional Series, sanctions the event, and the Patrol Fleet is provided by the Lauderdale Small Boat Club.
For all information on the Ft. Lauderdale Offshore Gran Prix, including schedule, entry, hotel information and course coordinates, visit www.ftlauderdaleoffshoregranprix.com or call 954-796-9226 Tel/Fax.
Note: Highlights of this story will be published in the September/October Issue of Spirit Airlines "Skylights" Magazine. Watch for the August Edition of Poker Runs America Magazine, as well as the September Issue of Southern Boating.
Stay tuned for additional updates on the teams competing in the Ft. Lauderdale Offshore Gran Prix.
Last edited by FtLaudGranPrix; 08-01-2003 at 05:44 PM.
Why only 50 boats???? There were over 100 at Daytona...
marc (Offshore Paparazzo)
Senior Blue Hair~ I'm so old.. I remember
The marina at the Radisson is being rebuilt so there is only room for 50 boats this year. If you do not sign up early you may not get to race and the space is fillling up quick. Next year when the marina is finished and the parking lot is not half full of construction equipment they may be able to fit 100 boats.
With the race positioned as replacement points for an APBA Offshore National score, the Super Vee Class competition is already heating up with teams who want to up their totals in the Pro Grade Series. Already signed up are heavy hitters and long time racing champion's Team Donzi's Racing for a Cure, with Lee Murray and Doug Valentine, Nigel Hook and Craig Archer in Lucas Oil Scarab, and Bob Bull and Todd Klindworth in H & H Speed Marine. And that's just a few of the teams expected to come play in our rough water!
This is going to be a great event. Come down with the family and enjoy the weekend in Ft. Lauderdale and race along one of the world's most famous beaches but remember spaces are fillling fast so dont get left out.
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