The biggest and fastest boats(tm) in the world transcend on Sarasota for the Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix, July 4-7. KEY WEST, Fla.-- June 24, 2002-- The big boys are coming to town, powerboats capable of speeds of more than 170 mph will stir ...
The biggest and fastest boats(tm) in the world transcend on Sarasota for the Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix, July 4-7.
KEY WEST, Fla.-- June 24, 2002-- The big boys are coming to town, powerboats capable of speeds of more than 170 mph will stir things up in Sarasota for the July 4th holiday weekend. The Super Boat International racing series highlights the 18th annual Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix benefiting the Suncoast Foundation for the Handicapped with two races on Sunday, July 7.
The fourth stop on the SBI 2002 racing campaign has drawn references to the Indy 500 of offshore racing and brings the most talented drivers on the circuit to Sarasota for the most powerful racing on the planet. The SBI racing series has the most powerful boats racing today with the Superboat Unlimited class boats capable of housing four, 1,200-horsepower engines.
"Everyone is fired up about the big boats coming to town, we promise to stimulate all the senses during the week long celebration benefiting the less fortunate citizens in the surrounding Sarasota community, we are proud to be part of such a fantastic event," says John Carbonell, president of Super Boat International.
This year's field is to feature more than 35 of The Biggest, Fastest(TM) racing boats, in 10 classes racing on a 14.3-mile racecourse covering the waters off of Siesta Key and Lido Beach. Event officials estimate that close to 100,000 racing fans of all ages will be attending the five-day event that has become the longest consecutive offshore race venue in the U.S."We are totally excited to have Super Boat International and the biggest and loudest boats, be a part of the biggest and best event in the history of offshore racing, this event has been a great fundraiser for the Suncoast Foundation for the Handicapped," says Kevin Brown, Race Chairman.
The Wet Pits are located behind the Hyatt in the Quay Basin and the Dry Pits are located at Van Wezel parking lot, where Powerboats by the Bay offers up-close viewing of the boats and visiting with the racers. Sunday is race day and features two races, the first starting at 11 a.m. followed by a 1 p.m. start. After the second race an awards ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. at the Van Wezel lot. This year the play-by-play of the races can be listened to on WFLA 1450 AM. Racing fans will get the best viewing of the race from either the Siesta Key or Lido Key Beaches.
The Super Boat classes include Superboat, Superboat Vee, Superboat Unlimited and Superboat Vee Unlimited, which will race 7 laps or 100 miles. Superboat Vee Limited, Superboat Limited, Super Stock and Super X race 6 laps or 84 miles. Manufacturer 1 and 2 races 5 laps or 70 miles. Local 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 races 3 laps or 42 miles. Entry fees range from $700 for the divisional boats to $1,300 for the Super Boat Unlimited class.
Race headquarters is located at the Hyatt Sarasota located at 1000 Blvd. of the Arts in Sarasota, Fla. The hotel is within walking distance to the Parade, Powerboats by the Bay, the Wet and Dry Pits, as well as host of the World's Largest Offshore Party & the Driver Sponsor Party on Wednesday, July 3.
Powerboats by the Bay promises to be something not to miss with food and music and the close location to the Bay allows race fans to watch the boats prepare for the race, as the boats are lifted into the water, as well as meet the race teams and see all their expensive toys. Live music by local bands and the Miss Offshore Bikini Contest is scheduled to be held at the Budweiser Kilo Cafe, preliminaries are Friday 6:00 p.m. and Saturday 3:00 p.m., finals are Saturday at 6 p.m. Admission is free. A free shuttle is available from Sarasota High School to the events, the schedule is as follows, July 5, 12 p.m.-12 a.m.; July 6, 9 a.m.-12 a.m., July 7, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
After falling behind four laps with engine problems incurring on the first lap in last months race in Marathon, Fla., the Superboat Unlimited 50-foot Jaguar, Aqua Toy Store, driven by Tague Estes of Lighthouse Point, Fla. and throttled by Dan Campbell of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., were able to overcome the deficit to win its first race of the season and take over the lead in points for the season."We lost two of the four 1,200-horsepower engines the boat has because of an ignition problem after going under the first set of bridge pylons, with the other two engines only on one side it would have pulled the boat to one side and it would not have been safe to try to go through the bridge again at a high rate of speed. You have to respect these machines they are the most powerful racing machines around," said Campbell. The rest of the Superboat Unlimited class includes Jaws, Pier 57, Reverie and Snack Attack all capable of speeds more than 160 mph.
During the off season last year's team Snack Attack purchased the 2001 national champion in the Superboat Unlimited Class, Planetman. The boat is a 46-foot Douglas Skater, with twin supercharged 1,250-hp engines and currently holds the world speed record of more than 169 mph. The record was set while the boat was Planetman.
The costs of these boats are enormous, in the Superboat Unlimited Class boats can costs more than $1 million and just to maintain the boat for a year can cost more than $800,000. In SBI's Superboat Unlimited Class, boats with four engines have 4,800-horsepower. In comparison to a Nascar, it would take more than six, 750-horsepower racecars to equal one Superboat.
The Superboat Vee Class features Sarasota racers Bruce Kruglick and David Branch driving Muscle, a 41-foot Fountain with two 800-horsepower Mercury engines and won the first two races of the season in Miami and Ft. Myers, Fla. Winning the last race in Marathon on Father's Day, new father, Joe Sgro of Bellmore, NY, and Peter Meyer of Port Washington, NY will shoot for two in a row driving Instigator, a 40-foot Fountain powered by twin 1,200-horsepower engines. Still looking for their first wins of the season in the Superboat Vee class are Firewater and Shockwave.
The Superboat Limited class will showcase its top drivers with Zipp Express, a 36-foot Spectre with twin 500-horsepower engines, driven by Daniel Francis of St. Louis, MO, Montano Motorsports, driven by Gino Gargiulo of Pompano Beach, Fla. and Bankbeaters.com, driven by Robert Nunziato of Dania Beach, Fla., both boats are 35-foot Motions powered by twin 500-horsepower engines."So far this year the Superboat Limited class has had some strong racing so, Sarasota and its long racecourse will be a test for us," said Francis.
The Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix Festival was the vision of a few racing enthusiasts who had the foresight to realize this type of event could entice a community and benefit a special sector, the handicapped children and adults who reside in Sarasota. It began as a competition among offshore racers and has evolved into an event unmatched in magnitude for volunteer participation and spectator enthusiasm. The week-long festival directly provides funding for therapy treatment rooms, classrooms and residential facilities that resulted in two Child Development Center facilities, Child Evaluation Center, United Cerebral Palsy's Center for the Independent Living, the Loveland Center in Venice, Fla. and a one-of-a-kind sports training complex for Special Olympics.
Super Boat International and president, John Carbonell have been an innovators in the sport of offshore racing by introducing the" inshore" racing format in 1989. The inshore format allows fans access within 60 feet of a racecourse at some venues. The course was also shorten increasing the number of laps from 4-5 to 15-20 a race. The new structure has popularized the sport both for fans and for sponsors, and has changed the visibility of offshore powerboat racing.
The 2002 SBI racing schedule will continue at Deerfield Beach, July 12-14; Washington, NC, Aug. 2-4; New Jersey, Aug. 14-16; New York, Sept. 6-8; Bahamas, Nov. 26-28; New Orleans, Nov. 3-10.
For more racing information, call SBI at (305) 296-6166, or visit the Web site at www.superboat.com. For more information on the festival visit www.suncoastoffshore.org.