The 28th Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix, on the heels of Tropical Storm Debby, drew record crowds to the streets and beaches of Sarasota, Florida and culminated with a victory for Lucas Oil MavTV race team. The blazing red 48’ Silverhook Vee Bottom started in last place, which first appeared to be a deficit not likely to be made up, and proceeded to march through the field in a 14-¾ lap battle.
Action started Friday night with the popular boat parade that runs downtown Main Street. Local officials stated there was a record attendance exceeding 50,000 people. Main Street and side streets were packed with people and the local businesses seemed to be doing quite well. The Lucas team of Nigel Hook and Michael Silfverberg waved to fans from atop their boat along with a local marching band in tow. It was evident they were making an impression in the parade and that carried through to Sunday’s offshore race.
'This is a very special place for me… and to win, makes it that more special, comments Throttleman, Nigel Hook. We took first place here and were awarded the Kevin Brown award. Kevin was a very exceptional man and did so much for the Children’s Charity… so this is a very meaningful win for us.' Driver Michael Silfverberg remarks about the start of the race, 'we inherited a problem from Saturday’s test. The water is quite shallow at the cranes and we ingested enough debris in the sea strainers we could have opened a restaurant. In the milling area, we were seeing very high temperatures on the motors and we started the race on one engine. After the start, we fired the other motor and saw the readings starting to drop so we felt our situation was improving. After a full lap, we believed things were good and we knew then, we had a race ahead of us.'
Team Phantom won their first race in the Superboat Vee Limited class in their 30’ Phantom. Owner / driver Mark Niemann was very excited with the win.
“This was a very hard race today; we did our homework and we came out on top. Sarasota is our home course… I know the area (Lido Beach) and what’s going on in the water. The boat did a great job and it was up to us to make the boat happen. We had a great fight with Sun Print and we won, we’re very very happy.”
The Tropical storm that exited the area just in time for the offshore race was gone, but not without eroding the beach and leaving it with much less real estate for beachgoers to claim. With less sand and beach, fans had to squeeze in and make room for the tens of thousands of people here to cheer on their favorite teams. This year, the event appeared to have many more spectators on the beach and spectator boats offshore than in years past.
Other teams that claimed first place in their various respective classes included, WHM Motorsports (Superboat), Black Sand (Superboat Stock), Instigator (P1), Miss Hawaiian Tropic (P2), Driven To Perdition (P3) and Dare Devil (P4).
“The racing in both races was very exciting today and I believe we really gave the fans and the people from Sarasota a great show. So often, we hear from local businesses and people from here about how much they appreciate Super Boat coming to town and how positive it is for the community. They especially love to see the Super Boat Semi in the parade,” comments John Carbonell, President of Super Boat. “We appreciate the local commitment to Super Boat and all the great comments when we come to town. We are already looking forward to next year.”
Miss Geico Racing has been struck by some bad luck this year in the first two Super Boat races. Most recently in Sarasota, the team practiced on Saturday and encountered a fire, which appeared to destroy their 50’ Mystic.
The SBI medical team and local authorities assisted the driver and throttleman and we were happy to say, they were uninjured. “You never want to see this happen to a race boat or anyone… I am happy Marc (Granet) and Scotty (Begovich) weren’t hurt, but I’m sorry the team has a damaged boat. I know they will continue to work hard and come back racing very soon,” comments Carbonell.
The Super Boat racing season starts in the middle of May and runs through the second week of November, culminating with the Key West World Championships in Key West, Florida. The Super Boat schedule is posted through 2013 with races in Cocoa Beach, Sarasota and Miami, Florida; Michigan City IN; New York, New York; Clearwater and Key West, Florida.
The next race for Super Boat International is July 13th – 15th in Miami, Florida for the 22nd Miami Super Boat Grand Prix. Teams will arrive Friday to the dry pits that are located in Bayfront Park, a new location for this year. Super Boat testing will be on Saturday, the 14th and racing will be held Sunday, July 15th at 1:00 pm.