With the 2012 domestic offshore racing season just underway, the SuperStock USA series P1 Panther class is creating the lion’s share of the news. First, Blake and Brock Gratton, the twin sons of Joey Gratton, the famed offshore racer who drowned in his raceboat after a crash at the 2011 Super Boat International Key West Offshore World Championships, announced they would race together in the class to honor their father. Then they went on to take first place overall at the first race of the season in St. Cloud, Fla.
"The weekend was truly incredible," said Blake. "There were a total of four heats, with each one of them a battle. Because we did so well in each heat, we had to start on the outside in each of them, which made it very intense as we picked off boats to get our first win. Everyone out there raced their hearts out, and raced well."
The brothers Gratton didn’t fare quite as well in the next event in Biloxi, Miss., in late April—they rolled their single-outboard-engine-powered 28-footer, escaping uninjured—but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a good weekend for the series and the class. Two speed records were set by SuperStock USA teams Livorsi Marine and Pier 57 for the P1 Panther 28SS at the first sanctioned Union Internationale Motonautique/American Power Boat Association Kilo run in nearly a decade.
Livorsi Marine pilots Andrew Biddle and Tracy Blumenstein, plus Pier 57 with Eric Treadwell and Jason Roesch aboard, each took to the one-kilometer course in Biloxi to see who would claim the initial speed record for the Panther class.
Livorsi Marine made the first pass, setting a top time that would remain throughout the four-hour event. Despite several attempts by Pier 57, the two-way average speed of 68.286 mph posted by Livorsi Marine established the first-ever speed record for the Panther and SuperStock.
The UIM’s international speed record rules require that competitors run the certified kilo course in both directions, and the average times determine the official speed. Conditions in Biloxi were described as “hot and sticky” by the teams, with a crosswind coming from the southeast. The course ran from east to west for the initial pass behind the famous Biloxi casino, in front of thousands of spectators.
“We have had a fantastic day”, said pilot Andy Biddle. “We ran well in the match racing to take the pole, and managed to win the first two heats of the weekend. Taking the kilo record is just the icing on the cake for a great day here in Biloxi.”
The Pier 57 team also entered as a qualified ProAm boat within the APBA rules, and established the new mark for the ProAm Class 5 with a two-way average speed of 65.516 miles per hour.
“By establishing these initial records we have set the mark for SuperStock teams around the world,” said Martin Sanborn of SuperStock. “We look forward to seeing teams racing in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, trying to break them.”