BRADENTON – Grant Bruggeman has been racing boats in the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix for years.
“Last time we won in Sarasota was in 2013, 2014 we got second,” Bruggeman, the throttleman of STIHL 13, said.
Bruggemann started racing in Sarasota 16 years ago, and he came a long way to do it.
“[I’m] originally from Australia, left there when I was 22 and came to the United States,” he said.
Now, he’s a 4-year Bradenton resident who races boats in his own backyard.
“Yeah it is our own backyard and it’s great to do it,” Bruggemann said. “It means a lot to us to come here and see the children, do the meet and greet, and also a weekend full of boat festivities – Saturday racing, Sunday racing.”
It’s racing that he and his partner Jake Noble practice frequently.
“Preparation starts from the moment we leave the previous race, which is about a month ago,” Bruggemann said.
Although he’s been racing full-time since 1999, the thrill doesn’t go away.
“Yeah there’s a lot of nerves,” Bruggemann said. “It’s two of us in there so definitely nerves are there until that green flag drops, and then we have a job to do.”
It’s a job he couldn’t do alone.
“You know you gotta become one, the both of us in there,” Bruggemann said. “Coordinating around the race course is a lot harder than it looks at the speed we’re doing.”
The racing is not the only thing Bruggemann is looking forward to this weekend.
“We’re gonna have the STIHL 13 downtown, and myself and my fiancée Kellie are gonna get married up on the deck,” he said. “What’s better? It’s a hometown, getting married, boat racing, hopefully win it on Sunday, would just top everything off.”
It’s a time to celebrate, but also a time to focus.
“There’s a lot of professionals out there so the competition is strong,” Bruggemann said, “and we have to be on our A-game to put STIHL up front.”
He said he has one mission when he gets out on the water.
“Get to the checkered flag first,” Bruggemann said. “That’s the main thing. We gotta keep the speed up, get around the race course as best as we can, and hopefully win it.”
STIHL 13 takes the water at the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix at 2:45 P.M. Sunday, July 2nd.
For more Race to the Grand Prix stories, visit: snntv.com/race-grand-prix/