New P1 Superstock Raceboat
Earl, my trusty cameraman, and I flew to Charlotte amidst tornado warnings and record rainfall. We made the four-hour drive in seven hours to Greenville, where we met Martin Sanborn, Managing Director of Powerboat P1 USA. What he had to show us was worth the perilous journey.
Upon seeing P1's sleek new 28' Panther, the styling of this sexy machine screamed "speed." The contrast of the orange and black is striking. It's an excellent color combination, though we were told that the very next version would be yellow and black. The twin step-bottom features two strakes that run the entire length of the boat. The modified pad keel works exceptionally well with the 7-foot-wide beam. The ultra-clear custom-made windscreen was constructed by Aero Marine.
The prototype currently has a notched transom, but the tooling doesn’t include a notch, due to the need for further testing. Italian designer Riamondo Iuretig of Iuretig Designs took styling cues from Formula 1 race cars for the design of the deck and a remarkably artistic appearance. The deep and spacious cockpit allows for both maximum visibility and protection. Livorsi gauges adorn the dash, which features a modern carbon-fiber look. Our test drive in the craft was truly impressive—the boat handles with grace and responsiveness, and its turning characteristics are among its top selling points. The 300-hp outboard helps it achieve speeds around 75 mph.
The Panther was built with a dual purpose in mind: the deck/hull configuration can be used as a race boat on Saturday and a recreational poker run boat on Sunday. With a five-minute modification, which involves removing the fiberglass cowling and replacing it with two custom Recarro seats, you wind up with plenty of storage in the bow with room for small ice chests in the rear of the cockpit. Efficiency was the watchword during the design phase: With both national and international race series in the works, this Panther was designed to easily fit inside a shipping container. According to Sanborn, a racer could ship the boat internationally for under $2,700. Additionally, Sanborn told us that the boat's design and tooling lends itself to an easy export of the production process itself, not just the boat. "The entire set of tools will fit in a container; we can set up an entire manufacturer anywhere in the world, and the construction will be identical, because the tooling's all from us," he explained.
The long-term plan is to manufacture in the Middle East by licensing a version of the series there for global platform with the exact standards. Domestically, there will be no more than 10 races, including an overall tour and championship. But the "grand plan," to launch in 2011, is to offer a strong series of regional races strategically placed around country with a regional championship to act as a hub to qualify for a national championship. Ideally, by 2014-15, Sanborn said he hopes to have a minimum of 200 boats built and a full-blown series culminating in a World Cup event.
The ultimate goal, he said, will be a grass-roots effort to "attract new people into the sport who want to compete on a truly level playing field where a person's checkbook isn't the determining factor." You'll be able to get involved in the circuit by buying a boat (projected retail cost is $90K), or by leasing it for as little as a weekend for a specific race—with lease agreements available to be applied toward purchase.