BOATING > JBS and XVI Power Racing join Class1 Championship

JBS and XVI Power Racing join Class1 Championship

April 17, 2022

JBS with XVI Power hits the Class 1 Powerboat Championships
JBS with XVI Power hits the Class 1 Powerboat World Championships

I have talked about doing this for years. I wanted to interview some of the boating legends from WI. We did our family spring break down in the Florida Keys this year and I thought, what a great way to kick it off by interviewing Jeff Stevenson - JBS Offshore Racing.  I made a few calls and Jeff agreed to get together. I found out the next day from Matt at Speed on the Water that Jeff and XVI power just got accepted to the Class 1 World Series! I will let the interview do the rest of the talking. See the photos and the full video below. I hope you enjoy it!

Today we are taking some time out to talk with Wisconsin’s own Jeff Stevenson. I have been friends with Jeff for a very long time. Since I was coming down to his home turf in Key Largo,  Florida, I planned on stopping in to see him and I thought, what a great opportunity to ask some questions and do a small video to share with everyone. Jeff used to live in Winneconne, Wisconsin and was a regular boater on the Lake Winnebago system. As many of you know Jeff has been in the boat racing world for over 19 years and is a National and World champion that also owns and operates XV1 Power Racing. XV1 power is a v16 motor that is producing crazy horsepower and making waves. I think it is very cool that Wisconsin has so many boat racing roots with people that have changed the boat racing industry like Jeff. He was out of racing for 8 years and has since returned to racing last year with XVI Power. Jeff’s new adventure with XV1 Power will be exciting to watch as they have just been placed into the class 1 World Powerboat series giving him the chance to race against the very best the world has to offer.

“Jeff, I see you have a number of checkered flags there behind you. Can you tell us what is your favorite checkered flag?”   

“My very favorite to start with would have to be my very first one which was the Marathon, my next favorite, I think is the OSS or the OSS Biloxi which was one of my most favorite races but the most meaningful is the world championship flags.”  

“Jeff, I see you have a number of trophies and plaques displayed over in this area. What's your favorite over here?”  

“The same thing. The world championship trophies are usually the most memorable but really I think my favorite is the Top Gun from Key West. That's my favorite trophy. “

“Are those all of your trophies or do you still have a few more laying around?”  

“Well, some have fallen down or broken, some aren't up. That's just what I put together. It's my little shrine.”

“So what's coming up next for you in XVI Power racing?”  

“Coming up next is the new boat. We've got the new v16 engines we've been working on for 10 years and you know we're starting to race again and the goal is just to get to as many events as we can right now and promote these engines and show people these engines and what they can do. And I got Mike Stancombe on board this year and he and I together are great it's been really fun which is kind of what it's all about. So it's going to be really fun and really exciting here this year.”

“Was last year your official start back into racing?” 

“Yes, last year was. You know we've been rigging this boat for four years and it all kind of happened quite quickly and all of a sudden I got this boat dropped in my lap and we hit the ground running and started racing and that's how it all happened. It happened quite quickly.’

‘’So how did last year go for you?”

“Last year was great it was sort of what we expected. We didn't really know where we would stand with the engines and with the gear ratios that we had. We literally had the props that they gave us with the boat so we really didn't have a lot of testing we just had what we had. We ran against bigger boats and we kind of knew that we were going to get third. You know they have over twice as much power so we know where we would stand. But we had fun and we're going to be a force in a comparative power class.”

“How did you feel about the overall motor performance last year?” 

“The motors are awesome but we did just re-gear for acceleration so we needed that. But the top speed in the boat is great and the boat handles amazingly compared to the mystic. It's just fun and a great boat.”

“How did you determine which boat to buy and put these motors into?’ 

“Our decision-making on that boat was it was affordable.  Anyway, no, it had the four seats that had a canopy and four seats would allow us to give rides but we needed a cat to put these engines in to showcase the engine so that's how it started and that's what we got. We got that boat without engines in it so came with drives and we just put in our engines and away we went.”

“If you could pick out any boat to race with and put the new motors in, what would be your favorite boat?”

“Man, that is a really tough call because I love the MTI.  I really fell in love with it the second I drove it and I know that we're going to need a bigger boat down the pike but I don't know if the bigger boats handle as this one does. So that's unknown to me, but it's MTI right now.’

“In all your years of racing what's your scariest story?” 

“Getting run over in Fort Myers was by far the scariest but it happened so fast that we literally didn't even know what had happened till long after and then it was scary.”

“Is it true you actually had a prop mark in the helmet after the crash?” 

“I don't think I had a prop mark on my helmet but I got hit in the head with the bottom of the boat and you can see that in the video it's crazy. It was as close as it gets.”

“So how many times have you rolled over?”  

“I've only been over once I believe in Miami.”

‘Any other close calls that you remember?” 

‘That's it for crashes. Fort Myers, we had bumped into another boat first. That's what caused us to spin out so that was a hard collision. We sort of flipped over in Miami in like 10’ seas. I had no idea what was happening. It was the first time in the Super B race and we didn't know what happened but we were winning.”

“I had heard that the JBS turbine boat had the bottom actually delaminated or came apart. Is that true?” 

“Yeah, it's very true.’’  

“So what happened with that?” 

“That was in Miami in the Bermuda triangle. Again, we were just doing the race and hauling ass and started to get reports that parts and pieces were coming off the bottom. We knew had an issue and we were on the phone with John Cosker and they had told us previously that it was just cosmetic and was nothing to worry about so we kept pressing on and pressing on. On the last lap of the race, I thought we had won. Right towards the finish line, the whole bottom starboard side of the boat came off. Water blew in through the dash and blew me over. Bent the seat bolts off my seats. I had a radio panel beside me that actually blasted that out it was like a fire hydrant of water. It was insane! And then the whole side of the boat went down nearly instantly and it was bad.”

“Wow! So how fast were you going?” 

“Not fast because we had slowed down. It probably happened because we had slowed down and put more pressure on the panels. It happened and there's nothing we can do about it now. We were just giving bad information and we suffered for it.”

“Can you tell us how you get started in boat racing?” 

“I got started in boat racing I guess in the later 90s or early 2000s. I'd been always watching it on Speed Vision and on tv. I always had an interest in it but never came across it or saw it. I moved to Wisconsin and we were out water skiing Lake Winnebago and saw what turned out to be Shake the Lake. Way back then it was a real APBA race. I kind of ran into it not really knowing much about it. I started meeting people and the next year the races were in Milwaukee. Again started to go there and meet the people and started going to Key West watching the races and again meeting people. By that time I had a bigger Donzi with the 525s and I thought, man I could be doing this! I was doing it anyway every weekend with poker runs and friends.  I already had the boat and already had the equipment and thought, I should be doing this!  I already knew this and already had the equipment so it was really exciting to finally just go do it and that's how I got started just went and did it.”

“So when was the first time you won a race then?” 

“My very first race was the first race that I won so in Marathon in 2004. Similar to now, here we got the boat and boom! We're head to head with the world championships and away we go! We were off to the races just immediately and did very well right away. I think we won we won every race except one that year.”

“When was the first time you won a world-class race?’ 

‘My first world was the same year, 2004. I  won Key West in 2004 World National and World Championship 2004.”

‘What kind of boat were you running at that time?” 

“At that time was the Donzi 38 ZR comp and it was just an incredible boat.”

“What caused you to get out of racing?” 

“I got out of racing because I was just into it too heavy. My dream was pretty big and it got really expensive we didn't get sponsored and it kind of ended quickly. We lost the boat and that was kind of the end of it.”

“Interesting. So then what brought you back into racing?”  

“My interest and passion for boating and racing are definitely very high. It's been hard to not be doing it but I invested in this engine company after I sold all the turbine stuff and started to pursue this engine company and that's the direction that I went, and after a while, the engines became a reality and it was time to get a boat. So we found this MTI and here we are.”

“Very cool so what made you get into XVI power?” 

“XVI Power was sort of born out of everything I learned with racing - all the frustrations with all sorts of expense and lack of reliability. I figured there's just got to be an easier more effective way to do this and a more sustainable way to stay racing.”

“Well, that definitely makes sense. So what are your plans for this year? How many races do you think you guys will be in this year?” 

“We're going to try to do as many races as we possibly can. We have some interest in some different sanctioning bodies. We don't have the answer right now but we're going to do as many as we can and as many events as we can. Mostly all the Florida ones and we're definitely looking at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.  I'd like to go there and set a naturally aspirated record and like I said as many events as we can do.”

 “I think we've already hit on this earlier, but can you tell us why you went with MTI and what drives you went with?”  

“Well, we picked the MTI after we looked at a bunch of different boats. But we picked the MTI because it was a canopy boat. We knew that we needed a canopy to be safe but it also had back seats so we knew we could give people rides in it. Something that we were interested in being able to do. The boat came with the number six drives on it which is what we needed for the power so we needed that just to start with. It was a great piece of hardware and it's turning out to be an amazing race boat as well.”

“What options would I have if I have a powerboat and I want to put a XVI Power motor in it?” 

“Depending on your boat if you have a 20’ boat you're probably going have to do some work to get it in. But for the most part, these engines are only I think 10” or 11” bigger than a dressed big block so not that much bigger. They're also aluminum so they're lighter and it is small blocks so they're narrower and lower in your engine bay. Their lower center of gravity also gives the ability to work around it in the engine bay as compared to a big block so the size difference is smaller, it's lighter, and you can work on it easier.”

“One of the things you mentioned earlier that I think people might like to know is you had mentioned that XVI Power might be a great option if you have a diesel motor and want to have that swapped out?” 

“Yeah, the v16 is really a direct replacement for Detroit diesel and for any application really but for cruisers, trucks, bulldozers, you know, anything. It's again half the weight of a cast diesel so your weight savings are instant.”

“When you're not racing what do you like to do for fun?”  

“If I'm not racing I usually have the fam but [I] try to fish.  I've been great at fishing but not good at catching so I'm learning how to fish in the Keys.”

“What are your favorite places to go to in the Keys?” 

“My favorite place in the Keys right now is Key West. It is by far just the funnest place to go and be. But for around here in Marathon the Sombrero Beach is awesome in Key Largo you know I have my favorite restaurants, and Gilbert's is pretty close and where all the poker runs and stuff goes. So we always end up there too. I  just love living down in the Keys. It's been really great.” 

“Does that mean you're not coming back to Wisconsin?” 

“Hell no, I'm not going back to Wisconsin.”

“Okay, one last question for you Jeff. You mentioned that you're going to be moving to a different class. Can you tell us what class you're moving to?”  

“XVI Power has been accepted into class one in the P1 circuit which is really the premier class in that organization and it’s just really exciting. We're talking about truly international competition and it's really going to be amazing.  I mean really looking forward to it. Now we really will be going to have world-class teams that we're up against and I am really blown away and can't wait to see you know how it all goes and how it pans out.”

“Thank you, Jeff, for your time and hospitality. I truly enjoyed talking and spending time with you during the interview and out on the beautiful Florida waterways.  I can't wait to see what this year brings for you and XVI Power!”

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