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St. Pete’s Tim Ramsberger named head of U.S. operations for P1 Powerboat

Mark Parker

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The inaugural P1 powerboat Grand Prix took place Sept. 4 and 5 by the St. Pete Pier. Photo: P1.

Tim Ramsberger

Less than two weeks after P1 roared into St. Petersburg, bringing its powerboats and jet skis to the new pier for the first time, the aqua-racing company has named a local to lead its North American operations.

Tim Ramsberger, former COO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater (VSPC), has been named President & Chief Executive of its Powerboat P1’s United States operations. P1, which holds powerboat races under the P1 Offshore brand and races jet skis under the P1 AquaX moniker, is headquartered in the United Kingdom with its main office in London. Its North American division is headquartered in Apopka.

Before taking the position at VSPC in 2016, Ramsberger spent decades working with globally recognized sports entertainment organizations, including Disney Sports, FIFA World Cup, the Olympic Organizing Committee, Andretti Sports Marketing and Indy Car. As a native of Pinellas County, Ramsberger told the Catalyst, he enjoyed his time at VSPC. However, sports and racing are in his blood.

“It was a good opportunity at the time for me,” said Ramsberger. “I do really like the fact that I’m getting back into the private sector and getting into a sports property that’s really fun and one of those aspirational lifestyle kinds of sports.”

Ramsberger was familiar with P1, as VSPC was a sponsor and helped organizers put on events back when the races were held behind the Post Card Inn and the Don CeSar. Ramsberger said he never imagined himself leading the organization, and when he was approached by P1 about taking the position, he gave it a lot of thought and due diligence.

“We had quite the conversations about what they (P1) wanted to accomplish and the things that I might bring to the organization,” said Ramsberger. “I think we all agreed that it was a good fit for all of us involved, and so I’m very excited to be coming in the door here – it’s a great organization.”

Ramsberger said he has been working remotely from his home in Treasure Island, with the occasional commute to the office in Apopka. With Ramsberger at the helm, that could change – and another global business could be coming to St. Petersburg.

“We are looking at the possibility of relocating the office here to St. Pete,” said Ramsberger. “There’s a number of things we are evaluating.”

There are also plans to grow the P1 Grand Prix recently held at the St. Pete Pier. Ramsberger said it has “great possibilities,” and they have “great expectations” for the event. He said it has quickly become the signature event for the company, and could potentially be something “pretty iconic” for the flourishing downtown St. Pete waterfront.

Ramsberger will oversee events throughout the state of Florida, the U.S. and the Caribbean. The Bahamas have previously held the jet ski national championships, and P1 is currently in talks to bring marine racing back to the islands. Ramsberger said that like any industry, the pandemic has created new challenges.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we are looking at hitting a pretty significant reset in our strategy and the business model that we want to operate under,” he said.

Ramsberger compares having both boat and jet ski races to motorsports. He said that during his time with the Grand Prix, and working on auto races around the country, there were always people who would show up specifically to watch the sports cars race – like Porsches and Corvettes – because those are cars they can drive. He believes marine racing fans share that sentiment.

“It’s an interesting sport where we have people that are interested primarily in the boats and those that are interested primarily in the skis,” he said. “Then we have those that appreciate both, so there’s a lot of opportunity with both aspects of racing on the water for us.”

Another opportunity that is still in the discussion phase is bringing back the Travis Pastrana P1 Offshore invitational. Held in April, the made-for-TV event was not publicized, as it was not intended for in-person spectating. However, the event was broadcast nationally on CBS. Pastrana (arguably the most influential athlete in extreme sports) invited several high-profile names to experience boat racing for themselves.

Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch, IndyCar racer Connor Daly, action sports pioneer Brian Deegan and decorated Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell were some of the racers that navigated 32-foot powerboats on that 1.7-mile course around the St. Pete Pier.

“We look forward to possibly bringing it back,” is all Ramsberger could say at this time.

 

 

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