Powering through Key West – Rodrick Cox: A familiar face in new, improved boat races - A man standing in front of a car posing for the camera - Car
Rodrick Cox is the managing director of Race World Offshore, which city officials selected as the new producers of Key West’s powerboat races. But Cox has been part of the Key West boat-racing scene since 2002. He took some time to sit down with Keys Weekly and discuss some of the additional activities, exclusive VIP offerings and other new and exciting features in store during one of the biggest weeks for Key West tourism. BRITT MYERS/Keys Weekly

Rodrick Cox is a managing director of Race World Offshore, the organization that took over this year’s production of Key West’s offshore powerboat races.

The event that churns for three days of racing just outside Key West Harbor brings tens of thousands of racing teams, supporters and spectators to the island each November. 

Name: Rodrick Cox

Title and role: Managing director of Race World Offshore and owner of Cox Group, an advertising, marketing and public relations company based in North Carolina.

How long have you been involved with powerboat racing? Since 2002.

How did that happen? When I started Cox Group advertising and marketing firm, I started out with one customer — Citgo Petroleum. We had started with NASCAR, but in 2002, Citgo sponsored a powerboat and as my company grew, the sponsors of powerboats were my clients.

Any particular sponsors that might be familiar to Key West race fans? Citgo, Bud Select, Bacardi Silver and Drambuie on Ice — those are some really big-name boats that the race crowds in Key West will always remember.

When did Race World Offshore start? Larry Bleil started RWO about a year and a half ago.

This is RWO’s first time producing the Key West races, but where else has the RWO group held races? Last year we raced in Dunkirk, New York and Mentor, Ohio.

How do those places compare to Key West? Key West is the pinnacle of powerboat racing. These races this week are definitely the premier event in powerboat racing all over the country.

Why do you think that is? Well, aside from the weather, Key West is the second-oldest boat-racing site in the United States. People have been bringing boats down here to race since, probably, 1902.

How many boats are here for this year’s race? I think we’re at 30 boats in six classes.

What’s typically the most popular class of powerboats? A lot of people enjoy and recognize the Super Cat classes. They’re the most famous and infamous. And that’s the class that all the old-time heroes have been in.

How fast do the Super Cats go? They’ll typically run around 140.

Miles per hour?! Yes, ma’am. 

Surely those are the fastest, no? No, actually, we have three extreme boats that’ll run around 160 mph, but there’s not too many in that class this year. 

Any other personal favorite race classes that you’d recommend for spectators this week? I think the other great racing class is the Super Stock class. They’re smaller catamarans than the Super Cats and the Extreme boats, but they’re a blast to watch, running about 107 mph. 

We know you guys launched this week of racing on Wednesday, Nov. 6. But what race days remain this week? Race days are Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Is there only one winner announced on Sunday, or are there additional opportunities to win in each class? We’ve decided to name a winner in each class on each day of racing, so the winners of Wednesday’s races earned the title of Truman Waterfront Cup Winner. The winners of Friday’s races will be the Southernmost Continental Champions and the winners of Sunday’s final races will be the World Champions.

As new producers of this event, you guys also have some new activities planned. Tell us about some of those. We have 40 vendors set up down here each day at the Race Village. Plus, we’ve really elevated the VIP packages this year to provide a more exclusive experience for race fans. On Saturday, for the first time, we’re doing a Build a Boat contest using only duct tape and plywood, which should be a lot of fun.

And the concert?

Yes, the concert. We worked with Rams Head Productions, which manages the amphitheater down here at Truman Waterfront, and were able to get country music superstar Lee Brice to do a concert down here tonight (Thursday, Nov. 7).

Nick Norman, a hugely talented Key West musician, will open for him. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. It should be a really great time.

Finally, what does Race World Offshore “bring to the table” to ensure that Key West’s powerboat races continue to be a powerful draw for our tourism-dependent economy? Although Race World Offshore is a new name when it comes to producing the races, all the people involved, including myself, president Larry Bleil, plus all the safety crews and so many other people, we’ve all been around the Key West powerboat races for decades. So we’re bringing all the knowledge and experience we’ve collected for years to produce the best possible event in and for Key West.

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