The MTI 390XR campaigned by driver Taylor Scism and throttleman Johnny Tomlinson last year in the new Stock 450 class has been purchased by first-time offshore competitor Randy Keys of Iowa. Keys, who will drive the boat with veteran boat and auto racer—and Keys’ neighbor—Billy Allen on the sticks. Scism and Tomlinson, meanwhile, will be racing a newly built MTI 390X.
Allen, the World Champion owner/throttleman of the 32′ Doug Wright S-17 Team Allen Lawn Care in Super Stock class, plans to perform “double duty” in both boats this season.
“I don’t know how he’s going to do it,” Keys chuckles. “I don’t know how any of them do it.” Keys says he’s in for the long haul this season, vowing to race at every event Allen will be attending.
“It was an honor to be asked to join the team,” Allen told Speedboat. “We’ll be going up against Johnny Tomlinson, who I talk to a lot, probably most than boat racers. I really look up to him and just love the guy to death. I have learned so much from him. I’m really excited to be racing against him and Taylor.”
As campaigned by Scism and Tomlinson, the Marine Technology boat was a distinctive blue color. When Keys debuts it at the OPA season opener, it will sport an all-new wrap of blue and silver and black by a local shop in Des Moines, as seen above. (The logo of Keys’s own company, Schaal Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, will be be prominently featured on the boat, as will KLOVAR, which is a combination of the initials of all of Randy’s family members.) When the wrap job has been completed and the Mercury Racing 450R outboards are reinstalled, Keys will begin testing the boat.
Aside from some dirt-bike and off-road vehicle competition, Keys says the only on-water racing he’s done so far has been in the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in his Wright Performance 360, which he has now sold. “I’ll probably take the MTI to the Shootout,” he says, “and I really would like to go to Englewood as well. If Billy can’t make it, I’ll probably try to get someone else to run with me.”
Keys tells Speedboat that Billy Allen, and other offshore racers, have played a major role in guiding him in his journey. “I’ve learned so much from Billy, and all of the other racers really have been really open about sharing information to bring you up to speed. Billy’s driver, Cody McDowell, has also taught me so much as well. It’s been a real learning year for me.”
Asked about his goals and expectations for the season, Keys describes his mindset as extremely competitive. “I plan to stay in front of all the other boats,” he says. “I realize that everyone who has a boat in our class is going to have a great throttleman, but I think Bill’s experience, combined with my spending a lot of time testing this spring, my expectation is a National Championship and a World Championship. I realize that may not sound realistic, but that’s going to be my expectation. I didn’t get into it to lose, that’s for sure!”