Grand Prix takes step up in class

January 28, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY – The annual Great Lakes Grand Prix is already one of the most popular and well-attended events on the Michigan City lakefront, and the event is hoping to gain some new prestige while adding an exciting new class of racing.

Thanks to a partnership between Powerboat P1, the world’s leading marine motorsport brand; and OPA Racing, a new American Power Boat Association (APBA) Offshore Championship has been created, with Michigan City set to host the penultimate round.

The two promoters on Jan. 17 announced details of the sites for a six-venue series, and it includes the 11th annual Great Lakes Grand Prix on Aug. 3-4 in Washington Park. Michigan City will join the high-profile race series, which includes events in Florida, Missouri and Michigan between May and late September.

“The aim is to strengthen the future of racing in this country by delivering an expanded, cohesive, world class championship split equally between northern and southern states” Lucy Nicandri of Powerboat P1 said.

“The belief is that the new series will produce significant results commercially and also in terms of the sport’s organization and profile.”

For Grand Prix weekend in Michigan City, P1 will include powerboats and, for the first time, personal watercraft AquaX racing.

The AquaX USA Pro Series attracts top riders from across the United States and Canada, as well as South America and Europe; and the series will head to Michigan City for the third round of a five-venue championship.

Jack Arnett, executive director of the La Porte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said he’s excited about the opportunity presented by the APBA Offshore Championship.

And so is Mayor Ron Meer.

“As we enter the second decade of the Great Lakes Grand Prix, I am delighted about the new P1/OPA partnership and the far-reaching and positive impact it will have on our city,” Meer said.

“The Great Lakes Grand Prix continues to grow into one of Indiana’s and the Midwest’s biggest events, and showcasing more of these spectacular boats on our lakefront will undoubtedly increase the level of enthusiasm and excitement.”

Race director Rick Wright said the future of the Michigan City event is based on getting more national and international attention, and he expects the new racing series to achieve that.

“We have spent a lot of time and effort building the event, and people come here to enjoy the weekend of racing with the racers treated like rock stars,” he said.

“Since we began racing in 2003, we have staged more than 600 races in 18 countries, but this will be our first visit to Michigan City,” said Azam Rangoonwala, chief executive of Florida-based P1. “Our aim is to stage a great weekend of sport and entertainment for residents and visitors.”

Rangoonwala added, “Partnerships are at the heart of our business and our events are designed to excite and entertain, ensuring spectator enjoyment and sponsor value with a significant impact for the local economy.”

Meer said “Michigan City, our residents and businesses proudly look forward to welcoming the racers, their teams, families and all the fans to witness our beautiful community and another epic Michigan City Great Lakes Grand Prix.”

—From staff reports