LAPORTE | Professional boat racing is coming to LaPorte.
The U.S. Formula 1 Powerboat/Formula One P.R.O.P. Tour added LaPorte to its schedule of eight races this year.
The event in LaPorte, called "Maple City Grand Prix," will occur at Stone Lake starting May 31.
Tunnel boats that are 17 feet long and travel up to about 130 miles per hour will take part in qualifying rounds on June 1 before the actual race the next day.
"It will be the most exciting thing you'll ever see," said one of the racers, Chris Fairchild, of Chicago.
"They're so fast on the water and turn on the dime," said Jason Miller, sports development manager for the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Miller said attendance is hard to predict but he hopes for a turnout of 20,000 people or more during the three-day event.
Another racer, Lynn Simburger, traveled from his home near St. Louis to attend Friday's announcement at Blue Heron Inn along Pine Lake Avenue.
He said LaPorte was added to the circuit because Stone Lake seems to have ideal sight lines for fans and the community was very welcoming.
"This could turn into a really, really good event. If folks like what they see, hopefully, we'll come back," said Simburger.
About 40 boats will compete in three divisions, with the slowest boats traveling up to 40 miles per hour driven by children ages 9 to 14.
The racers will be coming from places as far away as Seattle, Miami, Texas and Canada.
"All four corners," said Simburger.
LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo said events like Taste of LaPorte will be scheduled to coincide with race weekend.
She said the race was brought here after her administration approached the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau with a desire to get more use out of the city's inland lakes and other amenities.
"I couldn't be more excited about it," Milo said.
Miller said he made contact with the decision makers with the circuit and a deal for the race in LaPorte was struck quickly.
"These are fun boats to watch race," Miller said.