Maple City Grand Prix returning to LaPorte

2014-03-21T18:52:00Z 2014-03-21T21:13:25Z Maple City Grand Prix returning to LaPorteStan Maddux Times Correspondent
March 21, 2014 6:52 pm  • 

The Maple City Grand Prix will return to LaPorte, and this time the city is being given top billing on the powerboat racing tour in only its second year.

The US F1 announced Friday its 2014 Formula One racing series will debut in LaPorte with tunnel boat races on Stone Lake.

The boats will hit the water from May 29 to June 1. Formula Two racing starts May 2 in Texas.

LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo said US F1 during its inaugural run last year in the city was, "so impressed with our venue that they decided to make it their premiere event for the 2014 season."

She also said there will be more boats and events during this year's three-day event.

Last year, Milo said turnout for the Maple City Grand Prix along with a parade, Taste of LaPorte and other events held during the three-day period generated an economic impact of more than $1.4 million.

An estimated 15,000 people turned out last year, which was somewhat below the number anticipated with gusty winds and chilly weather blamed for the lower-than-expected attendance at Stone Lake beach.

Jack Arnett, executive director of Visit Michigan City LaPorte, said there's talk of moving the boat parade to Thursday or the day prior to the boats hitting the water to generate more interest.

Other new events are also discussed like fireworks and more "children friendly, family friendly things to go with the race at the park."

"These are all things that are a work in progress," Arnett said.

Arnett credited the city, business community and other groups again banding together along with the response to the racers last year for US F1 deciding to return.

With the potential to grow the race, "there was no way we were not going to go back and not to look at having a second race," said Arnett.

The US F1 features tunnel boats that can race at over 100 mph and turn on a dime.

A study ordered by Visit Michigan City LaPorte found 76 percent of the people who attended were from LaPorte and surrounding counties.

The remainder of the visitors were from states as close as Michigan and Wisconsin and as far away as Texas and Florida.

The study also found the event produced $122,000 in taxes and $106,000 in wages.

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