Officials expect a packed beach at Michigan City’s Washington Park on Sunday as Super Boat International rolls into to town for the fifth annual Great Lakes Grand Prix.
This year race showcases the newly aligned series of “Super” boat racing classes that will be competing, some approaching speeds of 150 miles per hour, just off the beach to an estimated 60,000 to 90,000 fans spread along the lakefront.
“We have changed our classes a little bit, combining three of them,” said John Carbonell, Super Boat International founder and president. “We are bringing mostly big boats this year. We’ve put the classes together so that there are good boats duking it out. Fans are going to see a lot of close racing. It’s going to be exciting.”
Five years and this stop on the tour seems to continue to be an enjoyable destination for Super Boat International.
“The teams like coming here,” Carbonell said. “It’s a fun and unique place. Everyone is hospitable and enthusiastic.”
The local economy also likes it when the tour comes to town.
“I’d say it’s the largest event in LaPorte County with the largest crowds and biggest economic impact,” said Jason Miller, race director and sports development manager for the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This event, according to studies, has pumped around $25 million into the local economy the first four years and we see it keeping up that trend this year.”
There is a weekend full of events surrounding the race including the Taste of Michigan City both Friday and Saturday, the boat parade and block party Saturday, and the two races starting at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Fans can look forward to a little bit of extra excitement this year.
“This is our fifth anniversary of the race so we’re trying to do a few special things,” Miller said. “We’re going to kick off the racing on Sunday with a skydiving exhibition by Skydive HorizonZ and a flyover by a local gentleman that owns a classic World War II Vultee Valian BT13A airplane.
“The skydive group will also do jump shows all day on Saturday and a jump on Friday evening. We’re also hosting an EVP beach volleyball tournament at the beach on Saturday in conjunction with the race.”
There is no admission to the race. Parking at Washington Park will be limited. Free off-site parking is offered at Marquette Mall and Lighthouse Place Premium Outlet with free shuttles running from both sites.