Hosting the first stop in the new six-race American Power Boat Association Championship Series being produced by the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1, the organizers of the 10th annual Thunder On Cocoa Beach Space Coast Grand Prix May 17-19 are at once committed to making a great impression and confident that they can. That’s the word from Kerry Bartlett, the Florida event’s executive director, who has overseen all aspects of the happening for the past nine years.
The Space Coast Grand Prix in Cocoa Beach, Fla., will be the first race of the APBA Offshore National Championship Series. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“I’ve done this nine times before so I’m not worried, but there definitely is more excitement in the air this year than there has ever been,” he said. “With the formation of the new series, it’s been an active off-season with a lot of new teams and an international flavor coming our way. There are a lot of changes and a lot to look forward to.”
Among those changes are a new racecourse. Bartlett and company have requested a 1.2-mile course extension, which will bring the course all the way to the Minuteman Causeway, from the United States Coast Guard. (Minuteman Causeway is home-base for the event’s Friday night street party and raceboat exhibit). Working closely with Miss GEICO’s Steve Curtis, race director Kevin Pruett also has added a couple of dogleg sections to the course, according to Bartlett.
The event kicks off Thursday night with its V.I.P. party—and single- or multi-day V.I.P. passes for access to several special viewing areas and more are available for purchase through the event’s website—and Java and Juice. On Friday afternoon, the street festival begins.
“We submitted a request to the Florida Department of Transportation to allow us to close route A1A from Second Street to the Minuteman Causeway,” said Bartlett. “So we can almost double the size of the Friday night street party.”
While most teams will be testing on Saturday, there will be several activities for fans including radio-controlled boat races, where children can take on their offshore racing heroes, team meet-and-greets in the dry pits and live music. Saturday night features yet another party.
“Certainly, we want this year’s event to be our best so far,” said Bartlett. “But I’m confident everything will go smoothly. Working with OPA and P1 to set up everything has been a real pleasure, as has watching them work together to make everything jell. It’s all been really smooth.”