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Elk Rapids Out, Would-Be Organizer Still All-In

In February, Michigan’s Matt Soper got the final thumbs-down on an Offshore Powerboat Association race he was spearheading in his hometown of Elk Rapids. The news, with the exception of a few media outlets that carried it, flew mostly below radar. Even a recent online release of the extensive 2021 OPA race schedule still, though inadvertently, included the event.

Matt Soper (third from left) and the rest of the Old School Racing team members are eager to defend their 2020 Offshore Powerboat Association P-4 world championship this season. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

In an interview late last week to clarify the situation, Soper—a passionate offshore racer who earned an OPA P-4 title in a 1988 Cigarette Racing Team 38 Top Gun dubbed Old School—confirmed that the event will not happen.

“It’s a no-go, but it wasn’t for lack of four months of trying,” he said. “We had everything set, even the funding. But the town didn’t want that many people coming for one weekend.

“It’s OK,” he continued. “There are bigger and better things on the horizon pending I’m working on. It was sort of a gift that the race here didn’t go. My energies are already elsewhere in something much bigger.”

Soper, who organized the first Traverse City Invitational Poker Run under the OPA umbrella a few years ago, wouldn’t elaborate on exactly what those things might be.

“I can’t let the cat out of the bag yet, but when it gets pulled off it’s going to be huge—no doubt the story of the year, maybe more,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s gearing up for the second-year American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series, which begins May 20-23, in Cocoa Beach, Fla.

“We’re headed there in about a month for the start of the ‘2021 Clash of the Titans,’” he said. “I believe Nate Hunt will also be there with his Apache. It should be a great Cigarette versus Apache showdown.”

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