Just had an intriguing chat with Ron Polli, who is working with the Offshore Performance Association—better known as OPA—this season. We touched on three subjects: Television coverage of OPA races sponsored by Geico, the potential inclusion of Powerboat P1 classes in OPA events and the steady growth of OPA. Here’s what Polli had to say.
On television coverage:
“For 2010, the whole point is to get OPA to reach a level where it can take advantage of the TV show with Geico. We have one of the top sponsors in Geico, and sponsors come along when they see other sponsors. We’re trying to help the smaller teams leverage that to get their own sponsors. They can take that TV show coverage, look a sponsor in the eye and ask them for $10,000 or $20,000 with a straight face, because they’ll recoup that in 20 or 30 seconds of exposure on television.
“Last time offshore racing was on television, APBA Offshore had to lay out the money for it. This is different—we now have a sponsor willing to foot the bill for it. There’s no expense to OPA whatsoever. We have a three-year commitment to get this thing off the ground.”
On allowing Powerboat P1 classes in OPA
“Our eyes are open and our ears are open, but we have questions. Right now, we don’t see the value P1 brings to OPA or boat racing in the United States in general. They’re not saying they want to bring their teams over here and race. They want to fly their banner at OPA races and have events here next year. We don’t know enough about the P1 program to give it a final determination.
“The problem is we haven’t been able to see the value in dealing with them. We don’t need anyone’s help to grow. Last year, we had 75 teams and 400 members.”
On the steady growth of OPA
“OPA continues to grow because we keep the fun in racing, while at the same time making it more of a professional motorsport. We’re very conscious about people coming to OPA and creating drama. OSS (Offshore Super Series) has grown up with (team) owners owning the organization, and with that comes a lot of drama. So we’re very conscious about bringing that drama into OPA. And you know, the drama comes from the bigger boats. It’s not the little boats.”