With a pair of late-season Florida races—Clearwater September 25-27 and Key West November 8-15—on its schedule, Race World Offshore has time on its side as COVID-19 restrictions gradually ease. Unfortunately, the outfit’s Dunkirk, N.Y., event set for July 10-12 likely will fall off the RWO schedule, as according to Larry Bleil the city on the shores of Lake Erie has already cancelled two happenings in roughly the same timeframe.
In addition to teams from the Supercat and Super Stock ranks, Bleil believes the 2020 RWO Key West Championships will have a much stronger contingent of Production-class boats. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
“I meet with the people in Dunkirk on June 20 but I doubt it’s going to happen,” said Bleil.
Though disappointed at the prospect of cancelling an event that has struggled to gain traction in the two years RWO has produced it, Bleil said he is excited about the Clearwater and Key West contests. His phone “has been ringing off the hook” with inquiries from racers, and notably from Production-class teams. Those were in relatively short supply for RWO’s 2019 Clearwater and Key West races.
“Any APBA class can race at any of our events,” said Bleil. “We have tons of interest this year, not just from the Supercat and Super Stock classes that have already committed to coming, but from the Production classes as well. Teams are calling every day and asking if Clearwater and Key West are happening. Frank Chivas (the Clearwater event’s lead promoter) is completely behind having that race and so are the fans in Clearwater, just as we are in Key West. We’re full speed ahead for both events. I am not worried at all.”
According to Bleil and other sources in Key West, the Florida Keys should be open to non-residents in early to mid-June. Social-distancing requirements will have months to be adjusted before the early November event.
“I think Key West is going to be crazy,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of pent-up demand for offshore racing. That said, I think some teams will wait to register. That’s just the way it is this season. But I was talking to Stu Jones of the Florida Powerboat Club and he was saying the same thing. He thinks we could have even more Key West poker-run boats this year than we had last year.”
Bleil paused, then chuckled. “I just don’t know where they’re going to put all of them,” he said.
A second-year event for Race World Offshore, Clearwater is looking to have a strong turnout as a late-season contest.