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Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival Expands Racing Format

During a press conference yesterday, organizers of the renamed 2015 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival—formerly the Sarasota Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix—in Florida announced the event will feature two full days of powerboat racing on July 4-5 off Lido Beach with televised coverage on CBS Sports Network. In prior years, the event had featured one day of offshore powerboat racing.

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On hand for yesterday’s press conference (from left) were: Nicole Rissler (director-Sports-Sarasota County Sports Commission), Azam Rangoonwala (director-Powerboat P1 USA), Lucy Nicandri (Festival Director & executive director of Suncoast Charities for Children), Steve Curtis (Interim president-Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix), Julie Brown (Festival chairperson and board member of Suncoast Charities for Children) and Jason Miller (general manager-Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix). Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

In a press release from the event organizers, Jason Miller, the general manager for the new Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix series, announced that Green Light Media will be filming for CBS Sports Network for the entire race series, and that the Sarasota race will be aired during prime time the following weekend after the Sarasota race.

An official roster of offshore racing teams committed to the event was not announced during the press conference. According to Lucy Nicandri, the director for the Sarasota event, several teams have signed contracts to compete and more than a dozen others have made “verbal commitments” to participate. (On hand for the press conference were noted Sarasota-based offshore racer Ryan Beckley of DoublEdge Motorsports, Billy Glueck of Twisted Metal Motorsports and others.)

Azam Rangoonwala, the director of P1 USA, also announced that the second round of the SuperStock Championships and AquaX Series will take place that same weekend off Lido Beach featuring P1’s fleet of eight outboard-powered V-bottom powerboats and more 40 personal watercraft. These races will be regionally televised by Fox Sun Sports and nationally on MAV TV.

Several classes will run simultaneously on each day and will be covered in a livestream broadcast, according to the release. New for 2015 is an expanded VIP area on Lido Beach, which also will host the awards ceremony. Fans will have an opportunity to meet the racers and view the raceboats and watercraft on Friday, July 3, before the Festival Parade of Boats and expanded Downtown Block Party.

“Suncoast Charities for Children produces the Grand Prix Festival, which last year yielded a 26-million-dollar economic impact and over 15,900 room nights,” Nicandri said in the release. “With inclusion of televised coverage showcasing this year’s festival and Sarasota around the world, we hope to boost that economic impact number even higher this year while at the same time provide a net increase of money raised for the charity that serves local special needs children, teens and adults in the Sarasota area.

“We are extremely grateful to our Sarasota County, Sarasota County Sports Commission and The Florida Sports Foundation as our presenting sponsors, as well as OPGP sponsor GAC Pindar, for this year,” she added. “But our fundraising efforts continue with $120,000 more to raise in sponsorship to cover necessary expenses related to the festival.”

Editor’s note: Pete Boden is the official photographer for the Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix.

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