Throughout the endless changes in offshore racing during the past 34 years, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in Southwest Florida has remained one of offshore racing’s most treasured events. And despite that the 2019 event is third stop on the upwardly mobile six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series being produced by the Offshore Powerboat Association and the Powerboat P1 organization, the success of the July 4 holiday week race has nothing to do with the sanctioning body, racing circuit or—at least in terms of its meaning to the Sarasota community—what happens on the racecourse.
Beloved by competitors and fans, local racer Steve Kildahl has never missed a Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix and the week of activities leading up to it—the entire event is called the Sarasota Grand Prix Festival—is all about raising money for Suncoast Charities For Children, the event’s longstanding charity. And when the event sees its 35th annual running next month, it will still be all about fundraising for Suncoast Charities For Children.
There is one other constant to the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix—local offshore racer Steve Kildahl. The 62-year-old veteran throttleman and owner of Central Marine Service of Sarasota has competed in every race of the event’s 34-year history. And 12 years ago, he began sharing the cockpit of Boatfloater.com/Scott Free Racing, a 30-foot canopied Extreme V-bottom that is competing this season in the APBA series’ Super Vee Extreme class, with his son, Stephen.
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