Way back in September 2018 when Mike Shepherd, Tim Hill and his wife, Cyndee, began working on bringing offshore racing back to Fort Myers Beach, Fla., for the first time since 2006, they were looking at hosting the Offshore Powerboat Association’s 2019 National Championships. And with their dates set for October 10-12 for the Fort Myers Beach Roar Offshore event, they still are.
The once-famous venue will pull double-duty in October and the APBA Offshore Championship Series fleet will include Zabo Racing Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
But now they have two concurrent events on the docket. In addition to the OPA Nationals, the Fort Myers Beach event will be final stop of the six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series being produced by OPA and Powerboat P1. Originally, series organizers Ed “Smitty” Smith of OPA and Azam Rangoonwala had targeted Clearwater, Fla., as the last race of the APBA circuit. That changed last week when Clearwater organizer Frank Chivas confirmed that his venue would be part of the Race World Offshore schedule.
So Fort Myers Beach got the nod, and to say everyone involved is thrilled would be putting it mildly. The famed venue was a regular stop for APBA offshore powerboat races in the 1990s and 1980s—it even included an airshow—and it was missed when it finally went dormant in the mid 2000s.