Coming on the heels of last week’s announcement that the OPA race in Michigan City, IN, has been pushed back until 2021, races in both St. Clair, MI, and Sarasota, FL, have also been canceled.
Steve Brunner, President of Blue Water Offshore Racing Association in St. Clair, said that “keeping the health and safety of spectators, participants, officials and our community is first and foremost in our
planning efforts.” Bob Currier, Race Control Director in St. Clair, added, “This difficult decision follows guidance for the health and safety of our event from the CDC and Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services. We are looking forward to a vibrant 2021 season.”
Meanwhile, the OPA announced a revised offshore racing schedule designed to salvage the remaining 2020 season and to ensure safe gatherings.
“We’re working with our promoters and officials to help control the groups,” said OPA Spokesman Nick Smith. “Maintaining CDC guidelines, on social distancing and hygiene are important to us as a people, and for our sport to move forward. With that being said, we have six races slated for the 2020 season. We are working tirelessly to provide amazing venues. With so many of our racers champing at the bit to race, we expect fantastic attendance.”
The new race dates are as follows:
Point Pleasant Beach Grand Prix, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ: Aug. 14-16
Thunder on Cocoa Beach, FL: Aug. 28-30
Lake Race, Lake Ozark, MO: September dates pending
Crystal Coast Grand Prix, Morehead City, NC: Sept. 11-13
Roar Offshore, Ft Myers Beach, FL: Oct. 8-11
Englewood Beach Waterfest, Englewood Beach, FL: Nov. 18-22
All dates are, of course, subject to change.
“The city of Point Pleasant has been the home of some of the most notorious races of all time, and we’re elated at the thought of having the whole fleet at the Jersey shore once again,” Smith said. “The timing is impeccable, for a large economic boost at a most needed time.”
Meanwhile, Cocoa Beach—originally one of the six race series events—will host the first race of OPA’s 2020 Florida Triple Crown, an exciting new addition to the season in lieu of the six race series. Ft. Myers will host the second, after boasting a phenomenal first event in 2019. The last stop of the triple crown will be the Saturday event at the Englewood Beach Waterfest National & World Championships. National points will be awarded as usual, and be decided at the first race in Englewood Beach along with the Triple Crown winners.
“Lake Race promoters have been thrown a curveball with the virus, but are certain they’ll be able to provide another great event in September,” Smith said.
Furthering the economic impact after Labor Day, OPA’s newest event—the Crystal Coast Grand Prix in Morehead City, NC—is a promising prospect in the 2020 season. Headed by longtime racer Jeff McCann, it surely will not disappoint. “Though we here at OPA Racing are upset about the series of events that has gotten us to this point, we remain positive about the 2020 season, as we still have so many great race sites, racers, and staff that are all ready to deliver another great year for offshore powerboat racing,” Smith said. “Along with our partners at P1 Offshore, we’re poised to stand and deliver.”
“P1 is in full support of OPA and this series,” said P1 President Azam Rangoonwala. “For obvious reasons, we will not be able to attend all of the events, but we are committed to [Thunder on Cocoa Beach Executive Director] Kerry Bartlett and the team at Cocoa Beach to deliver racing action as well as a full television show to be aired on Fox Sports Florida and CBS Sports Network, and via Livestream. We are working towards Ft. Myers, and anything we can do to help the sport, Smitty, and his team at OPA. Having worked with Smitty for the last year, he always pulls it off, and I am confident and happy to say he will keep the racing going even in these difficult times.”