Economic impact on county is highlighted

Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix visitors increase when Music Festival ends

Powerboats make their way out to the Gulf of Mexico
The Grand Prix Festival returns starting Saturday.

While the Sarasota Music Festival wraps up Saturday with the world premiere of Luminous Bodies, a commissioned chamber event by yMusic, the next festival begins to kick off, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix. Thousands will have traveled to Sarasota to attend either event as the hotels empty, then fill again for the Grand Prix with its many events June 23 to July 4.

The first event for the Grand Prix is the Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic, Saturday with an 8:30 AM start at The Meadows Country Club in Sarasota. Now in its third year, this memorial to the one-time owner of Bob Rizi Plumbing, he supported Sarasota non-profits and was on the board of Suncoast Charities for Children. His chairmanship of the Grand Prix Golf Classic were his ties to the Grand Prix and the golf tournament. He died in June of 2016.

On Sunday from 10 AM to 3 PM, automobile aficionados will want to attend the Car Show at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. On the grounds will be live music and food vendors. Trophies will be awarded in different categories of automobiles, enter your car for $20 at the gate. Admission is $5 each and free to children under 12. Among the other events, there will be a super duty truck display and a ride-in motorcycle show.

Also on Sunday boat owners can get involved in the Boat and Personal Watercraft Fun Run. Following registration at Marina Jack at 10 AM, the shotgun poker run start at 11 AM has a course of the Seafood Shack, The Old Salty Dog and The Bridge Tender on Bradenton Beach. The best poker hand wins $300, while second best wins $200 and third best wins $100. Your $20 entry fee includes lunch at Marina Jack and an event T-shirt.

Comedian Ron Feingold from Orlando performs next Wednesday at McCurdy’s Comedy Club in downtown Sarasota. He blends one-man A Cappella songs with his comedy for an entertaining performance. He has an extensive travel circuit of casinos, colleges and comedy clubs. A welcome reception for Ron at the Grand Prix Comedy Night starts at 5:30 PM, followed by the show at 7 PM.

The Friendliest Catch Fishing Tournament is also next Wednesday at the Sarasota Outboard Club. This is limited as a private event for clients of Suncoast Charities for Children agencies. Proceeds from many of the Grand Prix events go to support this charity organization.

Kettle of Fish, a popular local band classic rock and their own music, will perform at the Grand Prix Kickoff Party June 28 in the grand foyer of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Island casual dress for this event starting at 6 PM. Your $150 admission buys an evening of music, open bar, 50/50 raffle and silent auction. Mattison’s Bayside will have food stations throughout the venue. Purchase tickets through the Grand Prix website.

Meet and get autographs of the boat drivers next Friday at the Meet & Greet, Who’s in the Driver’s Seat event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel ballroom from 2 to 3:30 PM. Admission is a $5 donation for adults, 18 and under will be let in for free. This is the time to meet the racers who have traveled from around the world to participate in the Grand Prix. Get selfies of team pilots who will be autographing hero cards and giving out special gifts during this family event.

Miss Geico team in 2014
The popular Geico team returns as a superstock panther race team June 30 and July 1

Following the Meet & Greet there will be a Boats by the Bay free open party starting at 6 PM. This event was moved from Main Street (Boats on Main) in Sarasota to the Van Wezel parking lot this year. One of the most popular events during this party is the annual Miss Powerboat P1 Swimwear contest. First place winner receives $1,000, followed by second place at $750 and third at $500. The contest is limited to the first 20 to sign up and contestants must not include any indecent gestures for this family-oriented event.

Saturday, June 30, is the best day for race fans with a few events geared for spectators and motorcycle riders. Racing for superstock, production class & personal watercraft begins at 8:30 AM with the first heat for the AquaX class boats. Free live action viewing is best from the Lido Beach area. For motorcyclists, the annual Coastal Cruise Motorcycle Charity Ride is Saturday, starting at 9:30 PM in the Rossiter’s Harley Davidson parking lot. The route is out to Longboat Key and then back to the Finz Find tent at the Fan Fest party. Cash prizes are $300, $150 and $50 while one winner will receive a pair of tickets to the VIP viewing area Sunday on Lido Beach. The Fan Fest heats up at 10 AM, while the boats are in final preparation for racing in the Van Wezel parking lot.

Watch live streaming of races in the Van Wezel parking lot as Fan Fest continues on Sunday at 10 AM. The sold out VIP option at the Sandcastle Resort on Lido Beach has a special shuttle arranged for VIP ticket holders. The racing schedule resumes with the third heat of the AquaX class PWCs at 8:30 AM. There is a full day of racing that also concludes superstocks, super vees and super cats. You can view the full race schedule here or below, subject to change. Drivers will receive their awards beginning at 5:30 PM during Fan Fest.

The AquaX platforms are personal watercraft classes that are either enduro or sprint, with further divisions of amateur or pro. The enduro runs are two miles in length while sprints are typically limited to an eighth of a mile. Two-person teams of pilot and throttleman race in the powerboat platforms of stock, vee and cats. Generally limited to 50 feet in length, these boats can travel up to 200 mph. Hulls shaped as a V compete in the vee class while two-hulled boats compete in the Catamaran, or cat division.

Grand Prix Fireworks on Wednesday

The Sarasota Grand Prix officially comes to a close with the Spectacular Bayfront fireworks display on Wednesday. The Sarasota skies will be lit up with viewing throughout downtown Sarasota. Check the schedule of rooftop bars, but lawn chair viewing is also wonderful at Island and Bayfront parks. Boaters can anchor at a safe distance in the bay.

There is a great economic impact the Grand Prix has on the area. Last year the event attracted nearly 11,000 out-of-state and 36,000 in-state visitors to Sarasota to view the races. Add to that an additional 2,161 international spectators, media, organizers and participants and the amount of money generated is worth the cost of the Grand Prix. The total output was tallied at over $36 million that poured into the local economy. That also brought in $1,381,178 in state sales tax. The county received over a half million dollars in local sales, state reimbursement and hotel taxes. A breakdown is reported here.

2018 Powerboat Festival Schedule at a Glance

Date Event Location Time
June 23 Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic Meadows Country Club 8:30AM
June 24 Car Show Sarasota Fairgrounds 10AM-3PM
June 24 Boat & PWC Fun Run Marina Jack, Sarasota 11AM
June 27 Fishing Tournament (Private) Sarasota Outboard Club 9AM
June 27 Grand Prix Comedy Night McCurdy's Comedy Theatre 5:30PM
June 28 Kickoff Party Van Wezel Parking Lot 6PM-10PM
June 29 Driver’s Autograph Session Hyatt Regency Ballroom 2PM-3:30PM
June 29 Boats by the Bay Party Van Wezel Parking Lot 6PM-11PM
June 29 Miss Powerboat P1 contest Van Wezel Parking Lot 6:30AM-10:30PM
June 30 Motorcycle Charity Ride Rossiter's Harley-Davidson 9:30AM-11AM
June 30 Grand Prix Fan Fest Van Wezel Parking Lot 10AM-6PM
June 30 Grand Prix Races Lido Key beach 8:30AM-5PM
July 1 Grand Prix Fan Fest Van Wezel Parking Lot 10AM-6PM
July 1 VIP viewing (Sold Out) Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach 10AM-4PM
July 1 Grand Prix Races Lido Key beach 8:30AM-4PM
July 1 Race Team Awards Van Wezel Parking Lot 5:30PM
July 4 Fireworks Spectacular Island Park, Sarasota 9PM

Saturday Race Schedule at a Glance

Event Times
AquaX Pro Race 1 8:30AM-9:30AM
Superstock Practice + Race 1,2 9:30AM-10:30AM
P1-3, P4-6 Races 11AM-12:30PM
Official Testing 12:30PM-3:30PM
AquaX Race 2 4PM

Sunday Race Schedule at a Glance

Event Times
AquaX Race 3 8:30AM
P1 Superstock Race 3&4 9:15AM
Super Vee Lite Class Race 10:30AM
Superstock 300 Class Race 12PM
Super Cat Class Race 1:30PM
Unlimited/Super Vee Class Race 3PM
Awards Ceremony 5:30PM

We know that Florida is a great place to relax after working years saving up for retirement. Last week Jacquelyn Pica, contributing writer for U.S. News and World Report and staff writer for the Penny Hoarder, wrote that Sarasota was one of eight best places to retire in the Sunshine State. She was especially kind to the Gulf coast cities in her selections. She cited Sarasota’s culture, museums and beautiful gardens as some of the reasons for her ranking. She also made her ranking based on the modest median home value of $189,400 and population of retirees at 30 percent. In October of last year Sarasota was ranked Number 1 in a U.S. News analysis of 100 potential U.S. retirement cities. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

 

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