Though offshore powerboat racers and their fans tend to focus on what’s on top of the water in the Florida Keys, there’s a whole lot more going on beneath it. That gave Larry Bleil, the president of Key West, Fla.-based Race World Offshore, an idea for his outfit’s season-opening 7 Mile Grand Prix, April 28-30, in Marathon, Fla.
The last time powerboats raced in Marathon, Fla., was in 2016 and there were a few wild moments on the water. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Why not have the Friday night welcome party for racers and fans at the Aquarium Encounters in the Middle Keys community? Bleil reached out to aquarium management and now the party is set at the venue for that evening from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“We do the same thing at the aquarium in Clearwater (Fla.) when we have our races there and everyone loves it,” Bleil explained. “Aquarium Encounters has come on as an event sponsor and they’ll be opening up the place for our party. It’s open to the public and there’s no charge for admission that night.
“They’ll be serving light food and there will be a no-host bar during the evening,” he added. “It’s a really cool venue with a lot of space, and it’s going to be a blast.”
The 7 Mile Grand Prix is the season-opener for the five-race 2023 American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series. Though it hasn’t hosted an offshore race since 2016 under the Super Boat International umbrella, the venue has a storied history in the sport. For example, multi-time world champion John Tomlinson ran his first race there with Bob Latham in 1986.
“This will be what, my 34th year of racing?” Tomlinson said, then laughed. “I’ll be back in Marathon this year with Taylor Scism in her new (450R Factory Stock-class) raceboat.”
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