The 13th Annual Award-Winning Great Lakes Grand Prix, featuring some of the world’s fastest and most exciting powerboat racing, will be back August 3-7 at Michigan City’s Washington Park, it was announced earlier this week by Jack L. Arnett, CEO of the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The event will again present teams from all seven continents racing across the waters of Lake Michigan in some of the world’s fastest powerboats, reaching speeds nearing 175 miles per hour. Along with the boat races, Arnett announced other weekend highlights – the downtown Boat Parade and Block Party on Saturday night and the Taste of Michigan City on both Friday and Saturday. Throughout the weekend, guests enjoy walking through Washington Park and chatting with owners, racers, and team members. Live entertainment, food and souvenir vendors, and family activities add to the fun.
The races are a stop on the Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA) annual race circuit, in which powerboat crews fight for national and world championships. In addition to the OPA’s involvement, Arnett also announced a new sponsor. “We are especially happy to announce Play Tradez as our 2022 Title Sponsor,” Arnett said. Play Tradez is a New York-based trading company that shares their algorithmic formulas and trading strategies with their subscribers through their registered investment advisors, he added.
“Bringing Play Tradez on board adds a new level of exposure for the race and certainly gives Play Tradez the ability to extend their brand across the country, as our race continues to lead the circuit in popularity,” Arnett said.
Organizers are gearing up for a full schedule in addition to the races and parade that includes Washington Park beach parties with live music, a vintage car show, a bags tournament, and a golf outing. Guests are encouraged to take advantage of free parking on Saturday and Sunday at Ames Field, 2501 Franklin St. with shuttle service provided. Overflow parking will be available at 1501 Wabash St. (the former St. Anthony Hospital parking lot). Several VIP events, including an opening party at Sunset Grille on Thursday and brunch Saturday and Sunday at the VIP tent on the Washington Park Boardwalk are planned. VIP tickets are in high demand, Arnett said, so extra tickets have been added.
Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry expressed enthusiasm about the annual event, saying, “The Great Lakes Grand Prix is such an important part of our special events calendar. Our community embraces our offshore powerboat friends, and I personally enjoy visiting with all the teams.”
“We celebrate the positive impact this event has on our local economy.” Parry added.
A report released by the CVB shows that the Grand Prix definitely continues to be an economic boom to Michigan City, with last year’s event setting a new record for both attendance and earnings. Out-of-town visitors contributed nearly $17.7 million to LaPorte County’s economy in 2021, compared to $13.6 million for the 2019 event, according to the report, prepared for the LaPorte County CVB by Certec Inc., a marketing analysis group based in Lexington, Kentucky. (The Grand Prix was not held in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.) In addition, local residents spent a total of $675,164 at the event.
Out-of-town visitors came from 12 different states, with about one-third visiting for the first time. Their spending generated $46 million in tax revenues, with $915,300 of that going to local government. Jobs generated by the Grand Prix provided more than $3.9 million in wages to LaPorte County workers. Food, beverage, shopping, and transportation accounted for 75 percent of expenditures.
Total attendance during the four-day celebration reached 249,400, easily topping the 2019 attendance of 190,000. Park attendance was 80,000 on Saturday and 90,000 on Sunday. The Taste of Michigan City drew a total of 30,000 visitors.
The report notes that tourism is a key component of the LaPorte County economy, and visitors to the Grand Prix took advantage of their time here by visiting destinations such as the Blue Chip Casino Hotel & Spa, the Washington Park Zoo, wineries, breweries, museums, and beaches.
The CVB also noted that the Michigan City AquaX Grand Prix jet ski races will take place July 9-10 at Washington Park. The LaPorte LakeFest AquaX Grand Prix jet ski races will be held July 30-July 31.
For more information on the Aug. 3-7 Grand Prix, schedules, and shuttle service, as well as the Michigan City AquaX Grand Prix and LaPorte LakeFest AquaX Grand Prix, go to www.GreatLakesGrandPrix.com.
VIP tickets for the Grand Prix may be purchased by going to www.eventbrite.com/great-lakes-grand-prix-tickets.