Maple City Grand Prix full of high-speed thrills
June 10, 2013 1:34PM
Updated: November 26, 2013 9:34AM
Last week numerous fishing boats, a few kayaks and a stand-up paddle board were quietly moving on Stone Lake in LaPorte. What a difference a week makes.
This week the Maple City Grand Prix will make its debut with boats racing to speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. In addition to three days of racing, the event also offers three days of free public activities.
“These smaller inland lakes are perfect for these kinds of boats,” said Jane Daley of the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The boats are not as big as the super boats on Lake Michigan, but these can turn on a dime and go about as fast. The races are exciting for spectators, and it’s a great way for people to come out and see the parks.”
The Maple City Grand Prix is part of the 2013 Formula 1 Powerboat Tour, with 10 stops across the U.S. and in Canada.
Two classes of boats will compete in LaPorte, Formula One and Formula Lights. Both are “tunnel boats” with hulls designed to trap a cushion of air beneath the boat to reduce drag and increase speed. According to the USF1 Powerboat website, www.usf1powerboat.com/, the 17-foot long Formula One boats have 375 horsepower engines and can hit speeds of 140 mph. The Formula Lights are a smaller, entry class boat that can hit speeds of 75 mph.
A race circuit with multiple turns will be set out on the lake. Each race lasts about 45 minutes, with numerous boats simultaneously maneuvering around the course.
Testing will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, ending with a driver meet-and-greet from 5:30 to 6 p.m., and classic rock in the park from 8 to 11 p.m.
Testing resumes on Saturday at 9 a.m., with time trials beginning after the official opening ceremony at noon. The pits will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Other Saturday events include autograph sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. At 6 p.m. there will be a boat parade through downtown to State and Monroe, followed by a “Downtown Hoedown” at 6:30 p.m. Daley said that admission to the hoedown is $5 for adults and includes a pork sandwich and musical entertainment. The evening concludes with free blues music back at the park.
The pits will reopen on Sunday at 9 a.m., when testing begins. A non-denominational religious service will be in the pit area at 11 a.m. Racing heats kick off at noon, and semifinals are scheduled to start around 2 p.m. The 30-lap final event is scheduled to begin at 4:25 p.m.
“I think families will also enjoy seeing the children’s races,” Dale said. “These boats look like a surfboard with a motor, and are for kids who are starting out in racing.”
These junior hydro and runabouts classes will also have testing and heats on Friday and Saturday. Their finals are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. These races are for kids as young as age 9 to gain experience in racing.
Free parking for the Maple City Grand Prix will be available at the LaPorte County Fairground, 2581 W. State Road 2, and on Truesdell Avenue just east of Highway 35.