Key West Grand Prix
Change of Venue

By Andy Newman
Photo by Margaret Hart

Key West -- A Key West offshore powerboat racing tradition is about to be broken with next Sunday's Key West Grand Prix, the first United States race of the 1996 season for Super Boat Racing (SBR) Inc.

For more than nine years, offshore race courses have incorporated Key West harbor providing exceptional spectator viewing as boats hit speeds approaching 130 mph within a few hundred feet of hotel docks and Mallory Square. The close proximity of spectators to the boats have boosted Key West's reputation as one of the world's premiere racing venues.

But according to SBR president John Carbonell, the Grand Prix will be staged on an 8.6-mile course on the southern side of the island, away from the harbor. Carbonell said that SBR could not negotiate use of the U.S. Navy's Truman Annex base to serve as wet and dry pits. Relocation of the dry pits to Higgs Beach and the wet pits to Oceanside Marina forced a change in the positioning of the race course, Carbonell said.

He added that the best, free vantage point for the Key West Grand Prix would be Smathers Beach along South Roosevelt Boulevard. He expects a field of 40 boats to line up for the 1 p.m. start opposite White Street Pier.

The event is slated for one-hour, tape-delayed television broadcasts on ESPN and a two-hour live broadcast for television outlets in Argentina and Uruguay.

For race information, call SBR at (305) 296-8963 daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For accommodations information, contact the Key West Visitors Bureau, toll-free daily, at 1-800-LAST-KEY.

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