The course has been set for the seventh annual Marathon Superboat Grand Prix, scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 17, as the highlight of a race weekend that begins Friday, May 15.
The race is to take place in the waters around Marathon. Starting on the gulf side of the famed Seven Mile Bridge, boats are to race under the historic bridge on the north side of Pigeon Key to the riskier ocean side, make two left turns, then run back under the bridges at speeds in excess of 150 mph.
A right turn sends the high-speed boats thundering past the shoreline and grandstands. The racers then must negotiate a tight 180-degree turn to run the long straightaway in front of fans back to the starting point. Another sharp left turn begins the route all over again.
The course measures approximately six miles.
"The uniqueness of Marathon is to get through those bridges," said John Carbonell, president of Super Boat International Productions. "The optical illusion when drivers are far away is you don’t have very much space, but once you get there it’s a lot of room."
Up to 14 different classes of boats are expected to race, including Superboat Unlimited, Superboat Vee Unlimited, Superboat 750 and 850, Turbine, Super Cat, Super Vee, Superboat Vee Limited, Superboat Stock and Manufacturer Production classes one through five.
The race village is to be set up at the City of Marathon event field, mile marker 52 oceanside across from the Marathon Airport. Dry pits are to be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, May 15-17. There is no charge for admission to the race village.
Shoreline viewing areas for the races are planned for the bayside entrance below the Old Seven Mile Bridge, with front-row viewing from Chappy’s Steak & Seafood on Knight’s Key from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Chappy’s is to host an awards ceremony set to begin at 4 p.m.
To find out about area accommodations, call the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce at 305-743-5417 or 800-262-7284, e-mail [email protected], or visit the Florida Keys & Key West Web site at www.fla-keys.com.