In April, St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman announced that his city was chosen as the venue to host, yet another, event. P1 Motorsport Races is hosting the St. Pete Powerboat Grand Prix during Labor Day weekend.
It’s been five years in the making. Don’t let the words “Grand Prix” throw you. The race has nothing to do with cars and everything to do with boats.
International marine motorsport promoter Powerboat P1 (based in London with an office in Orlando) announced plans to host the St. Pete Powerboat Grand Prix September 4-5. Powerboat and personal watercraft race teams from across the United States will compete across multiple classes of racing during the race weekend.
Primarily involved with powerboat and personal watercraft racing, P1 is an international sports promoter, founded in 2002. Since then, the company has staged more than 600 races, in 18 countries, on four continents, to become a leading marine motorsport brand. P1 delivers high-caliber events that generate significant levels of inward economic investment at host venues, together with the commercial platform created for sponsors, partners and the wider marine industry.
“We began discussions for a national race event, featuring a double bill of P1 powerboat racing and AquaX jet ski action in 2015, with plans to stage the two-day event near the iconic, and brand new, St. Pete Pier,” says P1 CEO Azam Rangoonwala. “AquaX includes both professional and amateur classes of racing, which attracts riders from across the country.”
September’s event is part of the eight-venue APBA national race series, which runs from May to October.
St. Pete/Clearwater is the presenting sponsor of this new event. A custom-designed Visit St. Pete/Clearwater powerboat will compete in the APBA Offshore Championship races, with leading personal watercraft rider Tory Snyder racing on a VSPC painted jet ski.
“We are thrilled to bring P1 Offshore and P1 AquaX racing to the St. Pete Pier for the Labor Day weekend. We’re extremely pleased with the partnership with Powerboat P1 over the past several years and look forward to building the St. Pete race weekend as a signature event for our community,” said Tim Ramsberger, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater chief operating officer.
While the race is best viewed live along the course, near downtown St. Petersburg and the Pier, the high-speed racing action will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network and also on Bally Sports Regional Networks. Fans outside of the U.S. will be able to enjoy the racing via live streaming on the P1 Offshore Facebook page. Teams from across the U.S. will compete in high-speed races during the two-day series including the 12-time world champion, Miss Geico Racing Team.
Q&A with the CEO: Azam Rangoonwala
Where are you based?
I currently live in London, United Kingdom, after having spent seven years living in Orlando building the Powerboat P1 USA business. Prior to that I was in Greenville, North Carolina, where I was working closely with Fountain Powerboats with whom P1 was working with on the manufacturing of our P1 Panther race boats. I moved back to the UK to P1’s international headquarters, here in central London, because I took over the role of CEO in 2017. When COVID restrictions allow, I will be making regular trips to the USA for our national series of Powerboat and AquaX racing.
What made P1 choose St Pete?
P1 has always been looking at St. Pete as a venue for an Offshore Powerboat and AquaX race, because its facilities lend themselves to our event planning, both operationally as well as from a spectator viewpoint. Downtown St. Pete is also a great backdrop, as well as a premium destination. P1 staged racing in St. Pete Beach from 2017 to 2019, at which point the new Pier was set to open soon. At this time P1 made an effort to revisit racing right off the superb new Pier. P1 has partnered with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater since 2017, who have not only been the presenting sponsor of the events but have also sponsored a powerboat and AquaX riders who compete throughout the P1 national championships providing VSPC exposure across all of our race events. P1’s events are designed to showcase the host venue through its national, and international, television coverage which spans across over 100 countries.
How many boats do you expect to participate?
We expect between 50 and 60 Offshore Powerboats, together with 60 AquaX (personal watercraft: also known as JetSkis, Waverunners and Seadoo).
Where will the boats come from?
At this time the powerboat teams are coming predominantly from the U.S. due to COVID restrictions preventing international teams from traveling. P1 hopes to stage this event for many years to come at which time, we will have teams all the way from Australia, United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.
Ticket information, VIP packages, racecourse maps and an event schedule will appear on the P1 website: www.p1offshore.com.