Le Mans. Monaco. Daytona Beach. Names of places which are synonymous for racing. But we should also count Michigan City and Northwest Indiana among those greats in the halls of motorsports.
Now in its tenth year, the Great Lakes Grand Prix features some of the world’s fastest and most powerful offshore power boats. Thousands of spectators line up along sandy Washington Park Beach to thrill and cheer as the boats speed along the shoreline at nearly 200 miles per hour.
Featuring more than twenty racing teams, the event is part of the Super Boat International racing schedule. Among this year’s key sponsors for the race were NIPSCO, BIG Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, and Blue Chip Hotel and Casino.
“This is a phenomenal, family event here in Michigan City,” Don Babcock, Director of Economic Development for NIPSCO, said. “We’ve been proud to help sponsor this event here for the last ten years, and we’re looking forward to sponsoring it for ten more. This is the greatest racing spectacle on Lake Michigan, and it’s right here in Michigan City—the Key West of the midwest. We couldn’t ask for a better venue or a better crowd here today.”
“We are proud to be here, proud of our 3,000 employees and very happy to work closely not just with Michigan City, but with all of the towns and communities that we serve. Corporate sponsorship helps make all the difference. NIPSCO serves thirty counties in northern Indiana. We sponsor many events, but this is one of the best and biggest;” Babcock said.
The race also featured Miss Great Lakes Grand Prix, Courtney Mason.
“It was a perfect fit for me,” Mason said. “I had been out West, but I’m very happy to be back in the Midwest for this event. Community is very important to me and Michigan City has a very strong community. Being right on the lake, we have a strong boating community, but we also have so many wonderful small businesses and a strong art community. So, to be here and see the richness of what this area has to offer really means a lot to me. Having the dunes here is really like having your own little paradise, right here in America’s Heartland.”
“This is my first time seeing this event and I would just really like to thank all the sponsors—NIPSCO, BIG Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Top Dog, Blue Chip Casino, and especially the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau,” Mason said.
“This event, last year, was a $10.7 million impact to the community,” said Linda Simmons, Director of Marketing for the LCCVB. “We’re happy to have it back again this year, featuring our beautiful lakefront. We’re happy to welcome so many wonderful vendors here and to showcase all the amazing things that the area has to offer.”
“We also were happy to have the boat parade and Taste of Michigan City here this weekend. Over 40,000 people come down down for those events. This is just an incredible weekend and it just really brings everyone together to showcase this area and all the amazing things that we have here.”
Dozens of vendors staged along the lakefront to offer hungry race fans a variety of delicious food options, from hot dogs to wood-fired pizza slices. Other vendors featured crystals and hand-carved necklaces. Also on hand was event sponsor BIG Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, offering visitors a chance to win prizes ranging from a beach cooler to a big-screen TV and even a new RAM truck.
Scott Clausing is Owner and General Manager for BIG Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.
“We’re happy to be here. We’re happy to be part of this community, so we try to do as much as we can to give back and thank this area for welcoming us,” Clausing said.
Damon Person, 41, from Michigan City appreciated the sense of community at the event.
“It’s great to see so many people come together here to have a good time, enjoy some good food and see some powerboat racing,” Person said.
Frank Zappa made the trip all the way out from Chicago.
“This is my fifth year coming here for this race,” Zappa said. “I like the sun, I like the sand, I like the beach and the sound of the boats. It’s exciting! We’ve seen a couple of boats flipped over here today, but thank goodness no one was hurt.”
“It’s all part of the excitement,” Zappa said. “And I gotta tell you, they do a real good job here, keeping people safe and keeping the beach clean. You don’t see that in a lot of other places. Michigan City is really on top of things here.”