maple city grand prix says goodbye

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 16:04 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Tunnel boats racing at more than 100 miles per hour is now a thing of the past in LaPorte.

The Maple City Grand Prix has been dropped after a five-year run at Stone Lake.

Thaddeus Cutler, one of the coordinators of the race, said support was still good for the downtown boat parade and block party leading up to the race but interest in the actual racing had diminished.

Attendance never approached the strong turnout for the inaugural race.

''It's unfortunate it can't come back but when you look at all of the numbers and the lack of attendance, it just didn't make sense any more,'' Cutler said.

Cutler said the goal now is to replace the race with an event that showcases the city's lakes, downtown and parks as the Grand Prix did

A special committee has been assigned the task of coming up with a replacement.

''What we need to do is find that perfect fit for LaPorte. I don't personally know what that is but I know the committee that's being formed has a lot of really smart people with a vested interest in LaPorte. I'm sure they're going to come up with something really cool,'' said Cutler.

Cutler speculated unusually cool and rainy weather some years and curiosity being satisfied by the first race had something to do with dwindling turnout.

The weather was more summer-like this year, but yet just a few hundred people showed up.

''We live in an age right now where everything is coming at us so fast that maybe after that first year enough of the community saw it and went I want to see something new and something different,'' said Cutler, who's LaPorte's downtown director.

Originally, the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau played the lead role in hosting the race but turned things over more to Cutler and other city staff members because of financial losses as high as $90,000 from the event.

More sponsors were secured and expenses scaled back this year to at least try and break even.

The grand prix featured racers from as far away as Canada who compete in the USF1 Powerboat Circuit.

''There's something out there that's the right fit for LaPorte. We just need to sit down, talk about it, figure it out and find out what that is,'' said Cutler.