Gulfport Grand Prix Powers into Town

Two boats power through the water, aiming to win at the Grand Prix on Saturday. Formula One boats came from both the US and Canada to race.

On June 1, the 2nd annual Gulfport Grand Prix kicked off in downtown Gulfport, bringing three days of colorful power boats, excited viewers and some road closures. The event featured Formula One racing boats from the US and Canada, as well as vendors selling food, drinks, boats and nautical equipment. Racing kicked off each day at noon and ended around 5 p.m. 

Justin Shea, Cultural Events Supervisor for the City of Gulfport, reported some costs for the event as of Wednesday, June 6. For public works labor, the city paid an estimated $8,000. $2,000 were spent on event costs and $6,000 for public works. The city also employed two workers at the Gulfport Casino for race weekend, at the cost of $500. The total estimated $8,500 is paid by the City of Gulfport. 

Separately, the city will invoice the Gulfport Grand Prix for an estimated $2,912 for fire department coverage for the weekend and an estimated $7,195.25 for police. 

Gulfport Grand Prix organizers have not yet responded to requests by the Gabber for numbers on attendance, event costs and the amount that will be donated to the Michael J. Yakes Foundation charity, the event’s beneficiary. 

Drivers strapped inside their boats get ready to race on Saturday, June 2, at the Gulfport Grand Prix.

Downtown on Beach Boulevard, merchants like Jan Farr set up shop during the Grand Prix June 1 through 3. “It’s been mostly sales to the locals,” Farr said, sitting at her table outside the Country Harvest Craft Store. “It’s been comparable to an art walk,” she said of the traffic. Farr is one of several artists with work featured inside the store.

Mark Dillman and Bobbi Flowers stand together watching the race on Saturday from the shaded VIP area on the pier. It was the pair’s first time out to a boating Grand Prix. “It’s been amazing,” said Dillman. “It’s like a new world,” he said. “Very exciting,” said Flowers in agreement. The duo used Uber to get to the event. “My only suggestion is that they make it easier for Uber drivers to get past the road blockage,” said Dillman, noting that he and Flowers had trouble getting their driver through on Beach Blvd and 31st Ave South.

Pit crew workers stay busy working while boats are out racing. One pit crew member shouts to another across the pier.


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