By Jim Bloch
Get the kids out of the water and pack an extra pair of ear plugs. About 60 offshore boat racing teams are pulling into St. Clair for Blue Water Offshore Racing Association’s 28th annual St. Clair River Classic.
The dates are Thursday-Sunday, July 28-31.
“We’re good to go,” said Bob Currier, secretary-treasurer of BWORA; he is also race director of the event, in charge of everything waterside.
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BWORA and the New Jersey-based Offshore Powerboat Association are producing the race, which is the fourth of eight races in the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series.
“There will be a number of new teams this year,” Currier said. “That’s always exciting.”
The race teams will be arrayed along M-29, which closes Wednesday, July 27 at 6 p.m. and transforms into Race Village. Fans may view the boats and chat with the drivers and teams beginning Thursday. Vendors will be selling snacks and race paraphernalia all weekend.
The teams will test their rigs on the St. Clair River on Saturday, 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Sunday is race day.
“We’ll start racing at noon,” said Currier.
Organizers are scheduling four heats: Noon, 1:30, 3 and 4:30 p.m.
Admission is free. The prime viewing spots are from the city’s riverside Palmer Park.
“We’re hoping to have a few of the larger boats,” said Currier, who was anticipating the appearance of the new JBS Racing team. “They’re doing well this year.”
In the Super-Cat class, look for M-Conn team and Graydel, the Canadian team that was not able to race in the U.S. last because of the closure of the border due to the pandemic. Graydel finished sixth at Cocoa Beach FL in May.
Local racer Ed Smith will drive with New Jersey native Anthony Smith in the Knucklehead boat, racing in the Vee Extreme class.
“They’ve been doing well this year,” said Currier.
The first three races in the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series were held in Lake of the Ozarks MO, June 4; Pleasant Beach NJ, June 12; and Eastlake OH, July 10. and Sarasota, July 2-3.
The Knucklehead team ran first in Vee Extreme in each race.
The award ceremony will be held in the plaza courtyard at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Following St. Clair, races are scheduled in Michigan City, IN, Aug. 6-7; Ocean City, MD, Aug. 21; Morehead City NC, Sept. 11; FL, Sept. 3-4; Fort Meyer Beach FL, Oct. 8; and Englewood Beach FL, Nov. 20.
Chamber steps in
Last year, BWORA parted ways with FunFest Events, the longtime cosponsor of the event, in charge of the music and vending.
The St. Clair Chamber of Commerce stepped into the void. The chamber organizes the vending in Race Village and the BWORA piggybacks the chamber’s ambitious slate of live local music in the plaza courtyard, now in its third summer.
“They were a godsend for us,” said Currier. “We were extremely pleased and the chamber was extremely pleased.”
On Friday, Paul & Oates play 6-9 p.m. in the plaza followed by The Gobies, 9 p.m.-midnight.
On Saturday, look for the Meldrum Brothers in the plaza 2-5 p.m., Dusk til Dawn 5-7 p.m.
On Sunday, Alter Ego performs 2-6 p.m. Alter Gringo plays 7-11 p.m.
Currier said the atmosphere downtown, especially after dark, is more family friendly now that the chamber is involved.
Magna International, the Canadian based mobility tech company, with its new plant in the St. Clair industrial park, is the title sponsor for the second straight year.
“Partnerships with the local community are critical to the continued success of our event, as we have re-shaped how the event looks and is produced,” said Steve Brunner, the president of the BWORA, told Speed on the Water.com. “We are extremely excited about this continued partnership with Magna.”
After the 2021 race, BWORA found itself in the financial position to make grants to a number of local organizations, including the International Shipmasters Scholarship Fund; St Vincent de Paul on behalf of Cargill Salt (family Christmas support); St. Clair Police Foundation, Donald R. Barnum Scholarship Fund: St. Clair Chamber of Commerce, local events support: Lelito Legacy Foundation and the St. Clair County Dive Team Auxiliary.
As BWORA put it on its Face Book page: “Locals working with locals. That’s what it’s all about.”
In addition to Magna, this year’s sponsors are Cargill Salt, safety sponsor; Motor City Electric, safety sponsor; Raymond Cranes, crane sponsor; DTE Foundation; Lafontaine GMC; Biewer Lumber; city of St. Clair; Sunsation Powerboats; Coughlin Jewelers; Voyageur; Waste Management; Westhaven Builders; Towbook; Drifters; Pepper Joe’s; Lacroix’s Riverside Pub; War Water; Murphy Inn; River’s Bend Marina; Steve’s Painting; Stahlman Motorsports; CTV-Channel 6; Boat Michigan; E2 Security; and Thorpe Printing.
Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.