Stormy weather clears for Great Lakes Grand Prix

Out of the blue

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot The Octane boat (No. 4, at left) goes airborne Sunday during the second annual Great Lakes Grand Prix in Dunkirk.

In the face of poor weather to start the day on Saturday, the weekend managed to finish on a bright note. Sunday afternoon was bright and sunny making for a great finish to the second annual Great Lakes Grand Prix in Dunkirk. After Sunday’s competition, the racers and fans gathered in Memorial Park for the award ceremony and Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas delivered a proclamation that August 18th would be Larry Bleil Day in Dunkirk. Mayor Rosas thanked Bleil — the CEO of Race World Offshore — for bringing an event of this magnitude to Dunkirk and helping bring both national and international attention to the city.

“This is not an easy event to put on,” stated Mayor Rosas. “We did it. We did it for two years in a row. It was a successful event both years and I would like to thank all the participants, all the racers, and again Race World Offshore Racing here for coming to Dunkirk.”

The pier was the place to be on Sunday afternoon in Dunkirk, as everyone gathered to watch the second annual Great Lakes Offshore Grand Prix. Those who came out did not leave disappointed as they saw non-stop action on the water along with a thrill-seeking performance in the sky.

The day was just about perfect for everyone, except the Cleveland Construction boat. In the first heat, Cleveland Construction was the frontrunner, leading for almost every second of the race — aside from a mid-race push by eventual third place finisher the 404 Simmonsmarine.com boat.

In that first heat, Cleveland Construction made the five lap, 2.5 mile course around Dunkirk’s harbor look like a piece of cake. However, the battle for second place was much more tightly contested as the No. 8 boat the Developer/Wix Filters sped past Simmonsmarine.com on the final turn of the fifth and final lap, giving them a second place finish.

OBSERVER Photo by Christian Storms The Cleveland Construction boat navigates the course near Wright Park in Dunkirk Sunday.

“First race, kind of feeling out the water a little bit,” said Scott Brown of the Developer/Wix Filters No. 8 boat. “Try and work the boat and get the boat settled for the conditions. We wanted to make sure we raced hard and put on a good show for the citizens of Dunkirk, especially the kids.”

After the first race, the competing boats went to check if there was anything wrong with their boats and refueled for the final race. While the intermission was going on, fans were treated to another air show featuring the Wingwalker Carol Pilon.

“Had a little gremlin that popped up on us after the first race,” stated Brown. “But we were able to chase it down and get it running before the second race.”

The second and final race started similar to the first one, Cleveland Construction jumped out to a very strong lead and looked poised to take home the overall crown. Unfortunately, the Cleveland Construction boat which appeared to be a crowd favorite ran into some mechanical issues that led to them falling all the way into last place.

With Cleveland Construction facing mechanical issues, it was the No. 8 boat the Developer/Wix Filters time to shine as they cruised to a first place finish. The winning crew of Scott Brown and JP Larkin completed the course with a time of 11:36.00.

“The second race we pretty much just went out there and let it all hang out.,” stated Brown. ”

The No. 404 boat Simmonsmarine.com improved their placing and took second in the final race.

Despite the poor weather on Saturday, Mother Nature had other plans for Sunday as it was a perfect sunny day and helped make second annual Great Lakes Grand Prix a big hit.

“The people here in Dunkirk, the families, the kids are everywhere… that’s what the sports about,” Brown added about what he liked about competing in Dunkirk for the first time at the Great Lakes Grand Prix. “For us it’s a lifestyle. We travel a lot. We want to race safe, but we want to put on a good show for the kids. There are future racers out there and we’re not going to be out there forever, so anytime we can accomodate kids — take them out, put them out on the boat, take pictures — we’re all about it.”