Organizers look to bring powerboat race to Fort Myers Beach

Exhilarating boat competition is speeding back to Southwest Florida.

Powerboat racing is coming back to Fort Myers Beach after a 13-year break.

The spectacle is expected to bring in more money and a lot more visitors. Organizers expect upwards of 60 to 70,000 people and for those who have experienced previous powerboat races here on Fort Myers Beach, they agree it’s going to be a big draw.

Jason Unger remembers the roar of the engines and when the powerboat racing on Fort Myers Beach was the talk of the town.

“My uncle used to take me to the dry docks when the boats came into town all the time up at the stadium,” said Unger, co-owner of The Dog House on FMB. “And that was always a huge party.”

It’s making a comeback in 2019. The Roar Offshore event plan to bring the boats back on the water in October for their national championship. The organizers presented the idea to the Fort Myers Beach Town Council last week in hoped of receiving their blessing.

“Everybody that we’ve been talking to is nothing but positive and asked what’s taking so long to bring the races back to Fort Myers Beach,” said Tim Hill, an organizer for the event.

From the shoreline to the hotel rooms and more, the race is expected to bring in an estimated $7 million. Other cities that host similar races have also seen big dollar signs.

“Several of the other races including Sarasota have seen a tremendous economic impact for the area in times that typically are slower in the state of Florida,” Hill said. “Sarasota for example they currently have an impact of 10 to $15 million that they bring in to the area.”

Unger looks forward to the business boost at a normally slower time of year.

“We all hear about these things going away so to have something this big coming back is definitely huge for anybody here in business as well as island residents,” Unger said. “It’s part of the party.”

The next step for the organizers is permitting to host a boat parade and other festivities on Fort Myers Beach. Organizers said 65 powerboat teams look forward to this October.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
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