High-speed boat race proposed for Grand Traverse Bay

May 3, 2017

Organizers of the Grand Traverse Bay Offshore Classic plan to block off a five-mile stretch of the bay near Traverse City.

West Grand Traverse Bay could host a high-speed boat race next summer. Organizers with the American Power Boat Association and the Offshore Powerboat Association want to hold the “Grand Traverse Bay Offshore Classic” in Traverse City for three days in August 2018.

A five-mile section of the bay would be closed off along Traverse City beaches while power boats race at speeds up to 120 miles per hour.

The city Parks and Recreation Commission will discuss the proposal at its meeting Thursday night. Commissioner Sabrina Newton thinks it’s a bad idea.

“They’re going to be closing the bay, so nobody would actually be able to access the water from the marina," says Newton. "Any boaters won’t be able to access it for four hours for three days, and I think that is just completely wrong.”

Newton is also concerned about noise pollution.

Race organizers did not respond to a request for comment in time for this story. They say the free event would draw up to 100,000 spectators and coverage on national television. There would be no alcohol allowed along beaches during the event.

Organizers promise to pay the city back for all costs associated with the race.

The Traverse City Commission will have the final say on whether to approve the event. The commission is scheduled to discuss the matter at its May 15 meeting.