Miami's downtown grand prix may cruise into weeklong event
By Susan Stabley
The Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority wants to expand its downtown auto race into a weeklong family event by adding a professional bike race and a boating competition.
In October, Raceworks Management brought the thrill of racing to the streets of downtown Miami and next Sept. 26-28 plans to bring back the Grand Prix Americas. The authority loaned Raceworks $2 million for this year's racecourse infrastructure.
"What MSEA wants to do is build it into a week-long act of racing in the city," said Executive Director and CEO Jim Jenkins. "We've now added power boats and a sailing regatta with Sea Scouts. It could become the Miami Cup."
"We've trademarked Race Week Miami and developed a whole logo," he said.
Capt. Ray Hamlin, a paramedic and former Miami firefighter, started a local group of Sea Scouts, Ship 1927, from the Miami Yacht Club five years ago. Sea Scouts are a department of the Boy Scouts of America.
He said he is thrilled that he can partner to bring a sailing regatta to race week. Mr. Hamlin knows Mr. Jenkins from playing Santa Claus for the sports authority's Magical Holidays program at the Miami Arena.
"We've already made plans, contacts and we're lining up sponsors. Word has gotten around," Mr. Hamlin said. "The timing was incredible."
The sailing competition will probably be Sept. 20-21, he said. Mr. Hamlin said his scouts are 14 to 21 years old and the race will be open to scouts, including Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Mr. Jenkins said the sailing race could be at Miami's Bicentennial Park or Virginia Key. The bike race will probably be in Coconut Grove, he said.
Miami Cycling Classic organizer and Coconut Grove attorney Lee Marks said the race would be held in tandem with Race Week. This year, nine cycling events - including amateur and police biking divisions - will be spread over two days Sept. 27 and 28. This is the sixth version of this race run by Mr. Marks.
"The bike race is very family oriented with a free kids race," Mr. Marks said. "It's a very international event, very spectator friendly."
Raceworks has a license with the city to host the Grand Prix Americas for 25 years. Miami architect and developer Willy Bermello owns 33.33% of Raceworks, attorney Peter Yanowitch 63.67% and racing legend Emerson Fitipaldi 3%.
The group is in the process of selling 60% of its business to the Championship Auto Racing Teams, an Indianapolis, IN-based racing company commonly known as CART. While the deal has been on the table since August, the 60% ownership transfer was left hanging even after its first race was finished. Grand Prix America President Chuck Martinez said a contract could be signed in the next 90 days.
Details: Sea Scouts (305) 525-2063.