Roar returns: Parade, street party Thursday; racing Saturday on Fort Myers Beach
The Roar Offshore National Championship of powerboat races that hit Fort Myers Beach Saturday will be like “the equivalent of NASCAR on the water” featuring boats capable of reaching speeds of more than 180 miles per hour, said race organizer Tim Hill.
Hill, who brought the races back to Fort Myers Beach with his wife Cyndee in 2019, is expecting another large turnout for the event after taking a break last year due to the pandemic.
Racers from all over the country will participate on a course over the Gulf of Mexico viewable from much of the north side of the beach.
“Everything is entirely free to the community,” Hill said. “It’s a great family event.”
Among the more well-known racers set to take part in the championship racing is Travis Pastrana, known for being a champion motorcross competitor.
The festivities begin Thursday with a parade of an expected 45 powerboats which will be hauled on trailers from Salty Sam’s Marina over the Matanzas Pass Bridge, closing the Matanzas Pass Bridge from 4:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. The parade will go down Estero Boulevard to Crescent Street and Old San Carlos Boulevard before stopping in the Times Square area.
A street party will follow on Old San Carlos Boulevard from 6 to 9 p.m. with the boats lined up for viewing. Multiple streets in the vicinity will be closed including Crescent Street, Old San Carlos Boulevard, First Street and Fifth Street.
Between 60-70 teams of offshore powerboat racing teams will take part in the American Powerboat Association National Championship beginning Saturday at 10 a.m. There are five classes of races slated to run through 4 p.m.
Those looking to get a closeup view of the powerboats can see them at Salty Sam’s Marina on Thursday up until 4 p.m. and all day Friday. For a short time Saturday morning from 8 a.m. until before the races, the pits will also be open at Salty Sam’s Marina for public viewing.
Hill said Salty Sam’s Marina will be a good spot for folks to meet the participants, learn about the powerboats and get autographs from Pastrana and others.
“It’s all open to the public,” Hill said.
The Lani Kai Island Resort, one of the sponsors of the event, will have a meet-and-greet with some of the teams, including the champion Predator team, at Club Ohana tonight. The awards ceremony will be held outside on the beach stage at the Lani Kai on Saturday from 5 . to 8 p.m.
According to the organizers, there will be a VIP tent area on Saturday during the races at Beach Bar. There will be a buffet for onlookers to enjoy the races along with televisions providing coverage. A portion of the proceeds will benefit a scholarship program through Ft. Myers Offshore Inc.
“It’s a perfect venue for the race teams and the race fans with the proximity of the venues to the racecourse,” Hill said of Fort Myers Beach. “It’s the closest you can get to the action with a plethora of entertainment venues.”
For a full schedule of events, the website for the Roar offshore powerboat races can be found at https://www.roaroffshore.com/schedule/
Hill recommends the use of Lee County’s bus system LeeTran due to the high volume of traffic expected as well as limited parking expected to be available.
There is time limit to the buses, though. According to the LeeTran schedule, the last bus stop at Beach Park and Ride is 8:35 p.m. on weekdays for Fort Myers Beach and 7:35 p.m. is the last stop on Saturday at Beach Park and Ride.