Sarasota preps for Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix - WFLA News Channel 8

Sarasota preps for Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix

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One of the boats participating in the race. One of the boats participating in the race.
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Some of the fastest speedboats around will be competing in a high-octane race off Sarasota beaches this weekend.

It's time for the 29th annual Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix. There will be around 30 boats racing off the shores of Lido Beach, with some coming close to 200 miles per hour.

Driver Rob Munziato said, "It's kinda like trying to handle something that's out of control."

Munziato is the driver of "The Hulk".  He's a national champion who's competed on the water since 1996.  He says speed isn't the only factor to winning the race.

"The last race in Cocoa Beach, we were in the lead the whole time," Munziato said,  "And then we landed on the side and broke a motor and lost, so luck plays a lot into it."

And he can't go anywhere without his throttle man, Dan Lawrence.

"Running a boat over 85 miles per hour takes skill. Accidents happen over 85, and then its exponential, so you go to 100, 110, 120, it's a whole new world," said Lawrence. "If you hit a wave the wrong way, your boat's going over, and there are a lot of accidents unfortunately in our sport."

The boaters and spectators are not the only ones who benefit in this race.

Lawrence said, "It's not a profit incentive, it's for a foundation for children."

Since 1985, the annual Sarasota race has raised around $14 million for children and others with special needs.

Lawrence said, "All the racers know it ... primarily, most of us donate our winnings to charity at the end of the event."

Munziato said the Suncoast Grand Prix race is a favorite among some of the competitors.

"Sarasota and Key West are our two best stops of the year. We always get the most amount of spectators and the most amount of race boats turn out for these 2 races," he said.

The first race begins off Lido beach on Sunday morning at 11 am.  If you want to get a good spot, be prepared to get there early.

Starting at 7 p.m. on Friday night, there will be a parade of boats down Main Street in downtown Sarasota.  Famed aerialist Nik Wallenda will be the honorary Grand Marshal of the parade.

Click here for a full list of July 4th celebrations across the Bay area.

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