15th annual XINSURANCE Great Lakes Grand Prix features thrilling races and block party

15th annual XINSURANCE Great Lakes Grand Prix features thrilling races and block party

The XINSURANCE Great Lakes Grand Prix (XGLGP) makes its 15th annual showing on the shores of Lake Michigan for a week of spirited excitement. The free event promises a spectacle of speed and power as some of the world’s fastest offshore powerboats take to the water. From July 30 to August 4, Washington Park will transform into a hub of activity with the biggest event of the summer—featuring live entertainment, a parade, a cigar bar, a VIP area, delicious food and the thrill of the races. 

“We started with a vision of bringing this exciting sport to our community,” said LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Jack Arnett. “We have a unique asset here, a beautiful lake with stunning scenery. We are fortunate to be able to host the Grand Prix and share it with the world.”

The XGLGP is a celebration of Lake Michigan and the Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA). Making the Grand Prix so special is its global appeal—attracting powerboat racers from every continent. One of the few races held on an inland lake, the Grand Prix is part of a whole race circuit—running from Key West and Cocoa Beach Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin to the Lake of the Ozarks and many more.

“Our race has twice been awarded the Best Event in the State of Indiana by the State Tourism Association, and it is an international event,” said Arnett. “We will have well over 200,000 people who come in and out. It is great for our community, especially to our military veterans. It also brings a lot of money into the Region, and we cannot wait to get things kicked off.” 

The heart of the event is the free block party, held in downtown Michigan City. This year the block party is taking on a carnival theme with a focus on all-family fun. The block party will be held on Saturday from noon until 10 p.m. with an accompanying parade commencing from 6 p.m. to around 8 p.m. The setup allows attendees to view boats along the Uptown Arts District– on Franklin Street to 10th Street to 4th Street with the hub at 7th Street.  

“This year we have a number of activities for families to participate in,” said Lake Life Social Events Owner and Event Planner Dee Haddad. “We are trying to cater to a wide range of interests. With a carnival theme, we have balloon artists, a parade, face painting and caricatures, a bags (cornhole) tournament, Kona Ice, barbecue trucks and a glow party at night. Instant cameras will be set up for families to take pictures.”

The boat parade will provide a dedicated pit area and a convenient view of the OPA boats for the whole family. A golf outing will be held at the Michigan City Municipal Golf Course, followed by awards and an after party. Those 21 and older will have access to a mobile cigar lounge and an arcade-style bar. For participating race teams, a formal award ceremony and special send-off will be initiated. 

“The Grand Prix is more than just a weekend event – it is a week-long celebration,” said XGLGP Race Director Scott Miller. “We kick things off with a meet and greet for the racers on Tuesday, followed by a golf outing on Wednesday, a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday and a party at Blue Chip Casino for the racers on Friday.”

Scott Miller, who has been involved with the Grand Prix for almost 20 years, has worked his way up to his current role. His experiences working in the wet pits where the boats are launched to coordinate with volunteers and emergency services prepared him for the opportunity to help share a world-class race with Northwest Indiana. 

“It is not just the racing that makes the Grand Prix so special,” said Scott Miller. “It is the community atmosphere, the spectator engagement and the way we treat racers like celebrities. I have been to many racing events, from NASCAR to IndyCar, but there is nothing quite like the hands-on experience we provide here.” 

Chelsea Miller, XGLGP’s Social Media Manager, has been involved with the Grand Prix for 10 years. Her role has moved into general factotum, where she also handles transportation, logistics, vendor coordination and more. Her biggest excitement for the event is expanding the block party for race enthusiasts and the community as a whole. 

“The biggest part for this year’s additions to the block party is putting more money into it this year,” said Chelsea Miller. “We are hoping to bring in more food vendors to help alleviate pressure off the few we used to have. We will have several live bands throughout the block party and parade, including the Day Job Quitters and Middle Of The Road Band. We are striving to bring in all the outsiders from the race teams and fans and bring the community together.” 

While already sold out, the Grand Prix also offers a variety of VIP events, which are noted as the hottest ticket in town. The Meet & Greet Racer Party will be held by Phi Delta Kappa on Tuesday at 5 p.m. for the public and will offer hors d'oeuvres along with a cash bar available. A ribbon cutting open to the public on Thursday lets attendees meet the OPA teams and race dealings for the Saturday and Sunday parties. Following the ribbon cutting, a VIP party will be held at Sunset Grille, and a ticket is needed to attend.

Specialized parking will also be available during the XGLGP. 

“We have a map available to show the bus routes with our two entrances at 7th and Franklin and at 7th and Washington,” said Haddad. “Participants can take the complimentary shuttle that goes from Blue Chip to the block party." 

Additionally, racegoers can take the shuttle to and from Washington Park. To see exactly where parking and shuttle services will be available during the XGLGP, event goers are invited to take a look at the parking and shuttle map here. A full list of parking fees and additional information can also be found at emichigancity.com/322/Parking-Stickers

The XGLGP is a must-see local event for families and individuals who love speed, excitement and community.

For more information about the XINSURANCE Great Lakes Grand Prix schedule or event information, visit greatlakesgrandprix.com. For additional information about the participating OPA boats, visit oparacing.org/mc.