Right now, million dollar speed boats are taking over Clearwater Beach. Racers from all parts of the nation hoping to win and head to the world championship. The intense competition means big bucks dropping in the county this weekend.
The seafood is sizzling and speedboats, from as far as Houston, Texas, are pulling up to Clearwater Beach. The crowds will keep growing through the weekend in anticipation of the Sunday race. However, eight years ago, Pinellas County, looked more like a ghost town.
"This is historically--was the slowest tourism weekend of the year, said former Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst Jr.
He says that's why he helped create the Superboat National Championship, "It keeps a lot of people working in a slow time." It's been gaining momentum through the years.
This event on the water is huge for Pinellas County. It draws in approximately 180,000 people and has an economic impact of $20 million. Its earned a name for itself, boasting big names in the sport like eight-time world champion Miss Geico Offshore Racing Team. Last year, however, didn't go so well for this team.
"No doubt, we had a miserable year, last year," said Gary Goodell, owner of the team.
He blames last year's loss to its engine blowing up. We found out, it seems to be a common problem in the speedboat racing world. He fixed the $1.5 million problem. Now, his boat will be able to fly on the water at speeds upwards of 180 mph.That's like crossing a football field in a single second.
"I'm a betting man, I wouldn't go up against us, believe me," he said through a beaming smile.
Goodell is confident he'll win again. He's got this message for the competition.
"We put a rearview mirror in our boat so we could see them," he laughed.
The race kicks off Sunday at 12 p.m. at Coachman Park Marina in Clearwater.